PRISCILLA ALDEN BEACH (1902-1970): City Trees, ALEXANDRA PIERCE (b.1934): Behemoth, LINDA ROBBINS COLEMAN (b.1954): For A Beautiful Land.
Catalogue Number: 06W044
Label: New Focus Recordings
Description: Three fine, full-bloodedly neo-romantic, tonal scores (although only 32 minutes of music) by somewhat unacknowledged American composers who happen to be women. Beach's City Trees is opulent nature-music in resplendent orchestral garb. Before her life took a different direction she was something of a musical prodigy, who studied at the Eastman School and encountered Howard Hanson (who conducted the première of this piece); there are distinct resemblances to the style of Hanson's "Romantic" symphony (written two years later, let it be noted). The Coleman is a celebration of the American landscape, life, and history, specifically of Iowa, subject matter that has inspired many composers of Coplandish inclinations, which are certainly in evidence here. Open-air nature music, with birdsong and distant thunder makes up the first section of the piece, while the second part is made up of waltzes of various character, from grand ballroom celebrations to rather less dignified revelry. The real find here is Pierce's rugged tone poem Behemoth, named for the awe-inspiring creature in the Biblical book of Job. The work is in five movements, the first imposing, the second a scherzo "delicately, yet assertive", the third a brooding slow movement, the fourth an unexpected and original episode mostly for percussion, which carries over into the finale, which is angular and unpredictable, pitting a determined bass line against antagonistic interjections from the rest of the orchestra. Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra; Ruben Blundell.