New York Chamber Ensemble
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Excellent survey of American works for chamber orchestra.

Walter Piston's "Divertimento" was commissioned by the International Society for Contemporary Music and given its first performance by an ensemble of New York players at Columbia University in May, 1946. The group was conducted by Dmitri Mitropoulos. "The Three Tone Pictures" of Charles Tomlinson Griffes were originally composed for solo piano in 1915. At the request of Caroline Beebe, the pianist and director of the New York Chamber Music Society, Griffes prepared a chamber ensemble version of the "Tone Pictures." This version was premiered in Greenwich, Connecticut, in June 1920, less than two months after the composer's death. Ned Rorem composed his "Studies" in 1959, at the request of Cameron Baird, the head of the Music Department at Buffalo University. He had hired Rorem to teach a class in composition, give some public lectures and compose a work for chamber ensemble. Unfortunately, Baird died before the premiere of the work, which the composer conducted at the University in May, 1960. Copland's "Sextet" is actually a chamber version of his "Short Symphony." The original work was composed between 1931 and 19933. The chamber version, "Sextet," was composed in 1938 and given its first performance at Town Hall in New York by a group of Juilliard graduate students in February 1939.
Aaron Copland, composer
New York Chamber Ensemble, Stephen Radcliffe, conductor

Charles Griffes, composer
Three Tone Pictures
New York Chamber Ensemble, Stephen Radcliffe, conductor

Walter Piston, composer
New York Chamber Ensemble, Stephen Radcliffe, conductor

Ned Rorem, composer
Eleven Studies for Eleven Players
New York Chamber Ensemble, Stephen Radcliffe, conductor

"While each of these pieces has been recorded before - all but the Piston currently have at least one recording in the catalog - it was an excellent idea to bring all four together on a single disc. They work together extremely well because of their differences as much as because of what they have in common....The performances are very good. The bouncy vitality of the Copland and Piston works is particularly well captured by Radcliffe and his excellent musicians....The recording is good, quite clean and natural, but a little bit close. These flaws aside, this is a most enjoyable disc that should find a welcome place in every collection of American music." (Fanfare)
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