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Rate "Air and Simple Gifts"


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Rate "Air and Simple Gifts"  

42 members have voted

  1. 1. Rate "Air and Simple Gifts"

    • 5 stars
      10
    • 4.5 stars
      8
    • 4 stars
      12
    • 3.5 stars
      2
    • 3 stars
      7
    • 2.5 stars
      2
    • 2 stars
      1
    • 1.5 stars
      0
    • 1 star
      0
    • .5 stars
      0
    • 0 stars
      1


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The more I hear this piece, the more I love it. The way JW always manages to intertwine all the instruments, giving each a moment of glory hear and there, passing the melody from one to another, is absolutely breathtaking. And I like how it starts with Williams' on thing, followed by his very new take on the Shaker melody, and ending with a reference back to the beginning.

I'll give it a 4.5, but it's closer to 5 than it is to 4.

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Hmmm...tough to say. I haven't listened to it enough. I certainly liked it, but rating an arrangement is different from rating an original composition. (I did very much like the bookends that he composed. I'd easily give those bits a 4 or 4.5, at least.)

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3 stars. Marvellous playing and interesting stuff, but I would have preferred a totally original composition, not an arrangement of an existing tune. Also I don't really like the ensemble for an occasion like this. As I have said before, I would have been thrilled with an orchestral piece, either introvert or more exuberant.

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  • 7 years later...

3 stars from me. It's an OK piece, but the fact that it isn't entirely original, and that it's pretty much an easy "Americana" piece that Williams can do in his sleep, it doesn't really rise beyond that, IMO.

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The level of exuberance and excitement in the arrangement is incredible. :wub:

 

From what I've read I think people were expecting/wanted a big fanfare, but I think sometimes people forget that "epic power" is not the only celebratory emotion. JW really focuses on the excitement of what lies ahead for America, rather than looking back at how great it is that we finally got to this moment, it almost seems. 

 

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5 hours ago, Bespin said:

What do you rate here, the original air (not by Williams) or the variations skills of John Williams?

 

 

The air was an original composition by Williams. 

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13 minutes ago, Tom said:

The air was an original composition by Williams. 

 

Only partially. Portions of the piece are based on Copland's version of the shaker hymn "Simple Gifts", as previously mentioned.

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10 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

Only partially. Portions of the piece are based on Copland's version of the shaker hymn "Simple Gifts", as previously mentioned.

 

I think what @Tom might mean is that the "Air" is JW and the "Simple Gifts" is Copland/JW. 

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The Air that starts and ends the piece is Williams original. The central portion is an arrangement of "Simple Gifts", the shaker hymn Copland quoted on his wonderful Ballet for Martha, Appalachian Spring. I should point out that the Air itself shares the same kind of feeling and momentum with the opening of Appalachian Spring, with those long, sustained chords.

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As a concert piece—not much here. As a fit for the occasion and the person, 5/5. Obama's love of Copland is well-known, and he even performed the Lincoln Portrait with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a senator in 2005.

http://www.insidethearts.com/sticksanddrones/super-music-tuesday/

Quote

Despite the fact that the Senator doesn’t read music he’s not about to show up anywhere unprepared. He has taken the time to work up the narration, listen to several recordings, and go over it a couple of times with a pianist, all to get a serious handle on what he’s about to do. I have to admit I’m impressed. The guy knows the gig. A short while later we’re in front of the CSO. … Rehearsal is as smooth as can be. I discover that the Senator is very quick on his feet. If he’s a little ahead of me with his narration all I had to do was one very subtle gesture and he gently taps the brakes.

 

 

Here's a fun collaboration: Williams, Obama, and the CSO recording Lincoln Portrait. Obama will have some time on his hands—why not go pick up another Grammy?

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Oh my goodness I had no idea that existed! I have long thought that Obama should perform the spoken word part of Lincoln Portrait, my favorite Copland composition. I didn't know he had! Thanks!  And I agree, there needs to be a proper recording of that.

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  • 2 months later...

Just felt like coming here to say how disastrously awful this performance is:

 

 

I don't mean to demean any of the musicians, who are all wonderful (and three of them played on the brilliant official recording anyway!)

 

I guess they just didn't get enough time to practice for something like this. 

 

And, also, I guess I'm just used to the perfect studio recording. Just goes to show how difficult it must have been to get the official recording right. 

 

I suppose this other recording did allow me to appreciate some of the details that couldn't really be heard well in the official recording, though... So that was great. 

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14 hours ago, Will said:

Just felt like coming here to say how disastrously awful this performance is:

 

14 hours ago, Will said:

I suppose this other recording did allow me to appreciate some of the details that couldn't really be heard well in the official recording, though... So that was great

 

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1 hour ago, Richard said:

To my shame, I have never heard this. I watched the ceremony, in '09, but some idiot BBC journalist talked all over it!

Ho, hum. 

Which CD is it on?

 

It is available on the Music of America: John Williams CD compilation, which also includes the reworked suite from Memoirs of a Geisha.

 

Music of America

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49 minutes ago, Omen II said:

 

It is available on the Music of America: John Williams CD compilation, which also includes the reworked suite from Memoirs of a Geisha.

 

Music of America

 

Thank you, Omen, I'll check it out, asap.

 

 

47 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

Rubbish CD. Doesnt even have Trumps Theme!

 Bugger Trump's Theme!

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20 hours ago, Will said:

Just felt like coming here to say how disastrously awful this performance is:

 

 

I don't mean to demean any of the musicians, who are all wonderful (and three of them played on the brilliant official recording anyway!)

 

I guess they just didn't get enough time to practice for something like this. 

 

And, also, I guess I'm just used to the perfect studio recording. Just goes to show how difficult it must have been to get the official recording right. 

 

I suppose this other recording did allow me to appreciate some of the details that couldn't really be heard well in the official recording, though... So that was great. 

 

 

I think It's actually a pretty great performance, just slightly marred by rather unspectacular acoustics. 

 

I, too, might prefer the flow of the original recording, as well as the air of solemn severity it had . But there's a freshness to the 'brillante'  section in this new recording that to my mind seems to sparkle quite wonderfully!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Richard said:

That's A+SG?! Oh, dear, it sounds like some high school ensemble, playing a badly orchestrated tune, composed by a second-year music student.

I do hope that any studio recording is better than this?

 

The official studio recording (which was mimed to on inauguration day):

 

 

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On 29.1.2017 at 5:11 PM, Richard said:

That's A+SG?! Oh, dear, it sounds like some high school ensemble, playing a badly orchestrated tune, composed by a second-year music student.

I do hope that any studio recording is better than this?

 

I also think it sounds rather well-played, but seems to be extremely close-miked without any real amount of room reverb... which is unusual to listen to. But since it seems to be a live recording, optimal acoustics can't be expected.

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On 1/29/2017 at 9:57 AM, Marcus said:

 

 

I think It's actually a pretty great performance, just slightly marred by rather unspectacular acoustics. 

 

I, too, might prefer the flow of the original recording, as well as the air of solemn severity it had . But there's a freshness to the 'brillante'  section in this new recording that to my mind seems to sparkle quite wonderfully!

 

Hmm, maybe it is just the non-studio mix that was making it sound awful to my ears. And my being used to the original.

 

I'm becoming more and more used to it the more I listen, to be sure!

 

But to more specifically articulate what bothered me: For one, the piano's "stomping" nature, rather than the gracefulness of the original recording. Sometimes it just overpowers. I'm used to hearing the strings in the "melody," and to hear the piano just take over at points can be jarring. 

 

For example on first listen this passage was horrifying:

 

 

Compare to this, what I was used to:

 

 

On the other hand, though, the Tanglewood recording helped me realize that the piano was playing the Simple Gifts melody behind (or, at Tanglewood, in front of) the strings. Which is cool!

 

But I still liked having the strings take the lead there rather than the piano (although, again, I suppose that could just be due to me hearing it that way first!)

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  • 3 years later...
3 hours ago, lemoncurd said:

any news about next wednesday's (musical) program? 

 

I've wondered if Williams might have any involvement, too.

 

It's not beyond the realms of possibility; he's had a whole year off (though only a month or two to compose something to celebrate Biden's inauguration) but I doubt he'll be traveling to Washington DC to conduct anything.

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Given COVID restrictions I wouldn't expect much.  The President's Own have played for every inauguration since 1801, so I'm sure they'll be there but in a reduced capacity.  Maybe there'll be a pop singer lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track...and not much else.

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The Marine Band had a livestream of pre-recorded new performances of Inauguration themed music, highlighting their 220 years of participating in these events.

 

The program included a performance of "Air and Simple Gifts"!

 

(introduction at 33:15, performance at 34:13)

 

 

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