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Classical Album of the Week: American Romantics III by the Landsdowne Symphony

October 21, 2019. Fine playing of rarely heard Romantic repertoire makes for a winning combination. Our Classical Album of the Week, American Romantics III, performed by the Landsdowne Symphony, won this year’s American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for performance of American Music.To choose repertoire for the album, Reuben Blundell, the Landsdowne Symphony’s Music Director, mined Romantic treasures from the rich resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s renowned Fleisher Collection (Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music.)

David Stanley Smith’s 1915 “Prince Hal, An Overture,” based on Shakespeare’s Falstaff, opens the album with zest and fire.

Edward MacDowell’s “At an Old Trysting Place,” arranged by Edmund Tiersch, from the Woodland Sketches, and Cecil Burleigh’s “At Sunset” from Rocky Mountain Sketches, feature  material that may be familiar to our listeners in their original versions for solo piano and for violin and piano, respectively.

Less well-known are “Minnehaha’s Vision,” and “The Song of Chibaibos,” by Carl Busch, an American composer and conductor who emigrated to the U.S. from Denmark, and who took inspiration from Native American themes. Gena Branscombe, a Canadian-American female composer, is represented in  “A Memory,” dedicated to the celebrated American violinist Maud Powell.

The Landsdowne Symphony gives an impressive and warm performance of the music of Pennsylvania native Charles Wakefield Cadman’s substantial Thunderbird Suite (1918,) drawn from music which Cadman intended to accompany a play based on Native American themes and mythology.

Swiss-American composer Ludwig Bonvin’s “Festival Procession” closes out this award-winning album, which Grammophon Magazine has praised as “appealing and accomplished.”

Debra's last day on the air at WRTI was September 21st, 2021. She's now the radio host for The Metropolitan Opera. Read more here.