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Gould & Harris Hybrid SACD, SACD

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Product Description

TROY 515; TROY - Stati Uniti; Classica contemporanea Orchestrale

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Mid-20th century Americana 13 Jun. 2003
By Evan Wilson - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is an interesting disc of two attempts at the Great American symphony. Unlike the other reviewer, I think this disc has quite a bit of merit, though I would agree that neither of these pieces IS the Great American Symphony.
The more interesting piece on this disc is the Harris 2nd symphony which the composer suppressed after much difficulties leading up to it's premiere. Conductor Miller has gone back and reinstated all the music that Harris cut at the request of the piece's first conductor.
As it stands here, the piece is 21 minutes of interesting ideas which don't wholely jell. I disagree completely with the other reviewer, however, about the distinctiveness of this music. Anyone who knows Harris' justly famous 3rd Symphony will immediately hear the same fingerprints here. While the melodic material isn't as trenchant as it is in the 3rd, the Harris "sound"--which would be adopted by quite a few composers in the 1940s as a uniquely American sound--is clearly here. And no one else who was writing at that time was writing this way.
Sure, the 2nd symphony doesn't reach the heights of the 3rd, but frankly Harris was a very uneven composer, and little of the music he wrote AFTER the 3rd reached the pinnacle either. So, if you like the Harris sound, you'll want to snap this up, as the only other company likely to approach this music is Naxos, and there's no guarantee they'll produce a complete Harris symphony cycle.
The Gould 3rd symphony is not quite as aurally memorable as the Harris piece, perhaps because Gould here suppresses much of his melodic talent to produce a serious piece. This is rather a mistake, I think, as it renders large bits of the first and last movements as a series of dramatic gestures without real distinction. The middle movements are better with a quiet, serene slow movement being follwed by a rollicking scherzo where the composer's "popular" sound keeps poking its head up. I will listen more to this piece, because I think there are decent things buried beneath the surface, but it clearly isn't a classic.
The Albany symphony and David Alan Miller give solidly professional performances and the sound is great. I did feel, however, that it might have been better if both the conductor and musicians had lived with the music a bit more. There was a certain stiffness to both performances and I thought the Harris, in particular, might have jelled more if the conductor gave more attention to some transitions. Overall, though, if the repertoire intrigues you, you probably should take the plunge because no one else is likely to record either piece.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
More American Symphonic Music Unearthed!! 18 Jun. 2003
By Darin Tysdal - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Like the American Symphony, the classical record industry's American CD series' seem to disappear soon after they come out. Delos' American Series died after a few years (although Naxos is re-releasing them now-Yahoo!), Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony had a cycle of them, which died after Slaktin moved to the National Symphony Orchestra. Now Albany is utilizing David Allan Miller in recording American symphonic music. Buy these cds when you see them because they become scarce fast! We are in all of their debt for these recordings and hope that other labels and orchestras will follow suit. Naxos' American Classics series is definitely a step in the right direction-witness Kenneth Schermerhorn and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Many American composers have symphonies that have been withdrawn. William Schuman's Third Symphony is one of his best-but we probably will never hear Nos. 1 or 2. Peter Mennin did the same thing. Roy Harris' 2nd symphony was withdrawn by the composer. I didn't even know Gould wrote an orchestral symphony (in fact,both composers wrote West Point Symphonies for band.)Again, we should be in Albany's debt for providing us with these works so we can decide. Harris' 2nd symphony has many of the charactaristics of his later style but this work is more reflective in nature. Ditto the Gould symphony, except for the 3rd movement, a "scherzo in Jazz" but like many Gould works, he combines classical and Jazz elements to create a certain style of its own. My own caveat is that I wonder if Miller might have recorded the 2nd version of the last movement of the Gould. The program notes state that Miller was not happy with the revised last movement so he found the original last movement. There is certainly enough time on this disc for that to be included also. Keep 'em coming Naxos and Albany-we are certainly in your debt. Now how about some Wallingford Riegger (whose 1st and 2nd Symphonies were also withdrawn)!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lovely Recording of a Lost Symphony 13 Mar. 2014
By frankebe - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Over the last few years I have listened to over 90 different 20th-century composers' symphonies, and when I return to Roy Harris, I remain impressed. Unlike so many of the others, Harris knows how to start right off with arresting thematic material that immediately engages me. And then he not only builds on this material, but he continues bringing up new interesting ideas and sounds that keep me interested.

I actually like this symphony BETTER than the more famous Third. I prefer the distinct movements, and this symphony does not have the sudden, puzzling and unmotivated change in tone (from buoyant to tragic) that befuddles the Third.

This Second Symphony begins with a striking motto, which is thoroughly developed in a fun, substantial movement that is nonetheless not too long. The orchestration is immediately recognizable as Roy Harris. The slow movement has been the most criticized but it's the movement Harris liked the best; it is certainly as good as any slow movement by Walter Piston or David Diamond (in my opinion, of course). I would not mind if the themes of this movement were a little more "tuneful", but beyond that I find nothing to criticize about this symphony. It's not a big long windy thing, but that's just as well. It is strong, melodic, gorgeously orchestrated, displays a strong personality, approachable and yet does take some concentration to catch it all. What's not to like?

The recording is excellent, the orchestra plays very well, and Harris' orchestration is given a pellucid presentation.

I wish Albany had included another piece by Harris instead of the Gould, which I don't care for, hence the four stars instead of five. I also wish Albany would record the Harris 10th and 12th symphonies, just for the sake of completeness. I would love to hear those works, regardless of whatever flaws they may have. But as they have told me, "It's only a matter of money." Pity...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Surprised By The Unfamiliar 24 Nov. 2009
By johcafra - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I readily admit I don't know enough of either composer's works or other performances to comprehensively judge. I will say the two symphonies complement each other while Gould's Third (with its "original" ending) actually improves with each listen...THAT is uncommon...and I keep hearing just a touch of Hindemith in the middle two movements. Maestro Miller and the ASO are excellent.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
For the Roy Harris complete-o-phile only 28 May 2003
By Ypres - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Well, here it is, the Harris Second Symphony. Frankly, I was beginning to think that I'd never live long enough to hear it. So, to Albany who decided to finally have this work recorded: Thank you. I love you guys dearly. Keep up the good work. I'm a loyal customer.
To the CD consuming public: ahem...for as much as I typically like Roy Harris and his somewhat quirky and lopsided compositional manner, and for as much as I appreciate Gould (though he's never really been my cup of tea), I have to say that the works on this disc left Personally, I was hoping for more from the Harris. I rather expected a sort of compositional ramp-up that would anticipate his more widely known and appreciated Third Symphony. That didn't happen. In fact, nothing seemed to happen. And believe it or not, that's the whole story. Or, to sum it up in a different way, these works are neither here nor there. They are not quite insipid, but then, they're not quite anything else, either.
The bottom line is if you are a Gould nut and must have everything that he's ever composed, or if you are trying to complete the Harris symphonic cycle (which may never really be complete), then this disc is a must. On the other hand if you don't fit into the above catagories, you can safely bypass this disc.
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