Christopher Hogwood

Music for the Theatre, Vol. 2

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One might be forgiven for doubting this disc before hearing it. After all, Christopher Hogwood, the English conductor who spearheaded historically informed performance practice in the works of Handel and Mozart, may not seem a likely candidate for leading works by 20th century American modernists Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber. And the Kammerorchester Basel, the self-governed Swiss ensemble whose colors are plangent, whose textures are translucent and whose balances are transparent, may not seem likely to have the correct accent for the idiom of 20th century American modernism. But, as Hogwood and the Basel band had already demonstrated on their earlier recordings together of works by Bizet, Strauss, Martinu, Stravinsky and Honegger, music is truly a universal language for them, and despite initial doubts, this disc quickly, easily and unobtrusively insinuates itself into the listener's heart. Hogwood proves he really does have the measure of Copland and Barber's music. His performances are light on their feet, direct in their emotion and grand but not pretentious in their rhetoric. And the Swiss players really do have a feel for Copland and Barber's music. Their glowing colors and pastoral rhythms in Copland's Appalachian Spring, their bright colors and spiked rhythms in Barber's Capricorn Concert, and especially their sentimental colors and urban rhythms in Copland's Music for the Theatre are all exactly right. Even in Arte Nova's full but slightly hollow sound, this disc will please even hardcore fans of Copland and Barber.

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