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Visions and Voices: LA Phil & Dudamel present Music from the Americas
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Phil in a vibrant program of music from North and South America, including John Williams’s Soundings, Alberto Ginastera’s Piano Concerto no. 1, a world premiere by Andrew Norman, and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.
Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) has been considered one of the most important twentieth-century classical composers of the Americas, dividing his own career into three stylistic periods: "objective nationalism" (1934-47), featuring the Argentine landscape and an appropriation of national elements in a primarily tonal manner; "subjective nationalism" (1947 -57), continuing to use Argentine tonal or polytonal language but with refined vernacular elements; and "neo-Expressionism" (1958-83), where he experimented with more aesthetic techniques (dodecaphony, serialism, and magic surrealism) while limiting nationalism in his compositions. (The aforementioned has been paraphrased from Deborah Schwartz-Kates' article in Grove Music Online.)
Below is an official YouTube recording from 1961 by Oscar Tarrago with the Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, conducted by Enrique Bátiz:
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Appalachian Spring is one of Aaron Copland's (1900-1990) most well-known compositions and one could argue a similar status for North American works as well. Originally written as a ballet in 1944 on commission from the choreographer and dancer Martha Graham and premiered by her at the Library of Congress (for which Copland later won the Pulitzer Prize), the orchestral suite version has endured as a favorite of audience and performer alike.
The ending variations of the piece are built upon the Shaker song "Simple Gifts", which has been used in other musical works from Judy Collins to R.E.M. to Weezer. On an interesting (but perhaps not coincidental) side-note, John Williams also composed Air and Simple Gifts for the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
Myriad recordings of Appalachian Spring exist, here's just one: