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FOOTE, A.: Francesca da Rimini / 4 Character Pieces after the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam / Suite / Serenade (excerpts) (Seattle Symphony, Schwarz)

There is a general neglect of music written in America during the 19th and early 20th century, like everything before Copland and Gershwin did not exist. However, several classic music labels, including Albany and particularly Naxos have pushed forward into these uncharted waters. This new CD from Naxos’ American Classics series comes from this territory.  Arthur Foote (1853-1937) was probably one of the first American composers educated entirely in his home country. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, he studied under John Knowles Paine (1839-1906). Foote graduated in 1875 with the first MA degree ever handed out by an American university. His music is strongly rooted in the late 19th century German romanticism, particularly in form and the woks on this CD are excellent examples of this. The selected four pieces for orchestra, ‘Symphonic Prologue’ Francesca da Rimini, Op. 24 (1890), Air and Gavotte from Serenade Op. 25, Four Character Pieces, Op. 48 (1900) and Suite in E major for string orchestra, Op. 63 (1907-08), show that Foote had a considerable melodic talent. The orchestration strongly relies on strings, but it suits the mood of works remarkably well and leaves little to be desired for. Gerard Schwartz and his Seattle Symphony Orchestra are in excellent form and deliver very respectful performances. If you like orchestral music by Brahms, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky, this CD is for you. And with Naxos budget price you cannot go wrong!


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