Leonard Slatkin

Joan Tower: Made in America

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This album exemplifies Joan Tower's far-reaching skills as a composer and her ability to successfully reach a wide audience. The story of the composition Made in America is almost as interesting as the work itself. Commissioned by a consortium of 65 orchestras (at least one from each of the 50 states), Made in America has reached a more widespread audience in a short span of time than many other modern compositions do in a decade. A sort of fantasia on "America, the Beautiful," Made in America was intentionally composed to appeal to a wise cross-section of the American population. Also on the album is Tambor -- an energetic and rousing tour-de-force for the orchestra's percussion section -- and Tower's two-part Concerto for Orchestra -- one of the few such compositions to live up to the level of Bartók's pinnacle work of the same name. Magnificent works deserve an equally stellar performance. Leonard Slatkin's leadership of the Nashville Orchestra rises to that expectation. The ensemble delivers a thoughtful and insightful performance of Tower's works. The percussion section in particular deserves kudos after meeting the Rouse-like demands made of it in Tambor. Absolutely a worthwhile representation of the best that American art music has to offer.

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