American Discoveries an exceptional EP

I almost consider this an EP rather than an album. The total playing time is around 30 minutes. But I’m interested in quality over quantity, so the album’s length isn’t an issue.

Reuben Blundell and the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra present three works culled from the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Libary of Philadelphia. “American Discoveries” indeed!

I was not familiar with any of the composers featured on this release. Discovering them — and their music — was a pleasant experience.

Priscilla Alden Beach (1902-1970) is the oldest of the three composers. Her 1928 work City Trees was premiered by Howard Hanson and the Rochester Philharmonic. Like Hanson, Beach wrote in a neo-romantic style that somehow seemed uniquely American. Although Beach eventually abandoned composition, this work shows she possessed real talent.

Linda Robbins Coleman is a composer, conductor, pianist, and music consultant. Her 1996 work “For a Beautiful Land” was inspired by Iowa’s natural beauty. It effectively evokes the wide-open spaces and pioneer spirit of the land. While I heard some Copland influences, Coleman’s music is both original and engaging.

Alexandra Pierce is a movement educator as well as a composer and pianist. And motion is what I heard in her work “Behemoth”. Pierce says the work is “an exploration of musical bas-relief, of the relationship of melody to bass.” That it is. And that struggle provides the work’s forward motion.

The Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra performs superbly under the direction of Reuben Blundell. My only complaint is that it ended all too soon.

These are indeed noteworthy discoveries. And now I have three more composers whose music I need to explore.

American Discoveries
Music by Priscilla Alden Beach; Linda Robbins Coleman; Alexandra Pierce
Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra; Reuben Blundell, conductor
New Focus Recordings FCR 286

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