Catalog Number: innova 414
Title: The Henry Brant Collection, Volume 7: A Concord Symphony
Artist: Charles Ives, arr. Henry Brant
Performers: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond. Dennis Russell Davies
Street Date: 11/27/07
Charles Ives (1874-1954), AmericaÂ¹s greatest composer, and Henry Brant (b.
1913), AmericaÂ¹s greatest orchestrator never met in person. In the
transcendental work of this piece, however, they did.
IvesÂ¹s Concord Sonata (1920), a tour de force for any virtuoso pianist, has
long been recognized as one of the most important and visionary works of the
20th century. When Henry Brant started practicing it in 1957 he saw the
potential it had for being the Great American Symphony. Henry Cowell
encouraged him and for the next 36 years, on and off, Brant worked away at
reimagining the work in orchestral terms. His experience as a Hollywood
film composer/orchestrator came in handy: he wrote much of the original
scores to Cleopatra and 2001: A Space Odyssey for which Alex North got the
The connection between Ives and Brant had already been established when
Brant adopted his idea of spatially-separated musicians, as found in The
Unanswered Question. What Ives did once, though, Brant has now done in over
spatial 100 compositions.
As he says: Â³Ives music taught me that there are no limitations as to what
you can express. My orchestration is a service in return for everything IÂ¹ve
learned from him. All I had to do was imagine that symphony. I didnÂ¹t try
to orchestrate in IvesÂ¹ style. I could never have done that. I would have
needed a vision of life just as complex as Ives had. I also wanted the work
to be accessible to conductors, to encourage them to program more works of
his. So, A Concord Symphony is colored by my own visions, just like RavelÂ¹s
or SchoenbergÂ¹s orchestrations of other peopleÂ¹s works.Â²
The Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass., 1840-60 is a musical impression of
the literary figures associated with transcendentalism there: Ralph Waldo
Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May and Amos Bronson Alcott, and Henry
The orchestral version was premiered in 1995. This performance from 2000
features the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell
Henry BrantÂ¹s textbook on orchestration, Textures & Timbres, begun in the
1940s is nearing completion and is set for publication in 2008.
Apparently we had been looking in the wrong place: the Great American
Symphony turns out to be a Sonata after all.
Catalog Number: innova 413
Title: The Henry Brant Collection, Volume 6: Rainforest
Artist: Henry Brant
Performers: Aspen Music Festival Ensemble
Street Date: 11/27/07
Henry Brant (b.1913), AmericaÂ¹s senior experimental composer, has never been
one to shy away from big topics; he has already outdone Leonardo da VinciÂ¹s
coverage of meteors, hurricanes, craters, and forces of nature. Back in
1989, when there was still something to save, long before Al Gore and Sting,
he took on the rainforest.
Written for the Santa Barbara Arts Festival, BrantÂ¹s Rainforest sets
colorful texts by Abd al-Hayy Moore concerning the animals, plants, sounds,
people, and destruction of our planetÂ¹s lungs. The ecology of the forest,
with its myriad connected lives, is matched by the musical performing
forces: four singers and a spatially-separated instrumental ensemble with
Described as an environmental spatial oratorio, Rainforest is heard here in
a stunning performance at the 1989 Aspen Music Festival. It needs to be
listened to more urgently than ever.
Solo voices: Michele Eaton, Mary Nessinger, Mark Conley, William Riley.
Ensemble of 21 instruments conducted by Henry Brant and Amy Snyder.