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American Celebration

29 MAY 09 JASON SERINUS

As Memorial Day rolls around each year, thoughts often turn to America's enduring impact on the rest of the world. While any attempt at far-reaching political analysis is beyond the scope of this blog, thank God, we do have American Jubilee, a classic Telarc recording as a reference point for assessing America's musical heritage.

A most colorful orchestral spectacular from Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, it includes everything from arrangements of "Yankee Doodle," "Dixie," "America the Beautiful," and "God Bless America" to Ives' hilarious Variations on "America" and Copland's Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring.

Beyond the inevitable Stars & Stripes Forever and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" we find such less frequently encountered titles as three selections from Gottschalk's Cakewalk, Chadwick's Jubilee from Symphonic Sketches, Gould's American Salute, and Williams' Liberty Fanfare. Everywhere Kunzel and crew invest their performances with a care and delight that lifts them far above the commonplace. The grace that surfaces in the middle of Chadwick's Jubilee from Symphonic Sketches, and the conviction of the May Festival Chorus, are cases in point.

David Loebel's six pages of well-researched liner notes are a special bonus. I can't be the only person on the planet who had no idea that the Confederacy's official battle song, "Dixie," was composed by famed blackface performer and Union-sympathizer Dan Emmett, or that "Yankee Doodle" was once sung by the British to poke fun at the colonists who soon stole the New World away from them. Great stuff.

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    Ward: America the Beautiful

    Erich Kunzel & Cincinnati Pops Orchestra ...

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    God Bless America

    Rosemary Clooney, from The Best Of The ...

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