Howard Hanson: Organ Concerto

Howard Hanson: Organ Concerto

by Joseph Jackson
     
 

Recording hasn't been unkind to the legacy of Howard Hanson, and his own recordings as conductor of other composers' music continues to stay in print and to thrive. However, when it comes to Hanson's own work, recording has not been exceptionally generous as it has to some of his contemporaries (for example, Copland or See more details below

Overview

Recording hasn't been unkind to the legacy of Howard Hanson, and his own recordings as conductor of other composers' music continues to stay in print and to thrive. However, when it comes to Hanson's own work, recording has not been exceptionally generous as it has to some of his contemporaries (for example, Copland or George Gershwin); the vast majority of recordings devoted to Hanson concentrate on one work, his "Symphony No. 2, Romantic, Op. 30." With Naxos American Classics' Howard Hanson: Organ Concerto we finally encounter an all-Hanson collection that affords some depth to his orchestral oeuvre, and these pieces are all exceptionally fantastic offerings, to boot. This selection features Hanson's early "Concerto for Organ, Harp and Strings, Op. 22/3" (1926), his "Serenade for Flute, Harp and Strings Op. 35" (1945), the "Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth for Piano and Strings" (1951), and his "Pastorale for Oboe, Harp and Strings" (1948-1949) and the obscure "Summer Seascape No. 2 for Viola and Strings" (1965). Although scored in a concerted vein, all of these works are cast in an episodic, single-movement format, and all but the "Organ Concerto" run less than 12 minutes in length. Rather than pressing Hanson's own one-time orchestra, the Eastman-Rochester Pops Orchestra, into the service of these unfamiliar works, Naxos located a superb foil in the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra under Daniel Spalding. There is an excellent lineup of soloists involved as well, including Spalding's betrothed Gabriela Imreh in the "Fantasy Variations" and exciting young violist Adriana Linares in the "Serenade." The only multi-movement work presented is the very late Hanson composition "Nymph and Satyr Ballet Suite" (1979) that features Doris Hall-Gulati in a superb solo part for the clarinet. Hanson's music is multi-faceted and rich with resplendent beauty; the oft-repeated observation he never departed from his "unashamedly romantic idiom" limits one's perception as to how much variety there is in Hanson. There are textures in the "Nymph and Satyr Ballet Suite" that bring to mind Philip Glass, although in 1979 it's hard to say whether one was aware of what the other was doing musically. The "Organ Concerto" is the total opposite of, say, that by Poulenc, as the organ builds into the orchestral texture and matches it, rather than standing apart from it. All of the other pieces speak very eloquently for themselves and are certainly easy to listen to, even for the first time. Naxos American Classics' Howard Hanson: Organ Concerto makes clear that Hanson didn't hang onto his romantic musical vocabulary because he was a conservative -- Hanson did so as he knew what combination of his "13 herbs and spices" made the chicken taste right and didn't want anything else to spoil the recipe. Naxos' recording is warm, up-close, and the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra sounds like a bigger band than it is, which is the mark of any great chamber orchestra.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/25/2006
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943925126
catalogNumber:
8559251
Rank:
270833

Tracks

  1. Concerto for organ, harp & strings in C, Op 22/3  - Howard Hanson  - Joseph Jackson  -  Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra  - Daniel Spalding  - Jacqueline Pollauf
  2. Nymphs and Satyr, ballet  - Howard Hanson  - Doris Hall-Gulati  -  Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra  - Daniel Spalding  - Holly Blake
  3. Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth for piano & orchestra, Op 40  - Howard Hanson  - Gabriela Imreh  -  Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra  - Daniel Spalding
  4. Serenade for flute, harp & strings, Op. 35  - Howard Hanson  - Andrew Bolotowsky  -  Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra  - Daniel Spalding  - Jacqueline Pollauf
  5. Summer Seascape No. 2, for viola & strings  - Howard Hanson  -  Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra  - Daniel Spalding  - Adriana Linares
  6. Pastorale for oboe & piano (or harp & strings), Op. 38  - Howard Hanson  - Jonathan Blumenfeld  -  Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra  - Daniel Spalding  - Jacqueline Pollauf

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