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  • Moby Dick/Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 [IMPORT]
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Moby Dick/Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 [IMPORT]

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1. Rhapsody: Allegro piacevole - Harold Darke
2. Introduction and Passacaglia: Introduction (Maestoso) / Passacaglia (Andante) - Sir Walter Alcock
3. Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue: Introduction (Adagio) / Passacaglia (Andante moderato) / Fugue - Healey Willan
4. Toccata, Chorale and Fugue: Largo e pesante - Toccata (Allegro) / Largo - Chorale (Larghetto) / Fugue (Giocoso, tempo della Toccata) - Francis Jackson
5. Introduction, Passacaglia and Coda: Introduction (Allegro impetuoso - con moto) / Passacaglia (Andante misurato) / Coda (Come prima) - Brian Brockless

Product Description

Product Description

TROY 260; TROY - Stati Uniti; Classica contemporanea Orchestrale

Mennin (1923-1983) wrote a kind of American music that was part of no school or modernistic trend. His symphonies and large-scale orchestral music tend to be polyphonic. This way he can incorporate any impulse that will serve the music. His Concertato, Moby Dick, of 1952 builds like a Renaissance choral work of flowing melody clusters, intermingled with the kind of contrapuntal energy found in Hindemith. Mennin's symphonies, though, are genuine masterpieces, even if the latter ones are broadly atonal and practically unplayable. Symphonies 5 and 6, though, should be better-known than they are. We need more of this man's music. --Paul Cook

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Four Splendid Works by Peter Mennin 7 Jun. 2001
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The farther that we move from them, the more peculiar and distorted the judgments of America's mid-twentieth century musical mandarins appear. In the single five-year period after World War II, a bevy of American composers reached maturity who wrote in a powerful but accessible idiom that gave elegant expression to the ethos of a great industrial nation at its pinnacle of energy. In addition to Roy Harris and William Schuman, who had debuted slightly earlier, one could count Paul Creston, Walter Piston, David Diamond, Nicolas Flagello, Elie Siegmeister, Norman dello Joio, and Peter Mennin. (To curtail the list arbitrarily.) The seductions of serialism - an Austro-German import - would see the work of these men pushed into undeserved obscurity, as a compositional "lingua franca" based on a misunderstanding of Schoenberg became obligatory in the schools of music. If you weren't "avant-garde," it followed that history had passed you by and made you irrelevant. Schuman and Mennin went into conservatory administration; they all struggled to keep their voices heard, but during their lifetimes it was a vain effort. Let's deal with Mennin, a prodigy whose Third Symphony was performed by the New York Philharmonic before it was accepted as the basis of his doctorate at Eastman Rochester. I admire Schuman but I have always thought Mennin a better symphonist. Schuman's symphonies often strike me as static - this is especially true of the later ones. Mennin's symphonies on the other hand always "travel." One has an immediate sense of direction and drama. The Fifth Symphony (1950) illustrates the point: Its First Movement (1/4=126) charges forward with powerful fanfares in a Hindemithian toccata; the slow Canto takes the form of a passacaglia mostly in strings and woodwinds; the concluding Allegro Tempestuoso is another exercise in rapid counterpoint and fugue. At less than thirty minutes, the Fifth's sinewy gestures make it seem big rather than brief. The Albany Symphony under David Alan Miller puts on a terrific performance, easily outdoing Howard Hanson's vintage account on Mercury. The Sixth Symphony (1953), written for Robert Whitney and the Louisville Orchestra, uses the same three-movement formula. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it.) The First Movement has a slow, rather Hansonesque introduction (Maestoso) that gives way to a muscular Allegro. The slow central movement (Grave) has a modal flavor. Like the other composers of Italian ancestry (Creston, Flagello, Giannini), Mennin preferred the modal to the tempered scales. The Finale (Allegro Vivace) reworks material from the First Movement in a busy moto perpetuo style. Mennin's writing for the brasses is really spectacular. The disc includes two other works by Mennin: The "Concertato" after Melville's "Moby Dick" (1952) and the Fantasia for String Orchestra (1946). The "Concertato" is a one-movement symphony about ten minutes in duration, something like one of Samuel Barber's "Essays" for orchestra, but harder-edged. The Fantasia, in two movements, invokes Renaissance polyphony, which Mennin assiduously mined. The alternative recording of the "Concertato" is under Gerard Schwarz on Delos, coupled with the Third and Seventh Symphonies. But Miller's is the only current listing for the important Sixth Symphony. With Creston on Naxos, Piston on Delos, and a host of other American symphonists of the same vintage once again available, the edict of previous musical wisdom seems to have been happily reversed. I give this disc my highest recommendation.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Very good new versions, spectacularly recorded 22 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Great to see this under-represented composer receiving another modern recording. Full marks again for this to the excellent Albany label. The performances appear to be expert and alert, and also able to build the tensions inherent in the symphonies. The recording quality sounds quite spectacular on my system - superb even by Albany's standards, although the fine acoustic of the Troy Savings Bank Hall certainly helps. I'm not an audiophile for the sake of it, but if I was, I would consider this to be a demo recording.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This music is part of the reason I no longer attend the symphony 1 Jan. 2013
By Neal Schultz - Published on
I won't rehash what has been said before...I agree that Mennin is yet ANOTHER American composer neglected in the symphony hall. This is wonderful music that literally sucks all the air out before it's final incredible tutti climax that leaves you saying "Wow!" Why, why, why is music like this NEVER played live today. The L.A. Philharmonic has called me on numerous occasions to ask me to re-subscribe and my answer is the same "where is all the missing fabulous tonal/accessible music from the 20th century?" Enough of the hand-wringing about the demographic issues with audience decline etc. This is not music for the crowd who wants an "easy" night of a Mozart violin concerto and a Beethoven symphony. This is music that will grab the next generation of music lovers to become lifetime classical music fans -- it's edgy, tuneful, purposive, rewarding and original. Mennin is a composer that is part of a musical idiom that is under-represented and unfortunately one of the woefully many hidden gems not only not heard in America but I fear in the rest of the world. We need more than just Naxos and indie labels to celebrate composers like Mennin. We need to hear them in the concert hall. This recording is really quite wonderful; clear and a joy to disentangle wonderful weave of Mennin's sound world through the crystal sonics of this performance. **Recommended**
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Superb compositions and sound 1 Jun. 2014
By Joseph Kline PhD, MD - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Peter Mennin had a great resume. He studied composition with Howard Hanson at Eastman and then taught there, and he headed Peabody and Julliard. Not bad. For us, the greatest thing about him was that he was an outstanding composer, and we are treated to four of his works on this Albany album: Concertato, "Moby Dick;" Symphony No. 5 and 6; and Fantasia for String Orchestra. David Alan Miller conducts the Albany Symphony Orchestra.

Concertato was inspired by the concept of Moby Dick. I guess you could dream up a story, but I couldn't. This isn't really program music. It is simply an excellent example of superb musical craftsmanship. Mennin was always known for his perfection in writing music. Nothing ever sounds rough or half-baked, but the best part is that his music is enjoyable and can speak to you. Though personally reserved, his compositions are another matter indeed. The music is of course modern, so you can't expect classical melodies and harmony. But the music is very refined and well-constructed. Moby Dick is superbly orchestrated and the Albany Symphony demonstrates no obvious shortcomings. There is a lack of sonic brilliance and sound is a bit homogenized. The dynamic range, however, is extraordinary.

Symphony 5 is perfectly made and of reasonable interest. But there is just something missing, and I think it is likely the fault of the recording and that lack of brilliance mentioned earlier. It needs a finer edge. Still, the music has a finished sense to it. I want to hear someone else perform it with different engineers. In Albany's defense, however, the recording site is known for warmth and astounding dynamics. The 2nd movement is truly beautiful and rather melancholic with a decent melody considering what we usually get in modern music. Timpani are excellently defined in this and throughout this album. The 3rd movement is a striking composition. It proceeds with urgency, easily carrying the listener along to its conclusion.

The Fantasia for String Orchestra is a melancholic work in two movements. The first establishes the melancholic character. The second movement is more intense, and as is the case with Mennin's compositions as a whole, the music demonstrates striking sonorities.

Symphony 6 begins quietly and darkly. The 2nd movement is indicated as Grave and so it sounds with basses playing a significant role. It sounds like a troubling dream that can't end. This isn't melancholy. This is doom. The 3rd and final movement is up tempo but not up mood. The despair continues unabated and then intensifies with brass and timpani. Like Symphony 5, Mennin's Sixth is superbly crafted with no loose ends apparent. He aims to produce a particular mood and gives the work the character that successfully conveys it. Mennin is one of those modern composers that you want to explore because their work is so finished and polished.

The Albany Symphony Orchestra plays superbly. As mentioned earlier, the recording lacks a degree of brilliance but otherwise is exemplary. This is great music. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Gran disco! 25 July 2000
By Francisco J. Muñoz - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Hermoso disco el que nos entrega Albany de música de Peter Mennin. David Alan Miller es uno de los directores jóvenes que más graba música de Norteamérica, lo cual es un gran mérito pues nos da a los melómanos la posibilidad de escuchar obras que de otra manera no estarían en catálogo.
La lectura de Miller es vigorosa y demuestra el prefecto entendimiento de la música que interpreta, no es por nada que ha recibido varios premios por sus interpretaciones de autores americanos. Lo más lindo del programa es la Quinta Sinfonía y el segundo movimiento de la Sexta (Grave). De todos modos a mi gusto de la Quinta tenemos en catálogo otra versión que me satisface más, es la de Howard Hanson en Mercury.
El sonido del disco es muy bueno, pero no tan extraordinario como afirma el crítico anterior.
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