“What a wonderful recording I received, a really good choice of program.” – Leslie Kandell, The New York Times
Classical pianist Lara Downes takes us on a journey through the heart and soul of the USA with her second Postcards Records album, “Lara Downes: American Ballads”. On the acclaimed recording, Downes takes a look at some 20th Century American composers that have been influenced by the aural landscape that surrounded them, namely popular song, Jazz, and Folk music. American Ballads features compositions by Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives and others, but one of the highlights of the CD is the world premiere recording of legendary Jazz composer/saxophonist Benny Golson’s Classical composition “On Gossamer Wings”, which Lara debuted at Lincoln Center
“A most delightful artist, with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship.” – National Public Radio
“Here is technique so good you’re not even aware of it… and yet she never flaunts it, never gets in the way of the music.” – Lynnda Greene, Fanfare Magazine
As a Classical music concept album, “American Ballads” revisits a vanished but not-so-distant era in the United States. American music is as diverse and as varied in its origin as the people who live here and the landscapes we inhabit. Its distinct and beautiful flavor comes from the confluence of these many musical references, and from its very American spirit of independence and adventure. On this recording we find music of many forms and inspirations: an Appalachian Folk melody, a languid Blues, a lounge singer’s romance, the big-city sounds of the Jazz age, a tranquil hymn, a tender lullaby – all are beautiful and unique American Ballads.
“…an imaginative mix…rhythmical and colorful… Very, very pleasing.” – Michael Barone, Public Radio Music Source
“A stylish force at the keyboard.” – Miami Sun Sentinel
This impressive Postcards CD, entitled “Lara Downes: American Ballads”, is not only a collection of music inspired by many distinct American voices, but serves as proof of Lara Downes’ imaginative musical vision, and is a testimony to the talent of one of the world’s great young Classical pianists.
|Excursions, Opus 20
1. I Un Poco allegro
2. II In slow blues tempo
3. III Allegretto
4. IV Allegro molto
|(Samuel Barber, 1944)||2:52
|Four Piano Blue
5. I Freely Poetic
6. II Soft and Languid
7. III Muted and Sensuous
8. IV With Bounce
|(Aaron Copland, 1949)||2:28
|9. On Gossamer Wings
|(Benny Golson, 2000)||10:21|
10. I Streets of Laredo
11. II Wayfaring Stranger
12. III The Bird
13. IV Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair
14. V Cod Liver Ile
|(Roy Harris, 1947)||1:40
|North American Ballads
15. III Down by the Riverside
|(Frederic Rzewski, 1979)||5:54|
|2nd Piano Sonata: “Concord, Mass. 1840-1860”
16. III The Alcotts
|(Charles Ives, 1909-15)||5:30|
|Suite from The Plow That Broke the Plains
17. I Prelude
18. II Cowboy Songs
19. III Blues
|(Virgil Thompson, 1942)||0:52
|21. American Nocturne||(Dana Suesse, 1942)||3:43|
Lara Downes: Solo piano
Produced by: Bob Karcy
Total Time: Approx 64 minutes
About Lara Downes:
Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, a trailblazer both on and off the stage, whose musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family and collective memory. As a chart-topping recording artist, a powerfully charismatic performer, a curator and tastemaker, Downes is recognized as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene.
Lara Downes has attracted attention as one of the most exciting and communicative young pianists of today’s generation, called “a most delightful artist, with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship” by National Public Radio, where she is currently the host of Amplify with Lara Downes… Her intense musicality, brilliant virtuosity and electrifying personality consistently thrill audiences at the world’s leading concert venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Salle Gaveau.
Lara’s recordings have met with great critical and public acclaim. Her debut CD on Postcards Records, “Invitation to the Dance”, was called “A magical little recording” by National Public Radio. Her second release, “American Ballads”, was ranked by Amazon.com among the four best recordings of American music ever made and was featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today”.
Downes’ forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including America Again, hailed by The Boston Globe as “a balm for a country riven by disunion.”
With a fierce commitment to arts advocacy, Downes enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, including multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Rhiannon Giddens, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, folk icon Judy Collins, writer Adam Gopnik, and former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, Paola Prestini, Clarice Assad, Michael Abels, and many others.