Farwell: Songs, Choral, and Piano Works; String Quartet

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Arthur Farwell has been called ‘the most neglected composer in [American musical] history.’ As the leader of the ‘Indianists’ movement, Farwell believed it was a democratic obligation of Americans of European descent to try to understand the indigenous Americans they displaced and oppressed. To this end, he merged elements of Indian music and lore with Western concert forms. The performances here recorded originated at a landmark PostClassical Ensemble festival at Washington’s National Cathedral. The Dakota String Quartet, resident quartet of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO), comprises principal string players of the orchestra. First violin Doosook Kim has been concertmaster with the SDSO since 1995 and performs as a soloist and chamber musician in the US and internationally.


The program here gives a sense of Farwell’s encounter with Native American traditions. At times, he simply provided Native American melodies with European-style accompaniment, but consider the opening String Quartet in A major, Op. 65 (“The Hako”), inspired by a Pawnee ceremony. It quotes Native American music lightly but mostly draws in it more abstractly, in phrase structure, melodic contour, and pitch collections, and it has a subjective aspect of being drawn to the mysteries of the ceremony. The performance by the Dakota String Quartet is detailed and convincing. Elsewhere, there are fine performances by baritone William Sharp, the University of Texas Chamber Singers, and Emanuele Arciuli, an Italian pianist specializing in American music. The issues raised by Farwell’s music will not go away, but he deserves a new look at the least.

-- AllMusic.com (James Manheim)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 22, 2021

  • Catalog Number: 8559900

  • UPC: 636943990025

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Arthur Farwell

  • Conductor: James Morrow

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Dakota String Quartet, University of Texas Chamber Singers

  • Performer: Emanuele Arciuli, William Sharp


  1. String Quartet, Op. 65, "The Hako"

    Composer: Arthur Farwell

    Ensemble: Dakota String Quartet

  2. Indian Songs (3), Op. 32

    Composer: Arthur Farwell

    Performer: William Sharp (Baritone), Emanuele Arciuli (Piano)

  3. Indian Songs (4), Op. 102/3: Pawnee Horses

    Composer: Arthur Farwell

    Ensemble: University of Texas Chamber Singers

    Conductor: James Morrow

  4. From Mesa and Plain, Op. 20: No. 2. Pawnee Horses

    Composer: Arthur Farwell

    Performer: Emanuele Arciuli (Piano)

  5. Navajo War Dance No. 2, Op. 29

    Composer: Arthur Farwell

    Performer: Emanuele Arciuli (Piano)

  6. Dawn, Fantasy on 2 Indian Themes, Op. 12

    Composer: Arthur Farwell

    Performer: Emanuele Arciuli (Piano)

  7. Impressions of the Wa-Wan Ceremony of the Omahas, Op. 21

    Composer: Arthur Farwell

    Performer: Emanuele Arciuli (Piano)