George Templeton Strong (1856-1948) is another fringe figure championed by Naxos in their American Classics series. His music isn't particularly original, nor are there any masterpieces here, but the music is really enjoyable, atmospheric and well worth hearing. Strong was himself an admirer and friend of Wagner and Liszt and later a strong supporter for Richard Strauss and Glazunov (among others), but negative to Stravinsky - something which should provide an indication of the style here. The works on this disc reflects a certain eclecticism - Wagner, Liszt and perhaps even Richard Strauss are audible influences, but so are, say, Mendelssohn and one could perhaps sum up his style as a late romantic, more eclectic, Raff - at times possibly inspired by impressionism as well. The symphonic poem Le Roi Arthur was premiered (by Ansermet) in 1918. It is a large-scale work, consisting of three connected movements clocking in at more than 40 minutes and perhaps a little to long for its material. It depicts various episodes in the life of King Arthur and contains some fine music and some imaginative touches, but isn't really particularly memorable (I was never bored when listening to it, though - it's just that nothing stuck).
Die Nacht, from 1913, is a set of four smaller tone poems titled `At Sunset', `Peasant's Battle-March', `In an old Forest' and `The Awakening of the Forest-Spirits'. The first movement is a colorfully, romantic pastoral scene, the second a genial but simple march heavily indebted to the Mendelssohn of the Midsummer Night's dream and the third is another vividly painted, pastoral scene. It is the final movement that is the gem here, though; it is an evocative, lushly scored, magical dance-scene, imaginatively written and superbly scored. In fact, the last movement could, I suspect, become something of a hit, given a chance. No real complaints about the performances, which are spirited and more than up to the tasks set before them. The sound quality is good as well, and in the end I think this one deserves a modest recommendation for fans of well-written, atmospheric late romantic music.