Symphonies 4 & 9
- 製品サイズ : 13.41 x 14.2 x 0.99 cm; 94.12 g
- メーカー : Naxos American
- EAN : 0636943925423
- オリジナル盤発売日 : 2005
- SPARSコード : DDD
- レーベル : Naxos American
- ASIN : B0008JEKG8
- ディスク枚数 : 1
Symphonies n°4 & n°9 - Orchestra Song - Circus Overture / Orchestre Symphonique de Seattle, dir. Gerard Schwarz
This is the opening salvo of Naxos's planned series of William Schuman's ten symphonies, central to a career in which the brassy energy of his music made him a leading figure in American music for over three decades. The Fourth Symphony, premiered some six weeks after Pearl Harbor, is an optimistic piece with a slow movement both warm and sad and outer movements capped by dense textures and blazing brass. The Ninth is subtitled "The Ardeatine Caves," reflects the composer's thoughts on a visit to that site of a Nazi World War II atrocity. It's a much tougher piece than the Fourth, the three continuous movements encapsulating a cascade of fast-changing ideas and brass and percussion-laden climaxes. Two brief works separate the symphonies: the catchy folk-based Orchestral Song, and the brightly energetic Circus Overture, originally intended for a Broadway revue. Schwarz and his orchestra deliver stylishly apt performances of all these works, making one look forward to the rest of the series. -- Dan Davis
The ninth is the third symphony in what Schuman considers a stylistic trilogy, the seventh, eight, and ninth. (The third through fifth could also be considered another stylistic trilogy, with the sixth as an intermezzo between the two sets.) Most Schuman fans should own the Bernstein recordings of the third, fifth, and eighth. Those new to Schuman with this particular recording are often turned off by the eighth in favor of the third. And rightly so. The eighth is perhaps the roughest and most dissonant of even the later trilogy of symphonies.
The ninth emerges as a bit more restrained, recalling ideas prevalent in the sixth. Schuman was inspired to write the work after visiting the scene of a WWII Jewish massacre in Italy. The beginning starts calmly. It slowly builds by supporting the crooning, drawn out lines of the strings and brass with a familiar chirping of the winds present in previous symphonies, sounding something like Messiaen's bird piece from Illuminations of the Beyond. After building, the rest of the first movement holds to the strict style prevalent in the trilogy, as it also goes with the second movement. The third movement starts out similar to the first, but this time with the percussion taking the lead. The winds eventually take over with a more restrained "bird" song while the strings continue to support. The third movement is surprisingly listenable, even to the Schuman enthusiast who can't seem to enjoy the repertoire beyond the fifth. The movement is almost completely slow and soft, as if walking through the mass grave of many long-since slaughtered.
Schuman fans should have at least one of the two already available recordings of the fourth. Schwartz's interpretation is decent, but nothing which exalts itself above or falls far below the other recordings. For those not familiar with the work, it is like the third, but perhaps not as grand. He borrows ideas from the third, but isn't able to take them to the same extreme and climax as he did in the third. (The fifth, the string symphony, falls even shorter of the third than the forth. It is almost exactly like the third, only without the other three instrument sections, which makes the work absent and void.)
The smaller two pieces on this CD were a nice surprise. Either work would be a nice concert opener. The Orchestra Song, only three minutes long, is the tamest of all his compositions I've ever heard. It has several themes that are built on top of one another as the piece progresses, with slight variations. This work, oddly enough, reminds me more of a circus than his Circus Overture. The Circus Overture is about eight minutes long, a charming work, but nothing of deep substance.
The back of the CD says that this is the first release of an eventual "complete" symphony cycle of William Schuman. I'm hoping that this also includes the first and second, though Schuman never intended for these two early symphonies to be performed again. One must wonder what he will find there; justly discarded pieces, the building blocks to his style in the famous third, or a complete other stylistic approach?
Typical of Naxos, the recording quality is excellent. Schwartz, who once produced a number of American recordings by Diamond, Hanson, Hovhaness, and others on the Delos label, is to be lauded for his continuing work in American music. His efforts are to be commended. Now if only some of America's other top orchestras and conductors would be as zealous about their own country's musical output.