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Gould & Harris / David A. Miller, Albany Symphony Orchestra

Release Date: 08/27/2002 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 515   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Morton GouldRoy Harris
Conductor:  David Alan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Albany Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


This disc throws fascinating light on the relationship of composers to their own works, and the wisdom of the decisions they made regarding them. Roy Harris more or less disowned his Second Symphony (1934), and with good reason. Though the central slow movement's coolly gliding string counterpoint is lovely, the outer movements display a sort of inexpressive, generic "Americanism" that's about as eventful as a Nebraska cornfield. It's pointless to pretend that there's anything of lasting value here, though I applaud the enterprise of conductor David Alan Miller in allowing us to listen and judge for ourselves; and there are certainly no complaints about the performance as such. It's just fine artistry
Read more in the service of a lost cause.

The issue with Morton Gould's Third Symphony (1947), his major symphonic statement and a genuine masterpiece, is somewhat more complicated. Gould revised the work and replaced its finale at the suggestion of Dimitri Mitropoulos. Since no recording of that revision, which failed anyway, is currently available, we can't compare it to the original version before us. However, it's hard to imagine what Mitropoulos found problematic: the finale works perfectly with what has come before, and isn't one of those noisy, facile, obligatory "happy endings" endemic to both the Socialist Realist and American nationalist schools. It has true symphonic weight and an impressive gravity of utterance, with the happy ending something of a surprise rather than a foregone conclusion.

In fact, what we have here is the prototype for the kind of symphonic writing that Malcolm Arnold achieved so successfully just a few years later, a pungent mixture of tunefulness, acrid dissonance, disturbing bleakness (in the slow movement), and catchy popular music idioms (in the spectacular scherzo), all encapsulated in a broadly tonal idiom that never takes the ear exactly where it expects to go. As with Arnold, whose music also was frequently dismissed in "serious" music circles and only recently has received the respect that it deserves, Gould's work certainly merits reappraisal. Of course all along Arnold had the advantage of a cultural climate far more welcoming and supportive of local talent than ever has been typical of the U.S., but there are signs that this sorry situation is finally changing. In any case, this excellently played and recorded disc, brimming with energy and enthusiasm, makes an excellent place to start. Forget about the Harris, and go for the Gould. [9/21/2002]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony no 3 by Morton Gould
Conductor:  David Alan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Albany Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947/1948; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/15/2000 
Venue:  Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY 
Length: 40 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Symphony no 2 by Roy Harris
Conductor:  David Alan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Albany Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/21/2000 
Venue:  Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY 
Length: 20 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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