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Jennifer Higdon: City Scape; Concerto for Orchestra [CD]

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Robert Spano Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £14.45 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Robert Spano
  • Composer: Jennifer Higdon
  • Audio CD (19 Dec 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Telarc Classical
  • ASIN: B0001KL4HW
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,333 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Concerto for Orchestra: I 8:08£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Concerto for Orchestra: II 4:35£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Concerto for Orchestra: III10:31Album Only
Listen  4. Concerto for Orchestra: IV 5:36£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Concerto for Orchestra: V 6:14£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. City Scape: SkyLine 7:07£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. City Scape: river sings a song to trees17:44Album Only
Listen  8. City Scape: Peachtree Street 6:06£0.79  Buy MP3 


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Made to Measure Music 30 July 2010
By Mr. A. R. Boyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The music on this disc is given a top class performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano.

Both works are effectively showpieces for the orchestra and, particularly with the Concerto, they sound scintillating at times. Many critics have praised this recording lavishly whilst others have been left completely cold by it, suggesting that the music lacks any depth or substance. It is particularly notable that Jennifer Higdon has had great success in the USA but her works have been less enthusiastically received elsewhere - perhaps the American know something that the rest don't.

That makes it very difficult to write a helpful review when the pieces seem to polarise responses. I have given it four stars largely because of the excellent performnces and the music's surface colour but I have some reservations about the two works - the Concerto for Orchestra particularly. I can understand, however, why some may like them.

what is likeable is:-
1. Both works are energetic and colourfully scored. It will sound very exciting on first hearing.
2. The Concerto echoes the form of Bartok's Concerto.
3. The musical language is easily accessible sounding like a very busy and colourful version of Hindemith combined with some American muscle. The City Scape has echoes of Copland with a bit Stravinsky thrown in. It is a little less showy than the Concerto, understandably, but with a little more expressive weight.
4. The music is held together by a strong physical momentum as the material is passed through the orchestral sections in waves - particularly in the Concerto. Apparently the players love it.
5. Performance and sonics are top class.

What are my reservations?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bright exciting music 26 Mar 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
From a composer one would never have heard of unless you read the late lamented Penguin Guide. OK there are strong links to the Copland style of America orchestral music but it is original enough to grab your ears
A considerable bargain
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful!! 8 Aug 2004
By M. Tierra - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Jennifer Higdon's concerto for Orchestra is one of the most exciting pieces of the 21st century. Her music is solidly crafted, colorful, energetic, brimming with enthusiasm and imagination. One can hear the influences of Bartok's masterwork of the same genre, but with equally great dramatic impact and instead of merely featuring sections in the style of concerto grosso, it is spotlights highly virtuosic passages for solo instruments throughout the orchestra, including both first chair as well as all other players in the section. This concerto is truly a celebration not only of the orchestra but of orchestra players, who seem to relish the considerable technical challenge her piece presents. Anyone who appreciates contemporary music will appreciate this, one of the first 21st century masterworks for orchestra.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cityscapes 17 Jan 2009
By Erik North - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Jennifer Higdon is one of the finest of America's contemporary composers, and someone who has demonstrated that contemporary classical music doesn't necessarily have to be atonal or repetitious. And here on this recording by Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, she proves it in two tremendous works that received their world premiere recordings--the "Concerto For Orchestra", and the three-movement tone painting "Cityscape"

The Concerto For Orchestra was composed by Ms. Higdon in 2002 for the Philadelphia Orchestra, which gave the work its official world premiere performance in June of that year as part of its centennial celebration. It is structured along the lines of Bartok's similarly-named 1945 masterwork, with various solo instruments or groups of instruments standing out amidst the big orchestral sound produced Although the movements are marked only by Roman numerals as opposed to evocative titles or even tempi indications, they all flow seamlessly together in the work's half-hour running time. "Cityscapes", meanwhile, was inspired by the first ten years of life that the Brooklyn-born Higdon spent in Atlanta. It is a highly evocative piece, a sort of modern equivalent of such past American composing legends as Samuel Barber, William Schuman, and Aaron Copland. The three movements of the work depict certain aspects of this great Southern city, whose orchestra and conductor gave the work in November 2002. "Skyline" is self-explanatory; "River Sings A Song To The Trees" is about the natural beauty along Peachtree Creek"; and "Peachtree Street" is about the main surface thoroughfare that runs through the city.

Both works are performed splendidly by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which has boasted conductors like Yoel Levi, Donald Runnicles, Louis Lane, and, in its growth during the years 1967 to 1991, the late, great Robert Shaw. Robert Spano has added his own personal and welcome stamp to the orchestra, particularly in this recording, made in September 2003. For anyone interested in contemporary American music, this is a must-have recording.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Masterpieces 18 Feb 2005
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I heard City Scape on the radio and was impressed enough by what I heard to order the CD. For me the music is hard to categorize as "who it sounds like." I think that Jennifer Higdon has her own voice and this is reflected in the works recorded here, a Grammy nominee.

The Concerto for Orchestra, written for the Philadelphia Orchestra, is structured after Bela Bartok's work of the same name. This Concerto begins with chimes and timpani and goes on to give the strings quite a workout with spiraling scales before moving onto the woodwinds and brass sections. The second movement is for strings alone and is a Scherzo in tempo. It starts with a pizzicato theme and gradually all of the players move to the bow beginning with the concertmaster. The middle movement turns to the entire orchestra with each principle player having a solo before the entire orchestra, moving from woodwinds to strings to brass and percussion. The fourth movement belongs to the percussion and is perhaps the most inventive music pitting the various drums and timpani in a battle against each other. The use of a harp, piano and celesta added a mysterious quality to their part of the movement but this music, for me, explored this section of the orchestra as completely as no other has. The final movement is for the full orchestra. It begins with strings alone but soon the orchestra is playing over the perfusion, carrying on their "battle" from the prior movement.

The same orchestration is reflected in City Scape. The first movement, representing downtown Atlanta, is heavy with percussion. It depicts the changing skyline of the city as it grows and become bolder. The middle movement, depicting nature is pastoral. It is a journey through the parks and green landscapes of Atlanta: a quite movement that slowly builds to the entire orchestra and resumes a quiet, meandering exploration. The find section recalls Peachtree Street, a main road in the city. The music recalls the busy nature of the street and the motion of those walking and those driving along. The music depicts the changing nature of the street with a quick, rhythmic theme played by the orchestra. The bustling nature of the music slows and becomes quieter for a brief section before returning to the busy, bustling theme.

I felt engaged by Ms. Higdon's music: it is not abstract, atonal music (like Luciano Berio, for example) but tonal and filled with interesting ideas. The Concerto for Orchestra allowed her to juxtapose the sections of the orchestra and present some interesting effects. City Scapes presents an interesting picture of a growing metropolis. Anyone curious about current day composers should find this CD of interest.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice CD showing off one of our best composer's talents 20 Jan 2008
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Jennifer Higdon is one of the most interesting and promising of today's American composers, I believe. This CD illustrates that view pretty well. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra plays well, under the able conducting of Robert Spano.

There are two works featured on this CD: "Concerto for Orchestra" and "City Scape," a paean to Higdon's years living in Atlanta. I'll briefly note my reaction to each of these works.

"Concerto for Orchestra": There are five movements to this piece, simply labeled as Roman Numerals I through V. Across the five movements, each section of the orchestra has a chance to "strut its stuff."

Movement I: It is infectious. There is a nice use of chimes and percussion. The liner notes aptly describe this movement as "whirlwind." The strings also play in an animated fashion here.

The second movement features strings; the third allows the different principal players and sections a chance to play; the fourth focuses on percussion. The fifth movement allows the full orchestra to shine. This movement begins at a quick tempo, with interesting musical effects. The piece moves toward an almost manic pace as it progresses.

All in all, this is a very nice orchestral piece and one that most listeners, I would think, would enjoy and appreciate. Very energetic.

The second part of this CD is a piece commissioned for Atlanta, "City Scape." There are three sections to this. I'll just mention the third, "Peachtree Street" (the other two are titled "Sky Line" and "River Sings a Song to Trees"). I'll focus on the third, simply because when I've been in Atlanta, I've enjoyed taking in Peachtree Street. Lots of energy! Again, this is an infectious piece. There is a nice use of percussion, as with the Concerto. The different parts of the orchestra have a chance to shine. The liner notes speak of the Peachtree artery as "so full of life and energy." This section of Higdon's composition surely fits that statement. The energy of the Street is portrayed exceedingly well.

In short, to my unsophisticated musical ear, Jennifer Higdon is one of our finest contemporary American composers. This CD, I think, will convince those not familiar with her work that this is the case. Lots of fun!!
36 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It is all there, but still seems to be missing the point 27 Nov 2004
By David Smalling - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The music of Higdon's on this CD is very professional and well done. In many ways, 'everything' that is needed to make the music work is all there: craft, technique, proportion, color, contrast. However, the music seems to be lacking in more important, yet less definable ways. It is not very interesting or original beyond a certain point. While exciting much of the time, I could not help but feel I have heard this all done before better by other composers, most of them 'older' and not very new.

My impression was that I was listening carefully at the moment the music was sounding, but had almost no lasting memory or impression, and most importantly, no feeling about the music I just listened to. The music sounds impressive, but there is not much happening beneath the surface.
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