Dvorak: Symphony No. 9, Copland: Billy the Kid (2020)

Dvorak, Copland

National Symphony Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda

Gianandrea Noseda

The National Symphony Orchestra and I are proud to present this debut album on our new label. These live recordings were made at our home, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. It is only fitting that this recording, made in June 2019, is dedicated to two composers who contributed greatly to the tapestry of American music.

America’s vastness and diversity are on full display in these two works by Antonin Dvorak and Aaron Copland. It took two individuals from very different backgrounds to give us some of the foundational works on which the American sound has continued to be built over the decades.

When I listen to Copland’s Billy the Kid, I immediately envision the frontier of the American West. It is a source of constant fascination to me that the composer of this quintessential American sound was born in Brooklyn to a family with Russian origins. Inspired by American folk songs, African American spirituals, and Native American songs, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”, was composed during the composer’s years in New York and weaves these American sounds into his rich and lush orchestral language.

The cultural bridges built between Africa, Europe, and America allowed artists from these continents to nurture each other and develop different perspectives and rich artistic languages. These compositions are prime examples of those cultural connections and interactions.

We are pleased to have been able to record these live performances and we hope you will enjoy listening to them.

 

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Gianandrea Noseda

Gianandrea Noseda is widely recognized as one of the leading conductors of his genera­tion. He is Musical America’s 2015 Conductor of the Year.

Gianandrea Noseda’s appointment as Music Director of the Teatro Regio Torino in 2007 ushered in a transformative era for the company: his initiatives have propelled the Teatro Regio Torino onto the global stage, where it has become one of Italy’s most important cultural exports. Under his leadership the Teatro Regio Torino has launched its first tours outside of Torino with performances in Austria, China, France, Germany, Japan and Russia. In August 2014 Gianandrea Noseda brought the Teatro Regio Torino to the Edinburgh Festival for its United Kingdom debut. In December 2014 he also led the Teatro Regio Torino in a historic first, and critically acclaimed, tour of North America with concert per­formances of William Tell in Chicago (Harris Theater), Toronto (Roy Thomson Hall), New York (Carnegie Hall) and Ann Arbor, Michigan (University Musical Society).

Gianandrea Noseda is Principal Guest Conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra since 2011, he has performed with the orchestra in Israel and has led a successful seven cities tour in the US in spring 2014. He is also Principal Conductor of the Orquestra de Cadaqués and Artistic Director of the Stresa Festival (Italy). He was at the helm of the BBC Philharmonic from 2002 to 2011. In 1997 he was appointed the first foreign Princi­pal Guest Conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre, a position he held for a decade.

National Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1931 by Hans Kindler, the National Symphony Orchestra has always been firmly committed to artistic excellence and music education. In 1986, the National Symphony became an artistic affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where it has performed a full season of subscription concerts since the Center opened in 1971. The 96-member NSO regularly participates in events of national and international importance, including official holiday celebrations through its regularly televised appearances for Capitol Concerts, and local radio broadcasts on Classical WETA 90.9FM, making the NSO one of the most-heard orchestras in the United States.
The NSO performs approximately 150 concerts each year, including classical and popular concerts at the Kennedy Center, at Wolf Trap in the summer, and on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol with some of the world's most renowned talent appearing as guest artists. Many of its members give chamber music performances in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater and on its Millennium Stage, and at theaters around Washington, D.C. The Orchestra also has a notable history of touring, both internationally and nationally, in addition to its American Residencies program, which ran from 1992 to 2011.
 
Known for its genre-mixing and unexpected programming, the NSO has collaborated with artists as wide-ranging as Boyz II Men, Common, Ben Folds, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Mason Bates, and Bryce Dessner; tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain; Broadway stars Megan Hilty, Audra MacDonald, Laura Osnes, and Santino Fontana; rock stars the Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge, country singer LeAnn Rimes; and jazz pianist Jason Moran, among others, to create performances that are unique to the Orchestra.
 
The NSO is also committed to expanding the orchestral catalog and supporting the composers of today. Through its Hechinger Commissioning Fund, the NSO has commissioned and premiered more than 60 new works by American composers since the fund's creation in 1983. Performing music of its time has always been paramount to the Orchestra's mission, and, since as early as 1934, the NSO has been bringing U.S. and world premieres to Washington, D.C. audiences.
 
The NSO offers an extensive education program, with a range of offerings for families and children ages three and up. Career development opportunities for young musicians include the NSO Youth Fellowship Program and its acclaimed Summer Music Institute, in which many members of the Orchestra participate, teaching and mentoring the gifted young performers selected to participate.
 
In addition, the NSO's community engagement projects are nationally recognized, including NSO In Your Neighborhood, which comprises a week of approximately 50 performances in schools, churches, community centers, and other neighborhood venues, and the Kennedy Center's Sound Health partnership with Renee Fleming and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which includes the NSO's work at Children's Inn at NIH, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Children's National Medical Center, and Inova Health System.
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Dvorak: Symphony No. 9, Copland: Billy the Kid (2020)

Dvorak, Copland

National Symphony Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda

    Gramophone

A brand-new label showcasing both the National Symphony Orchestra and their home – the Kennedy Center – in Washington DC offers two familiar postcards ‘From the New World’ in performances that should but don’t stand out from the crowd. The venue sounds well enough in what is clearly a well-engineered disc and the inimitable chord spacings that open Copland’s Billy the Kid Suite certainly convey that sense of ‘tall, wide and handsome’ – a sense that, notwithstanding the Godfather of American music Charles Ives, the American orchestral sound essentially began here. But the open, rather too well-homogenised (for my taste) sound picture contributes to a presentation of this music that, while slickly projected by the NSO and its music director Gianandrea Noseda, is somehow too urbane to be entirely in keeping with its frontier spirit, its homespun local colour, Mexican dances and the like. It feels and sounds like a rather expensive 21st-century pageant – a depiction of the famous outlaw and his milieu that heaven forbid should get down and dirty. As we move into Dvo?ák’s celebrated letter home from North America, it becomes more and more apparent to me that part of the reason why Noseda’s reading feels overly generalised and short on personality is a sound picture that favours blend over detail. Rich and sonorous as it is, the whole thing is lacking litheness and rhythmic profile. I want to hear more definition in the brass, a sharper immediacy to the horns and trombones especially, and trumpets that really cut through the texture. Their exciting ‘hairpins’ in the coda of the first movement go for absolutely nothing. But it’s not just the sound that’s the issue here. In a piece this familiar it’s those ‘personal’ touches that make it live and breathe again, and in this slow movement one feels like one is standing back in admiration of the super-smooth brass chorale and well-upholstered cor anglais solo rather than being drawn afresh into the musical narrative. The middle section of this movement can and should tug at the heartstrings, as should the use of solo strings at the close. But it remains strangely impassive. Again there is fire and resilience in the finale but little of the excitement it can muster. Both sonically and interpretatively I feel like I am at arm’s length from everything. How much more exciting the harmonic interaction of trumpets against trombones against tremolando violins in the coda would be if there were not just more immediacy but a very real sense of the music over-reaching itself. These are respectable performances for a respectable audience but nothing whatever to frighten the horses.

Edward Seckerson[read full review]

    HRAudio.net -

A live production invariably brings so much more emotional thrill that it largely outweighs any imperfection it may entail; in this particular case the positive tension between audience and musicians is tangible, and the more I listen the more I like it. It may be clear that from the luxury of available versions, which by the way and for various reasons do not all come into prime focus, it may be difficult to make up one’s mind. That said, Noseda and his forces surely are in the top league. And with a compelling Billy the Kid Suite from Aaron Copland’s complete ballet, plus on top of that an exemplary sound, with modest but effective surround, one can hardly go wrong when opting for Gianandrea Noseda and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Adrian Quanjer[read full review]

Dvorak: Symphony No. 9, Copland: Billy the Kid (2020)

Dvorak, Copland

National Symphony Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda

Editing Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Mastering Engineer: Mark Donahue, Soundmirror
Producer: Blanton Alspaugh, Soundmirror
Recording Engineer: John Newton, Soundmirror
Recording Location: Recorded live in DSD 256 on June 6, 8, and 9, 2019 at the Concert Hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Recording Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD 256

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NSO0001: Dvorak: Symphony No. 9, Copland: Billy the Kid
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Tracks.
1.
Billy the Kid, I. Introduction. The Open Prairie
Copland
00:03:23   Select quality & channels above
2.
Billy the Kid, II. Street in a Frontier Town
Copland
00:03:19   Select quality & channels above
3.
Billy the Kid, III. Mexican Dance and Finale
Copland
00:02:59   Select quality & channels above
4.
Billy the Kid, IV. Prairie Night - Card Game at Night
Copland
00:03:23   Select quality & channels above
5.
Billy the Kid, V. Gun Battle
Copland
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6.
Billy the Kid, VI. Celebration - After Billy's Capture
Copland
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7.
Billy the Kid, VII. Billy's Death
Copland
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8.
Billy the Kid, VIII. The Open Prairie Again
Copland
00:01:57   Select quality & channels above
9.
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, 'From the New World', I. Adagio - Allegro molto
Dvorak
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10.
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, 'From the New World', II. Largo
Dvorak
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11.
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, 'From the New World', III. Scherzo. Molto vivace
Dvorak
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12.
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, 'From the New World', IV. Allegro con fuoco
Dvorak
00:11:16   Select quality & channels above

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