Thursday, March 19, 2009


This CD was provided to us via the kindness and friendship of Horacio. Please check out his essential blog, LA DISCOTECA CLASICA, featuring the finest collection of lesser-known, "neglected" composers you will ever find. It is a magical place to discover great music you may not even know existed. It is my FAVORITE place on the web and I visit it EVERY day. Thank you Horacio! Scoredaddy

Hugh Wolff's reputation precedes him. On this evidence, I can't say I am surprised. His Appalachian Spring, pristine in its original version for 13 instruments, is exceptionally good—keen, personable, honest. This is surely the best way (indeed I am beginning to think the only way) to hear Copland's most durable score—pared down to the barest essentials, pure and simple, unadorned. The intimacy of the sound alone lends the proceedings a more personal, homespun quality. Solo voices stand out in rustic relief, when the first allegro (marked vigoroso) bursts upon the scene, the gutsy immediacy of solo strings (a mere nonet) and dancing piano pays enormous dividends, especially in the hands of players as accomplished as these. So too the burgeoning of Simple Gifts, tentatively, mysteriously from a single sustained B in the bassoon (track 19). And of course there are the eight or so minutes of extra music (extra to the Suite, that is) reflecting the hopes and fears of the early settlers—again tensely chronicled here by the St Paul players. It's a lovely performance, lucidly recorded: as the solo flute brings blissful reassurance on the final page of all, the flowering of one last arpeggio from deep in the string bass is the kind of sound you can reach out and touch.

I should like to have 'heard' more of the breathless nocturnal atmosphere of Quiet City: the lower dynamics here (especially in the backwash of strings) are nowhere near quiet enough, the moodiness never quite takes hold, for all that Wolff has two wonderfully expressive voices in Gary Bordner (trumpet) and Thomas Tempel (cor anglais) to while away the small hours. I've no misgivings about the Latin American Sketches, though: the "Estribillo" strikes just the right attitudes, "Paisaje mexicana" is cool and sexy, and the familiar "Danza de Jalisco" with its clicking heels and hand-claps is, to use Copland's word, "bouncy". And there's plenty more where that came from in the piquant 'latino' jazz of the Music for the Theatre Prologue. Again style and detail couldn't be snappier: be it the roaring 1920s charleston-ja77 of the foot-tapping "Dance" with its 'blue' trumpet and clarinet breaks or the bumps and grinds of the "Burlesque" floorshow. Roy Harris called this "whorehouse music"—a description I rather like. Best of all, though, is the limpid blues ("Interlude") where every solo line emerges as if from a trance and those fragile piano interjections sound properly disembodied. Happily, this marks the start of a Teldec contract for Wolff—clearly good news. E.S.

Music For The Theatre (1925)
1. Prolouge
2. Dance
3. Interlude
4. Burlesque
5. Epilogue

Three Latin American Sketches (1959, 1971)
6. Estribillo
7. Paisaje Mexicano
8. Danza de Jalisco

9. Quiet City (1940)

Appalachian Spring (1945)
10. Very slowly
11. Allegro, vigoroso
12. Moderato
13. Much slower, poco rubato
14. Fast
15. Malto moderato
16. Allegro
17. Presto
18. Meno mosso
19. As at first (Slowly)
20. Thema and variations ('The Gift to be Simple')
21. Rather Slow
22. Very deliberate
23. Poco piu mosso (Twice as Fast)
24. Molto allegro ed agitato
25. Broadly
26. Moderato
27. Andante

Recorded at Ordway Music Theater, Saint Paul, Minnesota USA in September, 1990


Scoredaddy said...


Thanks again to Horacio!

If you download this album and appreciate my efforts sharing it with you, please make a comment below.

If you want to bring this upload to the attention of people on another website, please link to this blog and not to the actual download links.

Thank you! :-)

Anonymous said...

Don't believe I've heard the chamber version. An excellent CD. Thanks Scoredaddy.


DS said...

Wonderful recording, thank you...