Masterpieces from america's finest composer
Ryan Morris | Chicago, IL | 10/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Howard Hanson. Every work builds you into a dreamlike soundworld both beautiful and emotional. For instance, the third movement of his Symphony 3 is the amercian equivalent of the slow movement from Mahlers 6. He has that thematic talent that the greats do, creating motifs you will be hard up to get out of your head. Much of his music is accessible even the first time you hear it and unlike much american music repays repeated listening.
His symphony's are mostly brilliant and really are the finest america has to offer. 1 is very good. 2,3, and 4 and 5 are definite masterpieces, while his 7 is not my cup of tea(based on the same text as VWilliams 1(behold, the unboundless Sea!!!)
His musical voice is very recognizable-his smaller pieces are just as fine, if not often better. He is always aware of the sounds he is creating and pair that with his unparalleled ability to turn a phrase and you have the finest american composer in our history. He deserves much more recognition than he has been given. Hopefully someone will buy this and appreciate the man. If you want a place to start, listen to his 3 symphony. Or his pastorale, or really anything. YOU WONT BE DISAPPOINTED>"
Spirited performances of engaging music
G.D. | Norway | 09/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This second double-volume of orchestral works by Howard Hanson performed by the Seattle Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz is no less engaging overall than its predecessor (although it is the previous volume that contains his ultimate masterpiece, the second symphony). The performances are generally very good, although perhaps lacking the last touch of finesse (the Seattle strings are marvelous, however), and they are generally well-judged and shaped.
The first symphony is very Sibelian (and the one that most resembles the second in style), but a very memorable work of many excellent ideas and inventive touches, which flow together seamlessly. Ambient, colorful, somewhat craggily Nordic, but painted with a broad brush and full of lyric nostalgia, I'd also say that it Hanson's second best work in the genre - and at least the second most immediately attractive. But the third has much of the same atmosphere - again, the music is inventive and very distinctly Hanson with imaginative and personal harmonic progressions and developments, but it isn't as strikingly memorable. Neither is the fifth, Sinfonia sacra, consisting of six section with no more than 15 minutes of total duration - it is variegated and inventive, but does perhaps lack that ultimately memorable melodic profile.
The piano concerto is delightfully contrasted between engagingly energetic parts and wistfully lyrical material. Again, the material is economically used - the work is in four movements taking no more than 23 minutes. The suite from the opera `merry Mount' is enjoyable and light-hearted but slight (though finely scored with much color). The elegiac Lament of Beowulf (with chorus) has a hauntingly powerful opening - the mood is sustained throughout, but here - as opposed to in the fifth symphony or piano concerto - I think Hanson goes on longer than the material, or rather the powerful impact of the opening, can sustain.
Again, I have few qualms about the performances (although there is a certain lack of tonal weight and brilliance in the orchestra sometimes) - the chorus is powerful in Beowulf, and Carol Rosenberger a compelling soloist in the piano concerto. Sound quality is good, and this set is well worth seeking out for those who are interested in engaging music with a personal voice steeped in the post-romantic tradition from Sibelius and Vaughan Williams."