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Rouse: Symphony no 1, Phantasmata / Zinman, Baltimore SO


Release Date: 05/27/1992 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 79230   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Christopher Rouse
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 47 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Christopher Rouse (b. 1949) is a self-proclaimed romantic, whose music has been associated with the term “New Romanticism,“ itself an attempt to capture the flavor of American composers rebelling against the serialism to which they were forced to adhere by their teachers in the 50s and 60s. Too young to have been so badly afflicted (George Rochberg made the loudest turnabout), Rouse is also almost too fluent a talent for it: in his hands neo-romanticism has sometimes sounded like a superficial sell-out to the tastes of conservative symphony audiences. The Infernal Machine was one such piece: its many performances and wide appeal also soured the skeptics—to which I admit membership. As a brash, twittering overture to a concert (or to the LP Read more by Siatkin and the St. Louis Symphony) it seemed merest fluff. Here it appears as the middle section of Phantasmata; given support on both ends, it makes a busy, jolly scherzo. Part I, The Evestrum of Juan de la Cruz in the Sagrada Famiglia at 3 a.m., is quiet mysterious night music, not particularly Spanish. A dancing finale, Bump, also written as a separate piece, goes on pounding drums far past the threshold of annoyance.

But now comes the symphony. Rouse insists—in program notes set down as an unlikely interview—that those who see his symphony as weightier stuff than his earlier output must have simply missed the boat before. He explains that he had been working on fast, aggressive music for some time and wanted to try an extreme opposite, “to see if I really could write an extended adagio.“ Well, he certainly can, and this is a new Rouse. Perhaps he will forgive my insistence when I say that I am bowled over by his symphony, which carries a dark sincerity unthinkable from the few earlier pieces I knew. It offers no program, nor does it need one; to paraphrase Toscanini, it is neither Dante nor the Inferno, it is just twenty-seven minutes of adagio. The symphony does follow some current fashions: quotations, obvious and hidden, which pay homage to past composers, and an emphasis on extreme dynamic levels; it is also generally Shostakovichian. None of this is to its disadvantage. This 1986 composition stems from a commission by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Rouse has been their composer-in-residence since that date. He is fortunate to have David Zinman (my candidate for most under-appreciated conductor) at the helm, and to have Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall as the 1988 recording venue: this is a staggering performance and recording. I don't believe I have ever done such an abrupt about-face toward any composer; my awed apologies to Christopher Rouse, and Bravo!

-- James H. North, FANFARE [1/1990] Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 by Christopher Rouse
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; USA 
2.
Phantasmata by Christopher Rouse
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 

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