This splendid 5-CD set bring together acclaimed and important recordings. In 2009, to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, the Nashville Symphony, Leonard Slatkin and Naxos selected eight important works by leading American composers, some setting Lincoln's own immortal words, some words of poets inspired by him, others based on Lincoln?s life and ideals. What was it like to be one of the millions of immigrants coming to America through Ellis Island early in the 20th Century? Dear Mrs Parks features a massive ensemble comprised of full orchestra plus two choirs and four vocal soloists. Influenced by blues, jazz, African music and Gospel music, it pays homage to Rosa Parks in the form of imaginary letters to the civil rights heroine. Pare Lorentz's The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1937) are landmark American documentary films (also available on Naxos DVD 2110521).
CD 1-2 Abraham Lincoln Portraits (855937374) - Ives Lincoln the Great Commoner, Persichetti A Lincoln Address Op 124, Harris Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight, Bacon Ford's Theater, Gould Lincoln Legend, McKay To a Liberator, Turok Variations on an American Song: Aspects of Lincoln and Liberty Op 20, Copland Lincoln Portrait (Barry Scott, narrator, Sharon Mabry, mezzo-soprano, Mary Kathryn van Osdale, violin, Anthony LaMarchina, cello, Roger Wiesmeyer, piano, Nashville Symphony Chorus, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conductor)
CD 3 Boyer Ellis Island - The Dream of America (8559246) (Blair Brown, Louis Zorich, Olympia Dukakis, Eli Wallach, Bebe Neuwirth, Barry Bostwick, Anne Jackson, actors, Philharmonia Orchestra, Peter Boyer, conductor)
CD 4 Lokumbe Dear Mrs Parks (8559668) (Janice Chandler-Eteme, soprano, Jevetta Steele, mezzo-soprano, Kevin Deas, bass, Taylor Lee Gardner, soprano, Rackham Symphony Choir, Brazeal Dennard Chorale, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Wilkins, conductor)
CD 5 Thomson The Plow that Broke the Plains, The River (8559291) (PostClassical Ensemble, Angel Gil-Ordonez, conductor)
Running Time: 4 hr 31 min
'For over a decade now, Naxos American Classics has released a treasure trove of music from the United States; it's a collection of repertoire which both reaches back to the dawn of our nation and embraces brand new works, and much of it is unavailable anywhere else. Listening to these recordings is a way to sonically experience the history of our country and its landscape. The four Naxos American Classics releases selected for this Americana collection (which include a total of five CDs) focus on some of the defining moments of that history. First, there is a panorama of works inspired by Abraham Lincoln in definitive performances conducted by American music champion Leonard Slatkin (including Aaron Copland's celebrated Lincoln Portrait as well as a little-known work by Vincent Persichetti commissioned for the second inauguration of Richard Nixon!). Then Hannibal Lokumbe's rousing tribute to Rosa Parks, one of the icons of the Civil Rights Movement, features the Detroit Symphony and the combined singers of two of Michigan's most venerable choruses. Next, Peter Boyer's dramatic account of the arrival of immigrants to Ellis Island in the early 20th century is narrated by an all-star cast including Eli Wallach and Olympia Dukakis. Finally, the recording I personally find most fascinating, the first-ever complete recordings of two film scores by Virgil Thomson for 1930s documentaries detailing the plight of rural Americans prior to the New Deal. FDR attempted to screen one of these films, The Plow that Broke the Plains, before a joint session of congress, but the capitol chambers were not properly equipped to do so; it did, however, become the first film to be placed in the US congressional archives.' (NewMusicBox)