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American Classics - Schuman: Symphonies No 7 & 10 / Schwarz

Release Date: 10/18/2005 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559255   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William Schuman
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

During his time William Schuman (1910?1992) was a notable part of American musical life, as a teacher, administrator, and composer. His legacy of musical compositions is significant and distinctive, and this release couples two striking examples of his art.

Symphony No. 7, premiered by Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony in 1960, is in four movements played continuously, beginning with a pregnant, sinewy, and dark, slow movement that is succeeded by a brief Scherzo that is typically pugnacious and characteristically scored, not least in the percussion. The slow mood returns for a radiant Read more style="font-style:italic">Cantabile intensamente that grows in emotion, and the symphony concludes with a propulsive finale that begins skittishly (reminding us of Copland and developing an exuberance that suggests Leonard Bernstein) and ends in thrilling clamor. Whether this lively movement is quite the expected corollary to what has gone before is a moot point, although there is no doubting the sheer quality of the music, and the uplift of the final measures.

Symphony No. 10, ?American Muse,? was first heard in Washington, DC, in 1976, Antal Dorati conducting the National Symphony Orchestra. Leonard Slatkin and the Chicago Symphony then took it up, and Slatkin recorded American Muse , dedicated ?to the country?s creative artists, past, present and future,? and other works of Schuman, for RCA with the Saint Louis Symphony in either 1991 or 1992 (RCA?s booklet doesn?t specify what was recorded when). It?s a great piece, the last of Schuman?s 10 symphonies (the first two were withdrawn by the composer), a vindication of writing real symphonic music, and begins with a sustained, brass dominated Con fuoco that is a virtuoso display of considerable import; a tidal wave of communication. The lengthy Larghissimo that follows is hauntingly beautiful, very personal, even private, but it steals to the listener?s heart, and the finale, having begun in exploratory fashion, is an optimistic summation.

Both Slatkin and Gerard Schwarz are deeply sympathetic conductors of Schuman?s music, but I imagine Slatkin?s version of ?American Muse? is now deleted. Schwarz?s leading of both symphonies is excellent; so, too, the sound quality; and the music is superb. With Schuman 4 and 9 already released from Seattle, one hopes the other four symphonies will follow. Very important.

FANFARE: Colin Anderson
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 7 by William Schuman
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/2003 
Venue:  Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington 
Length: 28 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Symphony no 10 "American Muse" by William Schuman
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington 
Length: 31 Minutes 51 Secs. 

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