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Maria Schneider: Playing the Field

The composer-arranger returns to her Midwestern roots

Maria Schneider (photo: Briene Lermitte)
Maria Schneider (photo: Briene Lermitte)

Maria Schneider, 54, has always drawn inspiration from the natural world and from her Midwestern upbringing, but on The Thompson Fields (ArtistShare), those elements come together in a vibrantly pastoral, movingly impressionistic portrait of a vanishing landscape. The Thompson Fields is the first album from Schneider’s acclaimed orchestra in eight years, during which time she continued performing and collaborated with soprano Dawn Upshaw and David Bowie.

The new album pays homage to a neighboring farm where the composer spent much of her childhood in southwest Minnesota, a sparse but beautiful prairie far removed from the crowded urban snarl of New York City, where she lives now. The disc is housed in a hardbound package nearly as gorgeous as the music within, featuring photographs of Schneider visiting the Thompson farm along with paintings of birds-of-paradise by John James Audubon and vintage maps of Minnesota and the upper Mississippi.

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