To Americans of a certain age, the name Ferde Grofé conjures up images of the Grand Canyon, because for many years one heard in all kinds of venues music from, or arranged from, his very popular Grand Canyon Suite, which is included on this SACD disc from Naxos. It also includes the Mississippi Suite and the Niagara Falls Suite. It seems as if Grofé was dedicated to writing music to describe all manner of American landscapes, activities, holidays, etc. This CD is one of several that have been issued by Naxos that give us a pretty good taste of his up-front, middle-American, easy-to-understand music. He was an expert at painting musical pictures. Probably most famous of such passages in his music is the hee-haw of the burro at the beginning of 'On the Trail' from 'Grand Canyon,' followed by a whiny violin cadenza that signifies the burro's reluctance to begin the descent down into the canyon. And then comes the familiar clip-clop of the burro's hooves. Also extraordinarily pictorial is the final section of the suite, 'Cloudburst,' which does indeed picture a desert storm.
The Mississippi Suite is just as descriptive, and even more so is the Niagara Suite which begins with a eerily accurate percussion imitation of the roar of the water going over the Falls.
These perfomances have all been released before on a plain-vanilla CD (and I urge you to read the reviews for that release to gain more information) and here it is in the more vivid surround-sound SACD format. I will admit I have not heard it in surround sound, because I haven't converted to the format, but from previous listens of other Naxos SACD on such equipment, I can confidently predict that the sound would be awesome.
Strong performances by the Bournemouth Symphony under William T. Stromberg, a conductor who has made a career of conducting film scores. Grofé music is not film music, but it could easily be taken for such.