Francisco J. Muņoz | Santa Cruz, Bolivia | 04/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Durante machismos años los amantes de la música de América, estabamos esperando que algún director grabe la hermosisima tercera Sinfonía de Peter Mennin, por fin Schwarz, nos da esta alegría, además de que el disco trae la séptima que también es una linda sinfonía. En la tercera de todas maneras me quedo con la versión en LP de Dimitri Metropoulos, ojalá que Sony la reedite. Pero por el momento GRACIAS SR: SCHWARZ!"
A 20th century American neoromantic
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 06/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have no quibble with David Hurwitz' description of this CD that, "Peter Mennin ranks with Piston, Harris and Hanson as among the finest of the American neoclassical symphonists active in the first half of this century," other than to say I think of Mennin more as a neoromantic even though he writes in a distinctly classic 20th century American idiom.
"Moby Dick", which begins the concert, is written against Melville's classic American novel of ocean-going whalers and their fight with the great white whale. The moody 11-minute tone poem (the composer called it a concerto for orchestra) captures some of the drama of the action as portrayed in the Gregory Peck film but little of its American heroism.
The Symphony No. 3, written after the war and introduced in 1947, is very much like other tonal American symphonies of the time. It reminds me most of Piston but also compares readily to Hanson and Creston.
It is constructed in sonata form with altermating allegro, andante, allegro movements and has all the benchmarks of mid-century American symphonies -- brass choirs that carry main themes, a solo flute with an ostinato theme, and rumbling timpani support. As usual for American symphonies of the period, the strings play a relatively minor supporting role.
The perhaps inopportune-named Symphony No. 7 (which is a set of variations) is a different animal. Written in 1963 on commission from the Cleveland Orchestra, here is episodic high drama that wants often to slip over the edge into serialism but never does. This 26-minute excursion swells with emotions, then slips into repose before starting again...and again. It also reflects the jazz age rhythmic drama of "West Side Story" in its bigger moments. The overall dramatics, near serial appeal, and intensity portend the darker Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9 from this composer.
Gerard Schwartz and the Seattle Symphony continue to get worldwide raves for their transmittals of American music on the Naxos label. I like their performances here but can imagine better playing almost everywhere by a better orchestra. The Delos recording can get a bit muddy but that can be modified by your electronic controls.
All in all, then, a solid effort of music by an American symphonist not often played or represented in our concert halls. With only a couple other notable recordings of his music available, this is an important CD for fans of American classics."