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Vincent Persichetti: Serenade No. 5, Op. 43; Symphony for Strings, Op. 61: Symphony No. 8

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 1, 2005
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 1, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: First Edition
  • ASIN: B0007ACVPK
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,445 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This CD collates the complete recordings of music of Vincent Persichetti made by the Louisville Orchestra, between 1954 (Symphony for Strings) and 1970 (8th Symphony). All three were premiere recordings and two (the Serenade and Symphony for strings), Louisville commissions. The oldest recording, the Symphony for Strings (5th Symphony) was part of the first batch of twelve LPs released by the orchestra's own label, Louisville First Edition Recordings: it came out on Lou 545-7, paired with Robert Sanders' "Little Symphony" # 2 and Boris Blacher's "Studie im Pianissimo" (the latter now available on CD in a similar collection: Boris Blacher: Orchestral Variations on a Theme by Paganini). The Serenade came out in 1960 on Lou 606 with Bernard Rogers' "Dance Scenes" and Joaquin Rodrigo's "Cuatros Madrigales Amatorios", and the 8th Symphony on LS 706 with Riegger's "Study in Sonority". The 8th has already been issued on CD, on a motley Louisville collection, part of a batch of ten CDs published by Albany in the early 1980s (Music by Norman Dello Joio, Peter Schickele & Vincent Persichetti).

Serenade n° 5 from 1950 is a fine and enjoyable composition in neo-classical style, with meditative slow movements and energetic and boisterous fast ones, colorfully orchestrated. But the lucky draw was the Symphony for Strings from 1953, a composition of searing intensity, worthy of the best pieces in the genre, among which Bartok's Divertimento and Music for Strings-Percussion & Celesta, Honegger's Second Symphony and Ginastera's Concerto per corde immediately spring to mind.
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Both the fifth serenade for orchestra and the fifth symphony were commissions by the Louisville orchestra - among the huge number of works by some of the twentieth century's greatest composers the Louisville Orchestra commissioned in the 1950s; an invaluable contribution to music, to be sure, but I am less convinced that these works by Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987) are among the most important works they premiered.

The relatively brief fifth serenade is cast in five movements and is definitely tonal (and modal) although the material is often brash and edgy. It is an energetic, light work with some vigorous and catchy parts but little to maintain sustained interest. The fifth symphony is officially cast in a single movement but is rather clearly divided into five sections (though the introduction presents the material on which all parts are constructed). It is certainly a more troubled and introvert work, with two particularly dark and burningly angry last sections. It is surely the most impressive work on the disc, without ever challenging the best American symphonies of the period.

The eighth symphony is a big-boned, classical work, opening with a somewhat declamatory first movement followed by a reflective slow movement and a kitschy Allegretto. None of the music is very memorable, however - it moves through the gestures in a relatively grey idiom; only the Vivace finale is really appealing - an enjoyably bright and festively vigorous movement leading up to a rather satisfying conclusion.

The performances are competent but not really much more - the strings sound a little undernourished and although the brass playing is full of character and vigor it is often on the rough side.
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Vincent Persichetti: Serenade No. 5, Op.  43; Symphony for Strings, Op. 61: Symphony No. 8
This item: Vincent Persichetti: Serenade No. 5, Op. 43; Symphony for Strings, Op. 61: Symphony No. 8
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