Amer­i­can Land­scapes

BBC Music Magazine - - Instrumental Reviews -

Far­well: From Mesa and Plain; Sour­wood Moun­tain, Op. 78, No. 3; Ed­ward Macdow­ell: Wood­land

Sketches; Wil­liam Grant Still:

A De­serted Plan­ta­tion; plus pieces by Cad­man, Co­p­land, Grainger,

Roy Har­ris, AP Hein­rich, W Ma­son, and Orn­stein

Ce­cile Li­cad (pi­ano)

Dig­i­tal Clas­sics DACOCD 800 76:03 mins A Dan­ish record la­bel, a Filip­ina pi­anist, and an on­go­ing ‘An­thol­ogy of Amer­i­can Pi­ano Mu­sic’: it’s a heart­en­ing global com­bi­na­tion in these di­vi­sive times. Ce­cile Li­cad’s third in­stal­ment brings us to land­scapes, some­thing Amer­ica has in dra­matic va­ri­ety and abun­dance. Viewed strictly as mu­sic, though, much of her se­lec­tion ap­pears his­tor­i­cally in­ter­est­ing but stunted. There’s lit­tle jaw-drop­ping splen­dour or artis­tic breadth in Arthur Far­well’s ‘Navajo War Dance’ and its com­pan­ions in From Mesa and Plain, or Wil­liam Grant Still’s thinly stretched set A De­serted Plan­ta­tion. Li­cad her­self shriv­els some of the mu­sic’s ap­peal by be­ing overly fierce in at­tack (Amer­i­can res­i­dent Grainger’s Spoon River) or un­duly dour – a dis­tinct ten­dency in Macdow­ell’s Wood­land Sketches, though the col­lec­tion ad­mit­tedly is less cosy than its ti­tle sug­gests.

Sur­prises and de­lights do ex­ist: there’s the dis­arm­ing naivety of An­thony Philip ★ein­rich’s Min­strel’s March; the florid Euro­pean dec­o­ra­tions flow­ing through Wil­liam Ma­son’s Sil­ver Spring; and Leo Orn­stein’s A Morn­ing in the Woods, be­nign very late im­pres­sion­ism from a com­poser most fa­mous for gran­ite dis­so­nances. And though Li­cad might be blunt with Macdow­ell’s ‘To a Wa­ter Lily,’ she’s gen­tle else­where, and is sym­pa­thet­i­cally recorded. Ge­off Brown



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