‘American Dreams’: Langrée, CSO to release new recording

Celebrated conductor Louis Langrée may be wrapping up his 11-year tenure as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the next few weeks, but a new recording of some of the maestro’s favorite works aims to ensure local music fans will continue to enjoy his work for years to come.

On Wednesday, the CSO announced plans for its newest recording, “American Dreams,” which Langrée conducted. The project features live performances during the past two seasons with CSO.

This digital-only release includes “Night Creature” by Edward K. “Duke” Ellington, featuring pianist Courtney Bryan, “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Suite from “On the Waterfront.”

“American Dreams” will be available on all streaming platforms on May 3.

“Ellington, Gershwin and Bernstein are in my pantheon of great 20th-century American composers,” Langrée wrote in a statement, referring to these “masterpieces” as “stunning examples of the heart of the American Dream.”

“Each piece on the album is an American tone poem and each is emblematic of the quintessential American music identity,” added Langrée, a native of Alsace, France. “They marry, juxtapose, infuse and weave together different musical ideas, styles and cultures to create a new language.”

“American Dreams” extends the orchestra’s prolific recording legacy, which includes more than 200 commercial recordings that have sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

A lasting legacy in the Queen City

Since arriving in Cincinnati in 2013, Langrée has recorded three other full-length albums with the CSO, which have earned him a pair of Grammy Award nominations for Best Orchestral Performance.

One of those albums, 2019’s “Transatlantic,” featured the first recording of Mark Clague’s critical edition of George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” which stripped the score of Frank Campbell-Watson’s distortion of Gershwin’s original work.

Langrée and CSO also released two singles in 2023: David Lang’s “man made” featuring Sō Percussion and Christopher Rouse’s Symphony No. 6, which the orchestra commissioned for its 125th anniversary season in 2019, and performed just weeks after the composer’s death. 

While recording isn’t new for Langrée or the CSO, this newest work takes on a special, even bittersweet meaning for all involved.

The company’s leadership called the recording a celebration of Langrée’s final season as CSO’s music director. His final performances as full-time director will take place May 10-12 during a weekend-long showcase at Cincinnati Music Hall called “Louis’ Grand Finale.”

Langrée will return to CSO as music director laureate through at least the 2027-28 season. But “American Dreams” will be his final commercial release with the orchestra.

Production for the works was done by CSO’s Fanfare Cincinnati label and distribution is by Naxos of America. The orchestra recorded “Night Creature” and “An American in Paris” on May 12-13, 2023, at Music Hall and “Symphonic Suite” from “On the Waterfront” at the same venue on Oct. 13-14, 2023.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

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