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Joseph Horowitz
The New York Times, July 2001

"Another American Romantic also admired abroad, also encouraged by Liszt, was George Templeton Strong (son of the famous New York diarist). He is slated for the full Naxos treatment. So far we have the hourlong Symphony No. 2 (1888), with the Moscow Symphony and the one- name Swiss maestro Adriano ("obsessed with Templeton Strong," says Victor Ledin). When Seidl gave this music with the Philharmonic in 1893, it was greatly admired by New York's estimable critics.

Again, Naxos furnishes an opportunity to figure out what the fuss was about. Inspired by Durer's phantasmagoric engraving 'The Knight, Death and the Devil,' steaming with 'Tristan,' 'Parsifal' and Bruckner, Strong's Second proves formidably and precariously epochal, with a breadth of stride not to be found in MacDowell; it is actually revivable (and might suit the Philharmonic's next music director, Lorin Maazel)."



John Tyler Tuttle
Le Monde de la Musique, March 2000

"La découverte la plus surprenante est George Templeton Strong (1856-1948). Ce New-Yorkais qui rencontra Liszt s'en est inspiré dans sa vaste Deuxiéme Symphonie, crée en 1893 par le Philharmonie de New York. Inspirée par un roman chevaleresque de La Motte Fouqué, cette oeuvre grandiose ne dépeint rien moins que 'le combat de l'humanité contre les forces du mal.' C'est dramatique, parfois paroxystique et globalement germanique. En complément, le trés beau Choral sur un théme de Hassler (1929), crée à Paris en 1933 sous la direction de Louis Durey. Les intreprétations sont satisfaisantes, les divers chefs faisant preuve d'un enthousiasme admirable."

"The most surprising discovery is George Templeton Strong (1856-1948). This New-Yorker who met Liszt is inspired in his vast Second Symphony, a work that was performed in 1893 by the New York Philharmonic. Inspired by a chivalric novel by La Fouqué Mound, this imposing work depicts nothing less than ' the combat of humanity against the forces of the evil.' It is dramatic, sometimes volatile, and thoroughly Germanic. In contrast is the very beautiful Choral on a Theme of Leo Hassler (1929), which was performed in Paris in 1933 under the direction of Louis Durey. The interpretations are satisfactory, the various conductors showing an admirable enthusiasm."



Ian Lace
MusicWeb International

George Templeton Strong was an American Romantic who lived in Switzerland. He was a colleague and friend of MacDowell. Strong lived to 92 and composed grandiose musical works and painted evocative watercolours. His music was once championed by Ansermet, Szigeti, Iturbi and Toscanini.
Strong's Symphony No.2 "Sintram" is subtitled - "The Struggle of Mankind Against the Powers of Evil". Lasting practically an hour, it is modelled on de la Motte Fouqué's romance with additional inspiration from Albrecht Dürer's famous Ritter, Tod und Teufel (The Knight, Death and the Devil). Briefly Fouqué's Sintram tells of Björn a cruel, despotic Nordic knight and his son Sintram whose life is blighted by a curse resulting from his father's misdeeds. The story culminates in the comforting power of Christianity in which they finally find peace as opposed to the indulgence of wild passions nurtured by barbarous feudal customs. These opposing elements are juxtapositioned in the music, of the first two movements, which is clearly influenced by Wagner. The third movement is reminiscent of Berlioz. It is entitled The Three Terrible Companions: Death, the Devil and Insanity and is a vivid evocation of the Dürer woodcut (see CD booklet cover illustration) with is picture of poisonous plants, hideous creatures and death riding beside the knight who rides on unconcerned and determined to reach his goal - the castle in the background. It also alludes to Fouqué's romance. It is clear from the oriental/belly dance-type figures that Strong considers the sins of the flesh to be very much the work of the devil. The final movement, The Victorious Struggle is an expression of hope for the future in the struggle against evil. The music is suitably heroic and mystical. Without being very originl this work has atmosphere and thrills enough with the third movement containing the most arresting music.
Adriano delivers a thrilling and evocative reading.
The much shorter Chorale (seven minutes) was orchestrated in 1929. Hassler's Chorale, Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden (When the Last Hour Comes) was originally published in 1601. It sounds like a funeral procession and indeed one writer pointed out the irony that Strong wrote the work around the time of the stock-market crash and the start of the Great Depression! It is moving enough.






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9:59:01 PM, 1 November 2014
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