Sound Nation. If any art finds, through tone, a higher ideal for the goodness of America than Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, it's hard to know what it would be. With text excerpted from James Agee, the piece captures the sound of a nation well worth remembering: a blissful state of security and tenderness.Among more recent recordings, Dawn Upshaw's crystalline sound has power. But in a 1959 recording with conductor Thomas Schippers, Leontyne Price has a searching edge of humanity that seems particularly apt right about now. Anyone in need of comfort from the American spirit can do no better than to start here. - Peter Dobrin
Double dose of YNS Bruckner.
Simultaneously, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has released somewhat offbeat Bruckner symphony recordings with two different orchestras. With his Orchestre Métropolitain in Montréal on ATMA, he continues his Bruckner symphony series with the infrequently played Symphony No. 2 (in the 1877 Haas edition). Passages that seem tentative with other conductors feel confident and purposeful under YNS. Meanwhile, a live Dresden Staatskapelle recording of YNS conducting the Symphony No. 3 has come out on Profil in the infrequently heard original 1873 version. Already, at least one critic has named it as a possible best recording of the year, no doubt because the Dresdeners bring their own cultivated authority to everything they play. In fact, both symphonies feel like new experiences. And if you've never heard these editions before, that's a reality-based conclusion.
- David Patrick Stearns