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Symphony No. 4
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Symphony No. 4

Albany Symphony Orchestra; David Alan Miller
18 Oct 2006 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Feb 2005
  • Label: Albany Records
  • Copyright: 2005 Albany Records
  • Total Length: 1:02:10
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001H77ATE

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Viva Americana! Some very effervescent takes on Creston's Sunny, Lyrical side. 2 Nov 2005
By David Anthony Hollingsworth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Thanks in part to Albany Records' ever-so-lasting enterprising initiatives, the music of Paul Creston is making something of a comeback. Victimized by the fashion/trendy oriented critics of the 1960s and beyond, more and more listeners of today are realizing the true value of Creston's work in American music. This album does a wonderful justice to his musical art with the playing by all involved that's quite immaculate, vital, sympathetic, and not at all unfeeling from start to finish.

Commissioned by the Association of Women's Committee for Symphony Orchestra, Janus (1959) demonstrates Creston at his most imaginative. The beautiful yet dramatic prelude is spellbinding for its enigmatic rhetoric that reminds me of Barber and Hanson but also, strangely perhaps, of Janis Ivanovs (Latvia's foremost composer of the Twentieth Century). There's something mysterious in the articulacy of the strings and oboe solo that penetrates the listener. The dance, however, brings out more of its Bernsteinian outgoingness and paganism, with the instrumentation that has plenty of verve and some exotic coloring. And it is that sense of coloring and keen imagination that forms the very appeal to Creston's Second Violin Concerto. Composed in 1960 and premiered by Sir Georg Solti and the Los Angeles Philharmonic that same year, the concerto is a delightful piece. Its first movement begins calmly, with its material that is arrestingly laid back and introspective. The ensuing development heats up though, permeated with bits of outbursts and a good deal of virtuosity. The violin writing is especially ear-catching and I admire the orchestral panache that accompanies it. The andante second movement is ear-catching also and I'm awed of how concentrated the writing is, particularly of the cadenza. The lustre in the writing remains strong throughout this movement and the finale, where I cannot find a single dull moment. The idiom of the concerto may not be contemporary or avant garde, but it's the piece that illuminates even the heaviest of moods.

Creston's Fourth Symphony (1951) is the earliest work recorded here and it's very invigorating throughout. The vitality of the piece remains strong particularly in its first movement that just springs up joyously from the start. The development keeps the spirit going and the close is as rambunctious as ever. But for me, the heart of the symphony are the middle movements. Have you ever heard such a beautiful movement as the second (andante pastorale)? There are plenty of slow movements that have such spellbindingly exquisite effects: muted strings, woodwind and horn solos, etc. that has so much of that magic, flair, and elegance (think of Bax, Vaugh Williams, Rorem, Barber, or even Myaskovsky and Lyatoshynsky). But this one must be ranked as one of the best. The distinctiveness of the movement is of abundance here and I love the playfulness in the middle section before dying down to this mystifying, sun-rising, early morning yet brightening mood this music brings forth. I only wish (as I did in reviewing Rorem's symphonies under Naxos) that Creston did more with that wonderful musical material of his. But some compensations are paid in the scherzo, which is adorably flamboyant with its strings pizzicati and some tantalizing horn writing. The ostentatious finale doesn't disappoint either, if short of eliminating some of the redundancies in the development.

Much of the spotlight goes to the David Alan Miller, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and Gregory Fulkerson as violin soloist. The orchestra's refinement may not be absolute, but the playing has plenty of spirit and commitment. Miller approaches the scores with the insightfulness and imagination that brings the works above the commonplace of early to mid modern American music; thus, demonstrating how uncommon and unique Creston music actually is, and with no over-selling and exaggeration on his part. Gregory Fulkerson brings with him the added introspection and substance in the concerto (his cadenzas are wrought and never shallow or pretentious) while the recording is vibrant in sound. With the presentation as admirable as it is here, this albums signifies Albany Records' tireless yet courageous continuation in its promotion of neglected masterworks, American and otherwise (like some of George Lloyd's masterful symphonies).

Warmly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Magnificent music 28 Feb 2012
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What magnificent music this is. Paul Creston's brand of tuneful, warmly romantic neo-classicism is instantly appealing; his music is friendly and genial, yet profound, and often instantly memorable and personal enough that it could not be mistaken for anyone else's. No, it does not attempt to shake the roots of music history or seek novel modes of expression for the sake of novelty, but it is possible to be original within traditional frameworks, and in Creston's case the most immediately recognizable elements would perhaps be his slightly unusual harmonies and his skillfull deployment of engaging and bold cross-rhythms. Furthermore the music on this disc is among Creston's most instantly appealing works; the violin concerto would deserve to share the limelight with Barber's more famous work, and the symphony is splendid.

Janus, from 1959, consists of a softly lyrical prelude and a riotous dance part, but it is all based on a single (strong) idea that Creston ingeniously develops with ever increasing tension to usher in the colorful ferocity of the final parts. The symphony is perhaps somewhat lighter than Creston's other works in the genre but full of brilliance, charm, wistfulness, color and good ideas, though it may be argued that the finale doesn't quite live up to the promise of the other movements. The opening movement is wonderful, however, full of vibrant (though as is usual with Creston, slightly tempered) energy that never really loses momentum. The slow movement is thoroughly beautiful and vividly colored, and the scherzo is riveting.

The violin concerto is overall lyrical as well, and Barber's violin concerto is not too far away as a comparison with respect to style and mood. Perhaps Barber's is the more extrovertly tuneful work, but Creston's use of rhythm and engaging developments surely compensates fully. Again the slow movement is particularly gorgeous, but the whole work is a must for any fan of twentieth century (tonal) music. The performances are good; Gregory Fulkerson provides terrific solo playing, powerful and vital, in the concerto, and although there may be somewhat more power and drive in the music than the Albany Symphony Orchestra manages to bring out under David Alan Miller these are nevertheless very good performances. Given that these are the only recordings available of these works (as far as I know) this remains an essential acquisition.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Symphony #4 Creston's Best 11 Nov 2012
By flight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Paul Creston is one among many that should be heard more often. His first Symphony has a nice 1920's style jazz to it at the end. His Symphony #4 is just quite pleasant, the most accessible of his symphonies.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
paul creston: symphony n.4- violin concerto 31 Dec 2012
By antonio olmo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
personally i think that the 4th symphony is less spontaneous and inspired than the previous ones and than the following one, whereas the violin concert reveals a full knowledge of the form and of the instrument by the composer. very good execution
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