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Don Gillis: Symphonies No 1, 2 & 5 1/2 / Ian Hobson, Et Al


Release Date: 11/21/2006 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 888   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Don Gillis
Conductor:  Ian Hobson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you're looking for music that offers the style of, say, Gershwin, but in larger forms, then Don Gillis is your guy. His first two symphonies, both in three movements and lasting a bit more than 30 minutes apiece, are bold, tuneful works saturated with the melodies, rhythms, and harmonies of American popular song of the 1930s and '40s. They are wonderfully enjoyable; Gillis stands in the same relationship to American music as, say, Vaughan Williams does to English. You may find his style a little too easy, or too lacking in traditional symphonic development, but there's no denying the fact that he's comfortable in his own shoes and solidly grounded in his own time and place. And that, of course, as with Vaughan Williams, is the source of Read more his distinctiveness, and hopefully is the most important factor contributing to his music's long-term prospects.


Symphony No. 5 1/2 for years was the only work by Gillis that kept his name alive. I have to confess I'm a bit puzzled by its inclusion here. Gillis himself recorded it in England, superbly, and that version is available from Dutton. Albany made a more modern recording with its eponymous orchestra that was just about as good, and on the whole superior to this newcomer. Ian Hobson's interpretation, as with most of the performances in this series, is certainly stylish and well played, but the warm and soft-grained orchestral style, arguably suitable to the two larger works with their long-breathed lyricism and wealth of beautiful string music, doesn't suit a work that begs for a dry, crisp, snappy delivery. The brass in particular need more brashness, and the tempos could press forward more relentlessly in the quick movements. Still, with 78-plus minutes of music and with generally fine sonics, this disc earns an easy recommendation for the first two symphonies, both of which are premiere recordings.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 5 and a 1/2 "A Symphony for Fun" by Don Gillis
Conductor:  Ian Hobson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
2. Symphony no 1 "An American Symphony" by Don Gillis
Conductor:  Ian Hobson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USA 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
3. Symphony no 2 "A Symphony of Faith" by Don Gillis
Conductor:  Ian Hobson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1, "An American Symphony": I. Slowly; briskly - brightly
Symphony No. 1, "An American Symphony": II. Slowly - tenderly
Symphony No. 1, "An American Symphony": III. Finale: Vivace
Symphony No. 2, "A Symphony of Faith": I. Slowly; brightly
Symphony No. 2, "A Symphony of Faith": II. Quite slowly; moderately fast
Symphony No. 2, "A Symphony of Faith": III. Quite fast - in a gay manner
Symphony No. 5 1/2, "A Symphony for Fun": I. Perpetual Emotion: Quite fast, in a gay manner
Symphony No. 5 1/2, "A Symphony for Fun": II. Spiritual?: Slowly
Symphony No. 5 1/2, "A Symphony for Fun": III. Scherzofrenia: Briskly, in a gay manner
Symphony No. 5 1/2, "A Symphony for Fun": IV. Conclusion!: Quite fast

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