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Diamond: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 15, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"To me, the romantic spirit in music is important because it is timeless." These words by David Diamond capture the essence not only of the composer himself, but of an entire generation of American composers whose heartfelt music was born during the Great Depression and World War II. Symphony No. 2 begins with an elegiac slow movement whose textures recall the "American" sound of Copland as well as the lean beauty of the Adagio finale of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, countered by the optimism of the concluding rondo, based on a jaunty, unmistakably "American" theme. Symphony No. 4, dating from the final year of World War II, is a compact, probing work created at a time when Diamond was preoccupied with thoughts of mortality. It concludes, nevertheless, wth an assertive and exuberant finale which breathes the fresh air of the American outdoors.

Review

His music, a lean and unsentimental Romanticism, has an elegiac quality yet with a sense of solace and hard-won optimism. -- Miami Herald, Lawrence Johnson, July 1st, 2007
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Seattle Symphony
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Composer: David Diamond
  • Audio CD (June 15, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos American Classics
  • ASIN: B000260QEM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,243 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 26, 2004
Format: Audio CD
"It is my strong feeling that a romantically inspired contemporary music, tempered by reinvigorated classical technical formulas is the way out of the present period of creative chaos in music...To me, the romantic spirit in music is important because it is timeless." -- David Diamond
Amen to that. This CD is a partial reissue of a Delos CD which came out in 1990 at the time of David Diamond's 75th birthday. The Delos also contained the 13-minute 'Concerto for Small Orchestra,' which I presume will be coupled with something else in this ongoing Naxos reissue of the whole series of Diamond recordings made by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony from that time.
Symphony No. 2 reminds me of the comment Schoenberg made to Diamond when the latter asked about the possibility of study with him. Schoenberg said, 'Why do you need to? You're the new Bruckner...I never meant [the twelve-tone technique] for everybody." This symphony is surely Diamond's most Brucknerian, not so much in its sound as in its unhurried long-spanned structure. Indeed, I've always thought of this four-movement 43-minute work as really consisting of two long Brucknerian movements arranged so: 1 2 | 3 4, where 1 & 3 are elegiac and lyrical adagios leading directly to 2 & 4, which are vigorous allegros. Further, material from 1 reappears in 3, as material from 2 recurs in 4. The slow movements are threnodies; the symphony was written in 1942-43, during America's early days in the uncertainties of World War II. They contain much soft, slow-moving mostly string music with treading soft timpani, melancholy Coplandesque solo woodwind melodies and low brass interjections; the overall effect is that of hieratic elegies that occasionally rise to anguished or triumphant climaxes.
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Format: Audio CD
Proof positive that David Diamond is indeed an American treasure. When I was growing up with my classical music loving father, I heard primarily about Gerschwin and Copland, those were the composers everyone talked about if they talked about such music at all. I never heard about Piston or Diamond or Harris or Gould. As someone who admires Aaron Copland profoundly, I must rank David Diamond's symphonic music on a direct par with Copland's. His sense of symmetry and organization is deeply satisfying, and his moving harmonic lines and dramatic bursts of brass and percussion create an emotional experience that ranks among the most rewarding in all symphonic music. His orchestration is replete with variety and mastery. If there is anything at all that jars in his music, it is the occasional apologetic ending of certain movements. But this is a sort of signature of Diamond's, a method of driving the listener to return in her mind to what she has just heard and review it, turn it over in her head. Doing so is irresistible, as the musical experience Diamond creates with his symphonies is among the most meaningful I've ever enjoyed. An ideal listening experience, even in this inexpensive Naxos recording. An incredible bargain.
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Format: Audio CD
Gerard Schwarz, the conductor and strong Diamond advocate, calls the Second "arguably the greatest American symphony." As a Believer, Schwarz makes the strongest possible case, performance-wise, for these works.

I was impressed with the first two movements of the Second Symphony, but the rest sounded like too much 40's-style notespinning. If you're looking for the Great American Symphony, try the Barber First, the Schuman Third, the Harris Third, the Shapero, or best of all but hard to find, Sebastian Currier's "Microsymph." If you're looking for good music of the period, subperbly performed, this recording can't be beat, and the price is right.
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