Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Albany already has an excellent recording of Don Gillis' Symphony No. 10, subtitled "The Big D" (Dallas, that is). It's a delicious, largely humorous work very much in the spirit of the sort-of-famous Symphony No. 5 1/2, particularly in its tipsy third movement ("Conventioneer"). The previous performance, with the Albany Symphony, is very good, and so is this one. In fact, this latest Gillis release generally features sonics that are a bit sharper and dryer than previously, which perfectly suits this rhythmic, jazzy music. Tulsa: A Symphonic Portrait in Oil might be thought of as a sort of mid-Western 1812 Overture, at
least to the extent that Gillis includes a fusillade of six-shooters (here replaced, as so often in the Tchaikovsky as well, by additional percussion). It's a typically ebullient essay in a populist style that, because of its genuineness of feeling, no one did better.
Gillis' first three symphonies were all written by the time he was 30, and all reflect a spirit of optimism in troubled times (at or around the start of World War II). The title "A Symphony for Free Men" suggests some sort of patriotic potboiler, but in fact the music is predominantly reflective, with only occasional flashy outbursts. The entire work is based on a short, wandering motive in the bass that sounds strikingly similar to late Shostakovich (the third movement of Babi Yar, for example). Of course, the treatment is entirely different. It's much less gloomy for one thing, but the problem here is that Gillis repeats this bit of non-theme endlessly throughout the work, leaving the listener crying for the real, long-breathed melody that the style seems to promise but never quite delivers. This makes the symphony a bit of a let-down compared to Gillis' other pieces, but it's one of those works that you feel he had to write, if only to gain more experience in working with large forms. In any case, it's extremely sympathetically played by Ian Hobson and Sinfonia Varsovia. So if you're collecting this wonderful and very important series, give it a shot and see what you think.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Symphony X "The Big D" by Don Gillis
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1967; USA
Tulsa: A Symphonic Portrait in Oil by Don Gillis
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1950; USA
Symphony no 3 "A Symphony of Free Men" by Don Gillis
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1942; USA
Symphony No. 10, "Big D": I. All-American City: Fast - with energy and drive
Symphony No. 10, "Big D": II. Requiem for a Hero: Slowly
Symphony No. 10, "Big D": III. Conventioneer: Tempo di valse
Symphony No. 10, "Big D": IV. Cotton Bowl: Quickly - energetically
Tulsa: a Symphonic Portrait in Oil
Symphony No. 3, "A Symphony for Free Men": I. Very slowly; moderato; fast
Symphony No. 3, "A Symphony for Free Men": II. Slowly
Symphony No. 3, "A Symphony for Free Men": III. Quite fast; slowly - plaintively; fast
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Wonderfully Original American Musical Portraits October 21, 2012
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"Anyone naive enough to think classical music is stodgy, out of touch, and obsolete should try this disk. If this one doesn't change such a person's opinion, probably nothing will. Don Gillis' uniquely American compositions are an absolute delight, and this outstanding hybrid SACD is solid evidence. Three works are presented here in superior sound by the Sinfonia Varsovia (Polish Chamber Orchestra). Symphony 'X' (a tribute to Dallas, Texas) and Tulsa- A Symphonic Portrait in Oil are short, rousing, and thoroughly enjoyable pieces. Symphony # 3- A Symphony for Free Men, written in 1942, is a longer and more serious work (37-38 minutes), and it can be interpreted as Gillis' musical interpretation of the United States' entry into World War 2 (as I see it). I truly think this disk is a spectacular introduction to the music of an American original. Albany Records is providing American classical music fans a great service by releasing a number of disks of Gillis' works. Do try this one; I believe you will be very pleased. Highly recommended."