These are mid-fifties mono recordings by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Don't be put off by the mono sound on this disc. It's fantastic. More than that, the Harris and the Schuman symphonies get bang-up p... more »erformances. Actually, the Harris Symphony 7, so rarely recorded (or performed) at all, comes across as being perfectly suited to a mono recording. It's too bad that Ormandy didn't return to these works in full stereo. But the digital mastering job by Debra Parkinson is absolutely astonishing. These post-war symphonies are among the best American works of their kind. --Paul Cook« less
These are mid-fifties mono recordings by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Don't be put off by the mono sound on this disc. It's fantastic. More than that, the Harris and the Schuman symphonies get bang-up performances. Actually, the Harris Symphony 7, so rarely recorded (or performed) at all, comes across as being perfectly suited to a mono recording. It's too bad that Ormandy didn't return to these works in full stereo. But the digital mastering job by Debra Parkinson is absolutely astonishing. These post-war symphonies are among the best American works of their kind. --Paul Cook
The American Symphony at Mid Century
Avrohom Leichtling | Monsey, NY | 04/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here we have three absolutely representative American symphonies that were written within a few years of each other- the Schuman 6th, in 1949, the Piston 4th, in 1950 and the Harris 7th in 1955. While the Piston is also available in a digital-stereo recording conducted by Gerard Schwarz, neither the Schuman nor the Harris have ever been heard on discs other than in their Philadelphia outings. Both the Schuman and the Piston have Antal Dorati in common as the commissioner. With the 6th Symphony, Schuman's music began turning inwards - and the extrovert works of the 1940s became transformed into the dark, brooding, dramatic essays of the remaining 35 years of his career. In one long movement, it favors Schuman's variation procedures (a sort of gigantic passacaglia) framed in what could be called the George Washington Bridge structure. Two enormous dramatic peaks preceded and followed by relative surface calm - and separated by an extended, if largely pianissimo, development. The Piston symphony is pure New England neoclassic delight (even though it was written for the Minneapolis Symphony). It is a 'typical' (in a positive sense) a work as one will encounter with this composer. Harris' 7th, written for Ormandy, is also a feast for the ears. Structurally similar to the 3rd, the work progresses from a simple harmonic statement through a serious of open ended variations to its ecstatic conclusion. Harris used to refer to this as his 'Dance Symphony.' The last third of the work is dominated by the irregular 11/8 meter: and Ormandy somehow manages to turn into 12/8 (listen carefully, now).It's a delightful collection, nonetheless, even if our conductor could not handle the number eleven."
A performance for the ages
Robert J. Cruce | Muskogee, OK United States | 09/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As fine as the other two symphonies on this are, the Harris 7th is the performance worth buying this disc for. Certainly a work of longing with overtones of death, but with a vision that truly does delve into the dark night of the American soul. Ormandy and the Philadelphians gave the composer the performance he wanted, even playing mezzo-forte in the winds throughout as the composer directed (he thought winds sounded mushy pianissimo). The artistic excellence of this performance cannot be bettered. There is little competition for the title "great American symphony" after hearing this (but don't miss Schuman's third in Bernstein's early 60's performance)."
Great American Symphonies - too seldom performed
D. C. Cannon | Rockville, MD USA | 04/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here are great works by three fine American composers that usually get overlooked - Harris and Schuman overshadowed by their third symphonies and Piston just too rarely performed (period). These are still great works. The Piston is all serene and well mannered, with a surpisingly lyrical and easy going first movement. The Harris is another of his one movement works that starts out as a grim passacaglia and then opens up into a light and dancing finale. The Schuman is probably the darkest and less readily accessible work on the CD but give it a few listens. It has its rhythmic and melodic charms beneath its rather gaunt exterior.The sound is mono but very good mono. Plus there are few recordings (if any) of these pieces, and they are too good to pass up, especially when all collected together as they are here."
Vuong | Paris, France | 01/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nothing to add to these praises. I would like to mention that, after years of waiting, I have been able to download this album at a ridiculous small price on a well-known legal site."