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Cat. No. CHAN 9909 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9909 - Dawson & Ellington: Orchestral Works
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Available From: 17 April 2001
Duke Ellington was one of the most prolific of composers. Even The New Grove Dictionary of Music in America gives up on trying to number his compositions, settling for a figure ‘about 2000’. Some of these are short, of course, written to fit on a 78-rpm record. But he always had the desire to tackle larger forms, and when the chance came to him he did so. His son Mercer Ellington recalls that ‘the idea for The River had been kicking around for several years, ever since Stanley Dance had suggested an extended work depicting the natural course of a river’. The elder Ellington composed the music for The River in 1970. Ellington composed Harlem in 1950. It was commissioned, according to Ellington’s recollections, by Arturo Toscanini, as part of a Portrait of New York suite. Ellington’s band recorded it in 1954, and the next year Don Gillis performed it in Carnegie Hall with the Symphony of the Air, the short-lived successor to Toscanini’s NBC Symphony. Ellington’s first flowering as a composer came during his years at the Cotton Club in Harlem, where he played from 1927 to 1932. After Mood Indigo (1930), Solitude was one of Ellington’s greatest hits, both in the original instrumental version and as a song, which continued to bring him a steady flow of royalties over the decades. Dawson began work on the Negro Folk Symphony while in Chicago. On tour with the Tuskegee choir in New York, he showed the manuscript to the conductor Leopold Stokowski who made suggestions for its expansion. In this form, comprising three movements, it was first performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1934. After a trip to West Africa in 1952, however, the composer revised it to embody authentic African rhythmic patterns.
Reviews

‘Given such consistently idiomatic, polished advocacy and agreeably velvety Chandos sound, this release must be deemed a great success.’
Gramophone

‘The trumpets are terrific. Superb recording.’
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

‘The Detroit Symphony has never sounded better, and the engineering of the recording is outstanding.’
Fanfare

 

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