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American Classics - Rorem: Three Symphonies / Serebrier

Release Date: 08/19/2003 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559149   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ned Rorem
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This stuff is simply gorgeous. Ned Rorem's symphonies are shot through with long, lyrical melodies that some observers might relate to his gifts as a songwriter, but strike me as more likely inspired by the "Sunrise" sequence from Ravel's Daphnis et Chloë--music so strikingly lovely that the beauty it describes can only exist in the world of fantasy and make-believe. The First Symphony ends with such a melody, and the long first movement of the Second features another about halfway through, and then can't seem to let go of it (which is lucky for us!). This latter work has quite an interesting form: a very long first movement followed by two very short ones--exactly the same as
Read more Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony, though Rorem's second movement is slow while Shostakovich's is quick. Still, there are so few examples of this odd but effective structure in the symphonic literature that the comparison springs immediately to mind.

Ever since I had the opportunity to hear Rorem's Third Symphony in its 1959 premiere under Leonard Bernstein (in the New York Philharmonic's American music collection) I have been convinced that it should be considered one of the great American symphonies. While the first two symphonies here receive their recorded premieres, comparisons between Bernstein and Serebrier are inevitable (Abravanel also recorded the symphony, and a kind reader informs me that it's currently available on Vox. I'm ashamed to say that I have not heard it, but certainly will very shortly). Briefly put, Bernstein takes a little more time over the Andante fourth movement than does Serebrier, and a bit less over the quick second and fifth movements. The differences aren't large, but Bernstein's rendition might be said to emphasize the music's "American" extrovert qualities while Serebrier (no less rhythmically acute) reveals a bit more of Rorem's "French" side--his elegance and richly polished musical surfaces. God knows the music thrives under both conductors, as it could and should under many others.

Given the fact that all three works were recorded in a mere two days, the quality of the results that Serebrier gets is pretty amazing and stands as a tribute to the professionalism of the Bournemouth Symphony. The orchestra's playing offers both grace and power where necessary, and the ensemble sounds completely at home in the idiom. It may be that Serebrier doesn't push quite as hard as he could in some of the more boisterous moments, but given the importance of the music and the general level of quality (and absolutely first-class sonics), it would be a crime to deny this extraordinary release anything less than the highest possible recommendation. As a birthday gift to the composer in this, his 80th year, I can't imagine a finer gift, and I hope that he gets as much pleasure from it as he has given me--and will give to you as well. [8/16/2003]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 by Ned Rorem
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Symphony no 2 by Ned Rorem
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Symphony no 3 by Ned Rorem
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; USA 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Beautiful Modern Music July 3, 2018 By Joseph F. (Stamford, CT) See All My Reviews "I have to say, I don't pull out Rorem's "Three Symphonies" very often, but I did so this evening, and I want to kick myself for not immersing myself in this music more often. It is wonderful. Yes, as another reviewer said, the peaceful parts are the best, but all of it is great. I kept wishing, though, that Rorem had written a lot of chamber music. I bet his quartets and quintets would have been tremendous. Obviously, the form did not interest him. Too bad." Report Abuse
 Rorem Symphonies October 17, 2012 By J. Howard (Walnut Creek, CA) See All My Reviews "I like most of the music found in this album particularly the more peaceful parts. It does become somewhat loud boisterous at times that is why I could only give 4 stars" Report Abuse
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