C1380. ROBERT SHAW Cond. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, w.Carmen Pelton, Richard Clement & Nathan Gunn: Prayers Of Kierkegaard (Barber); Cantata Profana(Bartok); Dona nobis pacem (Vaughan Williams). Telarc 80479, recorded 1997. Includes 19pp Brochure w.texts. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! As New, albeit wee notch in jewel case spine. - 089408047923
“Robert Shaw, the renowned choral conductor and the elder statesman and great spirit of American musical performance, was music director of the Atlanta Symphony for 21 years [but] was always most respected for his work with choruses. His lasting monuments include the Atlanta Symphony choruses and the Collegiate Chorale in New York.
For Mr. Shaw, music was always more than a luxury or entertainment. As a form of communication, it was spirit itself, a moral force. In 1945 Mr. Shaw prepared choruses for performances by Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra, including famous accounts of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. In 1948, he founded the Robert Shaw Chorale, a professional group of 40, which toured and recorded and made his name synonymous with excellent choral performance. Mr. Shaw conducted the San Diego Symphony from 1953 to 1958. He left the Collegiate Chorale in 1954 and became associate conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell from 1956 to 1967. He raised the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus to new heights. In 1967, Mr. Shaw disbanded his chorale and moved to Atlanta, where he served as music director of the Atlanta Symphony until 1988. He oversaw the orchestra's transition from a part-time group of 60 players to a full-time, year-round ensemble of 93. He conducted the Atlanta Symphony in its Carnegie Hall debut, in 1971, and at the inauguration of President Carter in Washington, in 1977. He led its first European tour, in 1988.
In 1967, Mr. Shaw founded the Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus, and three years later he added the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. He retained close ties to both until his death.
Already in 1943, the National Association of Composers and Conductors ‘named Mr. Shaw 'America's greatest choral conductor’. That reputation grew and was certified in 1990, when Carnegie Hall established an annual series of professional workshops under his direction. Mr. Shaw's rehearsal techniques, isolating rhythm, pitch or enunciation, were calculated for maximum effect and efficiency, and could seem mechanistic at times. He carried a similar pragmatism into his treatment of scores. He might reseat singers, mixing voices to achieve a homogeneous overall sound, or shift voices to another line if it suited his concept of the desired sonority or the way that sonority was best projected.
It was possible to admire Mr. Shaw's craftsmanship and respect his achievement without invariably swooning at the results. Often enough, all those spiritual elements that went into the making of a performance shone through nobly, but at times a performance could seem merely ‘perfect’ - meticulous, wondrously refined, even powerful - without piercing to the heart. Still, his achievement is likely to remain the standard for many decades, largely in the hands of the disciples he cultivated. As for Mr. Shaw himself, he is undoubtedly already appraising the heavenly choirs with a critical ear, wondering how best to go about shaping them up. He will probably not be diplomatic about the need to do so.”
- James R. Oestreich, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 26 Jan., 1999
“Popular baritone Nathan Gunn has sung a huge variety of operatic roles in six languages, from Figaro in the BARBER OF SEVILLE and Marcello in LA BOHČME to Zurga in THE PEARL FISHERS and Paul in Daron Hagen's AMELIA (at the May 2010 world premiere) and Riolobo in Daniel Catán's FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS. Gunn has also sung Lancelot in Lerner and Loewe's classic Broadway musical CAMELOT. But, as many observers have noted, Gunn's popularity can't be fully explained by his rich and powerful baritone voice and broad repertory: throngs of his adoring admirers gush over his handsome looks and charismatic stage presence. Gunn has appeared at the Met in over 100 performances and at most other major American opera houses; overseas he has sung at Covent Garden, the Glyndebourne Festival, Paris Opera, and Bavarian State Opera. Gunn has also regularly appeared on the concert stage and in recital and has made numerous recordings spread across such labels as Arthaus Musik, EMI, Naxos, Sony, Telarc, and Virgin Classics.
By the late '90s, Gunn was a major presence on the vocal scene, having appeared twice at Carnegie Hall with conductor Robert Shaw, first in Brahms' GERMAN REQIUEM and then in Haydn's THE CREATION. Gunn also sang on the Grammy Award-winning 1998 Shaw recordings of Bartók's CANTATA PROFANA and Vaughan Williams' DONA NOBIS PACEM on Telarc.
In 2000 Gunn appeared at the Paris Opera as Andrei in Prokofiev's WAR AND PEACE, an Arthaus Musik DVD that has received broad critical acclaim. Gunn débuted at Covent Garden in 2002 as Harlekin in Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS. Since 2007 Gunn has served as professor of voice at the University of Illinois. At the 2008 Glyndebourne Festival Gunn appeared as Father Delura in Peter Eötvös' LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS. Gunn's later recordings include the 2009 EMI CD ‘American Anthem’, a collection of songs by Barber, Bolcom, Copland, and other American composers.”
- Robert Cummings, allmusic.com