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By A Customer
This review is from: Hanson: Symphony No. 1 Nordic; Symphony No. 2 Romantic; Song of Democracy (Hanson Conducts Hanson) (Audio CD)
These two well-known works and performances arrive beautifully refurbished by Wilma Cozart from her own taping sessions, for the world's delectation and simple delight.
Curiously, the Nordic seems somewhat dated now, more of an occasional piece in the vein of Harris's Folksong Symphony and others from the 1930s and 40s. In this time of cultural diversity as an everyday American discussion point, the work seems a tad ethnocentric, culturally correct, and postsecondary-academic. There's no question as to the quality of the performance which makes you give the work your heartfelt consideration.
There is no question about the Second being one of the great American symphonies (and there's a huge list of them). It is superbly elegant, musical, rapturous, and rewarding. It is a hauntingly restorative work that, with its breadth and sweep, propels you out and above the mundane cares of your own squalid and routine sphere, and builds your resolve to strike out of and live more fully. As such, it's a remarkable musico-philosophical example. Again, the performance is above reproach, thrilling, virtuoso, full of comittment, fully up to the considerable merits of the material.
The Lament is a fine example of Hanson's choral production. The music is remarkable in how it follows the text closely (and reminds one strongly of the composer's opera Merry Mount and its textual integrity). I can't imagine this great work being performed by any group other than a university or even high school chorus...it cries out for youth's optimism and desire for accomplishment. The Eastman chorus is brilliant, with well-expressed enthusiasm and outstanding tone, diction and mimicry, all the qualities of a fine Italian opera chorus. The orchestra is no less, but less-featured, and one would be hard-pressed to come up with one to suggest as an alternative!
Overall, this is an outstanding disk that can be welcomed with relief as the performances' initial vinyl issues languish and deteriorate on world collectors' shelves.