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Grofé: Death Valley Suite CD

2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: William T. Stromberg
  • Composer: Ferde Grofé
  • Audio CD (2 Sept. 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B00006GO4A
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,237 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. On the Set - Sweepers
2. The Stand-in
3. Carpenters and Electricians
4. Preview
5. Production Number
6. Director - Star - Ensemble
7. The River
8. Henry hudson
9. Rip Van Winkle
10. Albany Night Boat
11. New York!
12. Funeral mountains
13. '49er Emigrant Train
14. Desert Water Hole
15. Sand Storm

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Mr. N.H. on 8 Jan. 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Very intense but listenable if you like large-scale scoring.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Vidal on 27 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Another very good descriptive music by Ferde Grofe which was missing from my collection.Top marks.

Juan Vidal
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
No musical desert here; a musical dessert! 23 Sept. 2002
By Lee Hartsfeld - Published on
Format: Audio CD
These are splendid performances of three Ferde Grofe suites, one of them ("Hollywood Suite") a premiere recording. The liner notes tell us that the 1935/1938 "Hollywood" started life as a ballet, which would explain the uncharacteristically mundane movement titles ("The Stand-in," "Sweepers," etc.) from a composer who usually treats us to windstorms, scenic marvels, and loud historical happenings. This suite's music is marvelous, if blatantly Gershwinesque in more than a few spots, especially in "Carpenters and Electricians," which sounds more like "Triumphant Charge of the Combined Armies of 19th-Century Europe" than a soundtrack for on-set union activity. "Concerto in F" paraphrasings provide some break from the movement's relentless onslaught of... hammers? T-squares? Overwrought, perhaps, but who's complaining? In a lighter mode, "Production Number" uncannily presages modern attempts to recall the Broadway and Hollywood of days gone by, as if Grofe had anticipated cable-TV sound bytes in the days before television. The final movement is the epitome of a Grofe musical wrap-up, evocative of numerous story-lines wrapping up in quick fashion. Grofe's 1955 "Hudson River Suite," much more typical of the composer's later, streamlined, CinemaScope style, is musical enjoyment of the purest style--so much so, that I won't even mention the Track 7, 3:32 goof-up that someone ought to have noticed during playback, if not on the spot. The flattened third of the scale CAN sound good against the unflattened version of the same, but not here. Andre Kostelanetz made a nice recording of this circa 1956, but without the benefit of digital technology, a recording snidely dismissed by one critic of the time as being "of interest mainly for its special sound effects." This is light music, to be sure, but not lightweight, with the bouncy, minimalist "Rip Van Winkle" movement especially charming. "Winkle" moves seamlessly from a mood of free-spirited joy to murky mysterioso to creaky transfiguration to lively recapitulation, and without a break--nothing to snore at, here. Finally, the 1949 "Death Valley Suite" (the outside of the case says 1957!) is every bit as Death-Valleyesque as the 1955 recording by Grofe himself, with the Stephen Foster medley in "Desert Water Hole" brilliantly performed and just the greatest kind of musical fun. I won't complain about the ridiculous amplified-rattle effect in "Sand Storm," because this CD is too extraordinarily good to harp over. NAXOS and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra have given Grofe lovers a gift to treasure.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Highly Recommended Americana 7 Sept. 2003
By StackedAktor - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Grofe is very underrated composer, maybe because he embraced melody and popularism when the rest of classical music was running the other way. (That and he is one of the few composers I know of who can make me laugh and surprise me consistently.)
The music speaks for itself. My favorite is the Death Valley Suite, especially the opening 5/4 movement that depicts perfectly the misery of crossing the desert under a murderous sun searching for water. (That and the arrow shot during the Indian raid- some of the cleverest orchestration I've heard in a while.)
I'd also advise you keep an eye out for a CD that features Grofe's Piano Concerto (recorded by a local orchestra- Albany? Buffalo? in New York)- it isn't a new recording, but is an impressive piece- one of the few works of Grofe I've heard that isn't imagistic.
Take my advice and order this. Anyone who loves Bernstein, Gershwin, Anderson or just wants a glimpse of 20th Century America should pick this up. You won't be disappointed.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Grofé gets his due 17 Sept. 2002
By J Scott Morrison - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This welcome release is the second CD from Naxos featuring the orchestral music of Ferde Grofé (1899-1972), best known for a suite included on the first release -- "Grand Canyon Suite." This new CD is played by the same forces, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by the talented young American conductor, William T. Stromberg. They do a brilliant job.
The "Hollywood Suite," premiered in 1935, is for a ballet about a young woman, like many other anonymous women of that time, who had come to Hollywood to be a "star." Instead she is a bit-player There is an underlying melancholy in the music even in the ebullient, musically apt "Production Number," in which the stand-in dances for the star, while the star gets the close-ups. The bustle of the "Carpenters and Electricians" section is brilliantly orchestrated, no surprise since Grofé was primarily known -- aside from the "Grand Canyon Suite" -- for his orchestration of Gershwin's early orchestral works. The bustle in the orchestra reminds one of Gershwin's "American in Paris."
The "Hudson River Suite" was commissioned by Andre Kostelanetz in 1954 and incorporates a tone-poem, "Rip van Winkle," that Grofé wrote in 1932. "Rip" begins with Rip walking in the hills with his dog and, like Piston's "Incredible Flutist," includes a recording of a dog barking. When Rip wakes up after his twenty years' sleep and whistles for his dog, there is no response, a neat way to show that years have passed. Both "The River" and "Henry Hudson" have a broad, flowing, almost Elgarian nobilmente. It concludes with the frenetic activity of "New York!," ending the Hudson?s downstream course.
"Death Valley Suite," written for the 1949 celebration of California's centennial, is probably the most serious piece on the CD. It depicts a wagon train trying to cross California's Death Valley, its settlers almost dying of thirst; when they find a water hole there is jubilation and someone breaks out a fiddle and there is dancing to "O, Susanna." Later, the wagon train is engulfed in a fierce sand storm, but they manage to get through it to the promised land.
Grofé has pretty much fallen out of favor, although his music was immensely popular in the mid-20th century. It is due for rediscovery. This CD will help.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
WARNING: Composition Titles Seem To Be Switched/Incorrect 22 Dec. 2011
By Martha Geisler - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm confused. The Hudson River Suite and the Death Valley Suite seem to have the titles switched! Even the samples are incorrect. When I sample other albums that include the Death Valley Suite the music is the same as what this album lists as The Hudson River Suite. For instance, The track titled Hudson River Suite, Rip Van Winkle includes the Oh Susanna section that the reviewer J Scott Morrison mentioned comes from the Death Valley Suite and the dog barking mentioned in regard to the Hudson River Suite, Rip Van Winkle is the track titled Death Valley Suite: '49er Emigrant Train. The music is beautiful but I have no idea what I am listening to. Confusing and frustrating!!!!!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Fine Performances of Powerful Compositions 22 Mar. 2007
By Steven K. Szmutko - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Grofé is best known for his "Grand Canyon Suite," yet he has been otherwise underappreciated amidst the cacophony of supposedly more avant-garde composers of the 20th century. Yet his works are moving and, at least in my opinion, quintessentially American in both mood, temperament, and orchestration.

The three works presented here are beautiful compositions reflecting a variety of emotions and scenes. His works detailed images and visualizations unlike other composers. They can sadden, lighten, frighten and embolden the listener.

Although the Grand Canyon Suite may be the best introduction to Grofé, these three works, in particular, "Hudson River Suite," will provide a joyous celebration of imagery.

This is my first purchase of a Naxos Label "American Classic" and I am very pleased. The quality, performance and inexpensive price provide a great value. I am very impressed with William Stromberg and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
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