The New Yorker hailed Joan Tower as one of the most successful women composers of all time and Made in America – the work that serves as the overall title of this CD – has already achieved the enviable state of having been performed in all 50 states of the U.S. It is a 13-minute fantasy based on America the Beautiful. Tower’s music is spirited and confident, and that includes confidence in a generally tonal but not retro approach. Its bold sort of sound fits in well with the “American” sonic palette of Copland, Ives and others, without sounding like any of them.
The orchestra’s percussion section gets a workout during Tambor, which was inspired by the composer’s love of percussion and especially the percussion in South American music. Tower’s Concerto for Orchestra is intended as a modern counterpart to Bartok’s work of the same name. The orchestra’s individual instruments are displayed in solo form, paired up, and as entire sections. This work especially points up the high level performance standards of the Nashville Symphony. Naxos’ recording captures well all three works – the first two of which are world premiere recordings. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Made in America doesn’t turn up on some concert programs this 4th of July week.
– John Sunier