William Schuman: The Symphonies

William Schuman: The Symphonies

by Gerard Schwarz, Seattle Symphony Orchestra
     
 

A principal contender for the title of the "Great American Symphony," William Schuman's Third Symphony conveys a bold and original spirit. Whether or not it's essentially "American," it is indisputably "Great," with a unique approach that convincingly builds Baroque forms (passacaglia, fugue, chorale, and toccata) into a dramatically unified symphonic logic. On record… See more details below

Overview

A principal contender for the title of the "Great American Symphony," William Schuman's Third Symphony conveys a bold and original spirit. Whether or not it's essentially "American," it is indisputably "Great," with a unique approach that convincingly builds Baroque forms (passacaglia, fugue, chorale, and toccata) into a dramatically unified symphonic logic. On record, the Schuman Third has long been the property of Leonard Bernstein; his two recordings of the work contributed much to making it the best known of Schuman's ten symphonies. Gerard Schwarz's new version, however, comes in the third volume of much-needed survey of the complete Schuman symphonies, and it's a more than viable alternative to Bernstein. If anything, the Seattle Symphony succeeds even better than its predecessors in fitting Schuman's jagged, interlocking lines together into a whole, and the music's brassy climaxes are as sonorous as they need to be (even if the snare drum's rim shots in the finale sound curiously underpowered). While the Third has been newly recorded for Schwarz's Schuman series, the other works on this disc have been recycled from an early-1990s release on Delos by the same conductor and orchestra. (At that time, they were part of a valuable American music series, similar to Naxos's current American Classics project but much smaller in scope.) The Symphony for Strings (Schuman's Fifth) and the ballet score Judith (composed for Martha Graham's choreography) are both among the composer's most significant and absorbing works, each combining vital energy and grave solemnity into a compelling whole. Schuman's public roles as president of the Juilliard School and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts may have conspired to overshadow his creative work in later years, but each of these Naxos releases from Seattle is a reminder of this major American artist's true originality.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
These recordings of William Schuman's "Seventh" and "Tenth" symphonies by Gerard Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony are neither the works' first recordings nor, perhaps, their best recordings, but they are still absolutely worthy recordings that deserve to be heard by anyone who loves American symphonic music of the twentieth century. The "Seventh" has been recorded before by Lorin Maazel with the Pittsburgh and Maurice Abravanel with the Utah Symphony, but Schwarz's sympathetic interpretation and the Seattle's dedicated professionalism make as good or better a case for the piece as either of them. The "Tenth" has been recorded before by Leonard Slatkin with the St. Louis in a performance of tremendous depth and power and if Schwarz and the Seattle don't quite match them for power, the lyrical intensity of their performance easily puts them in the same league. As for sound, while Maazel's "Seventh" is a little too distant, Abravanel's is way too distant, and Slatkin's is nearly ideal, Schwarz's is not quite as distant as Maazel's, but not as balanced as Slatkin's.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/27/2010
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313522835
catalogNumber:
8505228
Rank:
154833

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 4  - William Schuman  - Vance Kirkland  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  2. The Orchestra Song, for orchestra  - William Schuman  - Vance Kirkland  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  3. Circus Overture, for orchestra (also version for concert band arr. by D. Owen)  - William Schuman  - Vance Kirkland  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  4. Symphony No. 9  - William Schuman  - Vance Kirkland  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  5. Symphony No. 7  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Moran
  6. Symphony No. 10 -- American Muse  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Moran
  7. Symphony No. 3  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Moran
  8. Symphony No. 5 ("Symphony for Strings")  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Moran
  9. Judith, ballet ("choreographic poem")  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Moran
  10. New England Triptych, 3 pieces for orchestra or band  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Philion
  11. A Prayer in Time of War, for orchestra  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Philion
  12. Symphony No. 6  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Thomas Philion
  13. Variations on "America", arrangement for orchestra or band (after Charles Ives)  - William Schuman  - Charles Ives  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  14. Night Journey, ballet  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  15. Symphony No. 8  - William Schuman  - Gerard Schwarz  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra

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