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Thompson: Testament of Freedo

New York Choral Society; Manha Audio CD
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.11 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. The Testament Of Freedom (1943): The God Who Gave Us Life
2. The Testament Of Freedom(1943): We Have Counted The Cost
3. The Testaments Of Freedom(1943): We Fight Not For Glory
4. The Testament Of Freedom(1943): I Shall Not Die Without A Hope
5. Frostiana(1959) -Texts By Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken
6. Frostiana(1959)- Text By Robert Frost: The Pasture
7. Frostiana(1959)- Texts By Robert Frost: Come In
8. Frostiana(1959)- Texts By Robert Frost: The Telephone
9. Frostiana(1959) - Texts By Robert Frost: A Girl's Garden
10. Frostiana(1959) - Texts By Robert Frost: Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
11. Frostiana(1959) Texts By Robert Frost: Choose Something Like a Star

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Testament to Thompson Dec 3 2002
Format:Audio CD
It is evident that the reason for purchasing and listening to this recording is not to hear the Manhattan Chamber Chorus or the skilled work of Richard Clark, but to have a record of, and an emotional experience with, what may be two of the most important American compositions written in the 20th century. Randall Thompson wrote both of these pieces under commission. "Testament of Freedom" was written in 1939 for the University of Virginia Men's Glee Club and "Frostiana" was written in 1959 for the bicentenial of the Township of Amherst, Massachusetts. Thompson wrote in Gstaad, Switzerland and it was there where he immersed himself in the text of each work. He is, without doubt, one of the most skilled crafters of setting text to music throughout all time. "Testament of Freedom" and "Frostiana" are two very different compositions and the reason for their commission is evident in their overall sound. Firstly, "Testament" was written to inspire nationalism during a time when our country was on the brink of war. Thompson had a strong emotional connection with various areas of Central Europe and his compositions often reflected this. (His now famous "Alleluia" was composed in five days only and a day after Hitler invaded Paris.)"Frostiana" was set to the texts of Robert Frost and though the two of them were in communication a great deal, it is not known to what degree Frost had input in this work. The selection of the poetry and the setting of the music to the text was completed in Switzerland and delivered to Amherst at the end of August in 1959. In looking upon the original scores, it can be seen that meticulous thought was placed into capturing the essence of each poem. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly excellent, but a few problems . . . March 5 2002
Format:Audio CD
I really wanted to like this CD, as I'm very fond of Randall Thompson's choral music. And in many ways I thoroughly enjoyed the performances here.
Let's start with what's right:
1. The balance in the chorus in quite good.
2. The orchestra is excellent.
3. Diction is excellent -- entrances and cut-offs likewise. Vowel-matching has obviously been stressed, and it really helps with the blend.
4. The Testament of Freedom is sung with passion and fire -- precisely what this glorious piece needs. Very well done, indeed.
5. "A Girl's Garden" is utterly delightful! Wonderful clarity, you get a sense of a group of friends telling you a charming story about a village "legend," which is exactly how it should be done, in my opinion.
Now, for some of what I believe are deficiencies:
1. The balance between the orchestra and the chorus in the Testament is off in places. The orchestra overpowers the chorus in some of the quieter parts.
2. As someone else pointed out, the chorus is very noticably FLAT in "The Road Not Taken" -- especially at the end. We're not talking just a minor drift -- it's more like 1/4 tone or more. Surely someone during recording would have noticed?
The problems are enough to keep me from giving this five stars. It's a good recording, and certainly one to have if for no other reason than it's probably the only commercially-available recording of the SATB version of Testament of Freedom. Thompson's setting of Thomas Jefferson's words is extraordinary, and deserves more popularity than it has received. Maybe now that patriotism seems to be back in fashion, this music will receive more play.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great works, lackluster performance Dec 13 2003
Format:Audio CD
The other reviewers here have done well discussing the quality of the works represented on this CD. I will not endeavor to add more.
The recording, however, features VERY lackluster performances by choir and orchestra. The choir sings without giving to the text any sense of connection or textual phrasing. For example, the choir sounds like: "THE - GOD - WHO - GAVE - US - LIBERTY...," instead of: "The God who gave LIBERTY." Every quarter note should not sound the same; rather, the text should be sung musically with a sense of oratory. All quar-ter-notes-should-not-be-equal.
The orchestra sounds pretty, but doesn't have much spark or energy to give the performance an engaging sense.
If you can, find another recording for these great works. You'll be glad you did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Puzzled June 17 2000
Format:Audio CD
I listen on a high quality system and find the recording quiteclean and open. It could, perhaps, challenge systems that lackdefinition and dynamic range.
As far as the performance itself, it is, as far as I know, one of the few performances of "Testament" and the only one of Frostiana available on CD. Testament is big and bold --- appropriate to the music and setting, I think. Frostiana is delightfully nuanced, although it does sound as though it was recorded in more than one setting. For me, this recording is one of the treasures of my collection. I was particularly glad to find it because only a very old release of "Testament" with "grim" acoustics has been available previously. END
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