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Symphonies 1 & 2

6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 21, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Championed by distinguished conductors such as Marin Alsop and Mariss Jansons, since his mid-20s, Michael Hersch's music has been performed by leading orchestras and concert artists. Winner of the prestigious Berlin Prize and the Rome Prize for compositio


"(Hersch) has made several recordings as a pianist, and a solo disc devoted to his keyboard and chamber music came out of Germany. Now, Naxos gives us a full-scale introduction to his orchestral music, and it's impressive. In contrast to the minimalism that has occupied so much of the classical landscape during the last 30 years, and in contrast to neo-romantics, Mr. Hersch comes off as an unapologetic modernist. His pieces don't really sound much like the Second Viennese School (Berg, Schoenberg), but they're not afraid of dissonance. They're not really reminiscent of the big American symphonies of the middle 20th century, either. They feel less nationalist than William Schuman's, less esoteric than Roger Sessions'. But they share those composers' sense of scale and drama. The younger composer loves big gestures played off against solo laments. He favors the orchestra's lowest voices: tuba, cello and double bass, big bass drum. Notice the chimes that ring in the Symphony No.1. They immediately announce that something epic is happening. ... this music rewards repeated listening. The performances by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop are all you could wish for." -- The Dallas Morning News

For many young composers, early works tend to project a youthful sense of innocence and discovery. Composer Michael Hersch, however, seems to have entered adulthood painfully aware of the darker ways of the world - heard in this first disc of his orchestral works in no uncertain terms. Though frequently characterized as a descendant of Mahler and Berg, Hersch's music is more aptly compared to the sinister sound collages of Alfred Schnittke. But even with the distinctly American vigor of imagination Hersch stands pretty much alone in this country in terms of his confrontational musical idiom. That might have been a minus to some 1990s audiences, but now seems to define our time. His dissonances were always fascinating; now they're oddly comforting. The Symphony No. 2 and Arraché in particular stand up well among Hersch's recent work, especially in these compelling, comprehending performances. In fact, this may be conductor Marin Alsop's best recording yet. -- The Philadelphia Enquirer

These performances confirm Michael Hersch as one of the most seriously engaging musical voices in the U.S. today. The Second Symphony marries a volcanic New World energy to a deeply skeptical, often angst-ridden spiritual climate. Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are brilliant advocates. -- The Financial Times, U.K.

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Symphony No. 2: I. Prestissimo 3:04$0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. Symphony No. 2: II. Adagio 3:04$0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. Symphony No. 2: III. Largo 6:33$0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. Symphony No. 2: IV. Moderato 6:41$0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. Fracta11:12$0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. Symphony No. 126:57$0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. Arrache 6:44$0.89  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 21, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos American Classics
  • ASIN: B000IY0666
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,198 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Patrick W. Crabtree VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First, I need to say that I am a huge fan of both Modern and Contemporary Classical Music including such works as Berg: Wozzeck, Jouni Kaipainen: Horn Concerto; Cello Concerto, Paul Hindemith: Complete Orchestral Works [Box Set], Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire, and so on. But these compositions by Michael Hersch mostly seemed to come off as little more than "sound experiments" to me.

I have re-played this CD multiple times, thinking that perhaps I was missing something but the music seems to have no core and wanders (and jerks) aimlessly about. If one were to take little nubs and pieces of the above works that I cited, then you'd get a similar result... everything from groaning cello to atmospheric near-dead space to in-your-face percussion, but little central theme. Probably my biggest critique is that Hersch broke no new ground in this instance that I could hear.

On the CD listeners will find:

Tracks 1-4, Symphony No. 2 (19:18)
Track 5, Fracta (11:11)
Track 6, Symphony No. 1 (27:00)
Track 7, Arraché (6:52)

The bulk of these works and movements share this implication of theme absence, Fracta excepted. It's a moody piece with a minimalist ambiance which flows along nicely.

I do give the PERFORMANCE by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop great credit.
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By Mark on October 25, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Hersch is, like Mahler was, a visionary. Everything I have ever heard of his, including this recording, is intensely spiritual in ways that our brains cannot unravel. Hersch must be heard with the soul, and most souls are probably not yet ready for him. Mine was not only a few short years ago.
The stuff he is saying is terrifying -- all profound truth is. And yet, in some inexplicable but very real way, these terrible truths can set you free. Thank you Mr. Hersch.
(And thank you Jay Nordlinger, without whom I'd still be in the dark re: the greatest composer of the 21st century.)
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By MH on September 5, 2012
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Mr. Herschel is an AMAZING composer and performer. His music rarely is soothing but always will move you. At times, it is quiet and you strain to hear and at times the music crashes forth with the thunder of intensity. It always is incredible, no matter the piece.
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