Notes and Editorial Reviews
George Rochberg's First Symphony (1949) is a big, gritty orchestral extravaganza in five movements that lasts a bit more than an hour. Not quite atonal, it contrasts a high level of dissonance with affecting melody and traditional harmony, combining thrilling outbursts of orchestral mayhem with long passages of disquieting stillness. With movement titles like "Exultant!!", "Fast and Impetuous; like a curtain-raiser", and "Night Music", it's very much young man's music, and it clearly reveals a composer with tremendous talent and an overwhelming urge to self-expression. If I had to compare the style to any other composer, it reminds me a bit of Sessions' suite from The Black Maskers, only with richer string
It also sounds ferociously difficult to play, particularly for the brass, which are called on to execute rhythmically complex gestures both individually and as a section. The Saarbrücken players are amazingly game, and largely successful, though I could imagine a hair more precision at a few points in the first and third movements. It's all very impressively held together by Christopher Lyndon-Gee in what is effectively the symphony's premiere performance in its complete original form and most recent (2003) revision. Brilliant sonics convey Rochberg's vivid scoring with tactile immediacy. If any neglected American symphony deserves to enter the repertoire, this one does--aside from Rochberg's other works in the form, of course.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 by George Rochberg
Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 01/2004
Venue: Halberg Radio, Saarbrücken, Germany
Length: 59 Minutes 14 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: USA (1948 - 1957).
Composition revised: USA (1971 - 1977).
Symphony No. 1: I. Allegro molto, ma un poco pesante: Exultant!!
Symphony No. 1: II. Night Music: Poco adagio, like a slow march
Symphony No. 1: III. Capriccio: Fast and impetuous, like a curtain-raiser
Symphony No. 1: IV. Variations: Molto adagio, very slow and stately
Symphony No. 1: V. Finale: Adagio, parlando e rubato - Allegro gioioso
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