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American Mavericks / Cowell: "Synchrony" Piano Concerto; Harrison: Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra; Varèse: Amériques / Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony

Audio Samples

>Cowell, Henry : Synchrony of Dance, Music, Light, for orchestra (aka "Orchesterstuck
>     Synchrony"), HC 464
>Cowell, Henry : Concerto for piano & orchestra, HC 440
>Harrison, Lou : Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra
>Varèse, Edgard : Amériques

Album Summary

>Cowell, Henry : Synchrony of Dance, Music, Light, for orchestra (aka "Orchesterstuck
>Cowell, Henry : Concerto for piano & orchestra, HC 440
>Harrison, Lou : Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra
>Varèse, Edgard : Amériques
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

This recording by Michael Tilson Thomas and the GRAMMY® award-winning San Francisco Symphony features stunning live recordings from the SFS's wildly successful American Mavericks festival. Presented in premium audio, this hybrid SACD includes performances of four works by three influential but seldom heard twentieth century masters. MTT's performances of Henry Cowell's Synchrony and Piano Concerto, with Jeremy Denk on piano, combine Cowell's distinctive musical language with exceptionally expressive playing to produce a powerful musical experience. Lou Harrison's eclectic compositional style and organ soloist Paul Jacobs' spectacular virtuosity are on full display in Harrison's Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra. This one-of-a-kind disc concludes with Edgard Varèse's monumental Amériques, with its orchestral siren that has influenced generations of composers.

The Guardian, October 2012
A brilliantly virtuosic and detailed account (in its 1927 revision) of Amériques...[The Piano Concerto's] solo part is dashingly well played by Jeremy Denk.

Sunday Times, October 2012
None of the music here pretends to be subtle. The mystical flavour of Henry Cowell's atmospheric Synchrony takes the Stravinsky of The Rite of Spring a stage further...The San Francisco Symphony and Tilson Thomas give scintillating performances.

The Independent, November 2012
Michael Tilson Thomas's time at the helm of the San Francisco Symphony has been marked by a courageous dedication to modernist American outsiders, and American Mavericks bears out the orchestra's experience with such outré material.

The Times, November 2012
Jeremy Denk, the gifted soloist, dismisses the [Concerto]'s technical difficulties with ease, as does the trumpeter who begins Cowell's Synchrony with a sinuous three-minute solo, hot as molten lava...In Varèse's intoxicating celebration of new horizons, Amériques, Tilson Thomas drives his orchestra through the teeming sounds with tremendous vigour.

ClassicsToday.com
This is a terrific disc of music that few if anyone can perform more powerfully than Michael Tilson Thomas. He has long been an advocate of Henry Cowell's fascinating output, and he presents here two remarkable works that still sound as freshly radical as when they were written. Synchrony began life as a ballet for Martha Graham, but was never performed on stage. Even aside from the use of Cowell's characteristic tone clusters, it's a very distinctive piece. It begins with a long, elaborate trumpet solo containing the main thematic material of the piece - it's not exactly tonal, but it really is memorable. The music then proceeds to vary this idea while exploring a range of exotic, percussion-enriched textures. It's strangely haunting, and sounds like nothing else you've ever heard.

Thomas and the SFSO play it magnificently, with ideal clarity of texture and amazing virtuosity, especially from the brass section. Indeed, this is one of the two or three best versions of the work available, right up there with the benchmark Dohnányi/Cleveland performance on Decca. The live sonics are some of the finest to come from this source, far more effective than in many of the orchestra's Mahler recordings. I'm so happy that Thomas and his ensemble are doing what they ought to: preserving spectacular performances of non-traditional repertoire. Stunning.

American Record Guide, March / April 2013
The final work is even more spectacular. Ameriques was the first work composed by Edgard Varese (1883-1965) after his 1915 arrival in the United States. Varese brought the whole weight of Europe's late romanticism and modernism - plus his fertile imagination - to bear on Ameriques. About a half-dozen recordings of this work are available. The one on Naxos by the Polish Radio Symphony under Christopher Lyndon- Gee stands out. Muscular, aggressive, adventuresome playing by the San Francisco Orchestra. Kudos to Maestro Thomas for a most entertaining and educational album.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco War Memorial and Pe.



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Works Details

>Cowell, Henry : Synchrony of Dance, Music, Light, for orchestra (aka "Orchesterstück :: Synchrony"), HC 464
  • Conductor: Michael Thomas
  • Ensemble: San Francisco Symphony
  • Notes: Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, San Francisco (12/08/2010-12/10/2010)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 09/22/1930
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Cowell, Henry : Concerto for piano & orchestra, HC 440
  • Performer: Jeremy Denk (Piano)
  • Conductor: Michael Thomas
  • Ensemble: San Francisco Symphony
  • Notes: Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, San Francisco (03/03/2012-03/17/2012)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 03/16/1928
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Harrison, Lou : Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra
  • Performer: Paul Jacobs (Organ)
  • Conductor: Michael Thomas
  • Ensemble: San Francisco Symphony
  • Notes: Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, San Francisco (03/03/2012-03/17/2012)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1951-1973
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Edgard Varèse (Conductor/Director) (1883 - 1965) : Amériques
  • Conductor: Michael Thomas
  • Ensemble: San Francisco Symphony
  • Notes: Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, San Francisco (03/03/2012-03/17/2012)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1918-1921
  • Studio/Live: Live