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Hanson: Symphonies Nos.1 & 2 Hybrid SACD

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. 1. Andante solenne - Allegro con forza
  2. 2. Andante teneramente, con semplicita
  3. 3. Allegro con fuoco
  4. 1. Adagio - Allegro moderato
  5. 2. Andante con tenerezza
  6. 3. Allegro con brio
  7. Song of Democracy - Eastman Rochester School Of Music Chorus, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, Howard Hanson
  8. 1. Andante solenne - Allegro con forza
  9. 2. Andante teneramente, con semplicita
  10. 3. Allegro con fuoco
  11. 1. Adagio - Allegro moderato
  12. 2. Andante con tenerezza
  13. 3. Allegro con brio
  14. Song of Democracy - Eastman Rochester School Of Music Chorus, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, Howard Hanson
  15. 1. Andante solenne - Allegro con forza
  16. 2. Andante teneramente, con semplicita
  17. 3. Allegro con fuoco
  18. 1. Adagio - Allegro moderato
  19. 2. Andante con tenerezza
  20. 3. Allegro con brio
  21. Song of Democracy - Eastman Rochester School Of Music Chorus, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, Howard Hanson

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x933864b0) out of 5 stars 1 review
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x933879d8) out of 5 stars Magnificent return of an American music icon 10 May 2006
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on
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Perhaps I am not sophisticaed enough to understand the Copland Symphony No. 3 or Ives Symphony No. 2 are the best American symphonies, for I have always believed this opus, the "Romantic" symphony of Howard Hason, is the greatest American symphony.

Written about 1930 on commission for the Boston Symphony and Kouzzevitsky, Hanson's "Romantic" symphony contains all the elements that make it American -- tonality, rising quarters and halves for brass, appealing melodies, great sweep in its most emotional pages, and a blazing triumphant ending. The magnificent romantic theme that permeates the symphony is unforgettable and one of the landmark melodies of American symphonism, in my view.

While there have been a number of other very good recordings of this work since Hanson first recorded it in 1958 -- principally by Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony, Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony, and a recent entry by the Cincinnati Pops under Eric Kunzel -- there can now be no question about the authenticity of the composer's performance and the copycat style of all that have come since. While Statkin's performance and playing are sumptuous, this now must be the preferred recording of this music and the one considered the most authoritative.

The 2004 reissue, a hybrid SACD in three channel stereo from the original 1958 tapes, magnificently portrays the brass section of the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, the section that carries the thematic material. While other critics have noted the thin string tone of the group is even more pronounced in the SACD, I found that did nothing to inhibit my enjoyment of this recording, which is like rediscovering a lost friend after a 30-year hiatus. In fact, it is more like disovering a lost lover.

Hanson's original program is reproduced in SACD sound including his Symphony No. 1 subtitled "Nordic" and his 12-plus choral minute paean to text by Walt Whitman, "Song of Democracy." The latter reminds me of something Shostakovich may have written for stalin or in a patriotic film score. It is earnest, earthy, all American and tuneful and could easily substitute as a choral final movement for the "Romantic" symphony if an enterprising conductor would place it there in concert.

The "Nordic" symphony is written in a style akin to the "Romantic" symphony. In my opinion this music is very much like his Symphony No. 2 with different thematic material. The ending seems more icily Scandanavian but the rest could be American film music. It is neither as memorable nor as enveloping as its more famous counterpart. It nevertheless contains all the warmth and humanity you expect from this composer.

This CD represents a magnificent return to circulation of a great American original, a romantic symphony composed during the height of 20th century anti-romanticism in classal music. The new three-channel recording is a sizable upgrade from the older 2 by 2 recording and creates an aura of completion and depth the previous early stereo issue lacked. This becomes one of my top 10 CDs and certainly my favorite piece of American music.
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