- Judith, ballet ("choreographic poem")
- Symphony No. 5 ("Symphony for Strings")
- Symphony No. 3
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.