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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Paul Creston was among the most approachable of American symphonists. The First is exuberantly colourful and strongly rhythmic, with clean-cut themes. The titles of the four compact movements—With Majesty, With Humour, With Serenity and With Gaiety—reflect the openness of the emotions. No. 2 is much darker, with each of its two substantial movements moving from darkness towards a lightened mood. No. 3 outlines the life of Christ with a peaceful opening, almost pastoral, representing the Nativity and leading to a joyful allegro. The second movement, representing the Crucifixion, is a heartfelt lament, avoiding bitterness and anger, before the Resurrection finale, where Creston is at his most specifically American, almost Copland-like, with jagged syncopations leading to a triumphant close. The Ukraine Orchestra, very well rehearsed, plays with warmth and an idiomatic flair surprising from a non-American band, and it is very well recorded.



Malcolm Hayes
Classic FM, August 2002

"Paul Creston is another American name that deserves to be better known. Born to Sicilian parents in New York, Creston was a famous composer in his day before modernist fashion pushed his music aside. The first of his three symphonies fizzes with accomplished panache; the second, with its unusual two-movement design, forges ahead into more ambitious territory; and the third, subtitled 'Three Mysteries,' is an attractively realised symphonic portrait of the life of Christ. All three works demand a level of nimble expertise to which the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine rises very well under the direction of Theodore Kuchar."



Joseph Horowitz
The New York Times, July 2001

Of the most-performed American symphonists of the 40's and 50's, Paul Creston has fallen furthest; his music goes unheard today. A Naxos CD of Creston's first three symphonies asks why. Perhaps this self-made Italian-American simply doesn't fit any usable niche. He is remote from the onetime Francophile mainstream defined by Copland and other apostles of Nadia Boulanger; he wasn't a rebel (though the rebellious Henry Cowell championed him).

"Creston's Symphony No. 2 (1944) remains a fresh experience, unpretentiously strong, unostentatiously original, a sunny American "La Valse" in two self-generating movements (Introduction and Song; Interlude and Dance), whose fluidly shifting rhythms and shapes mate with lush harmonies and tunes."



Sam Telling
Stereophile, April 2001

"Spectacular sonics. Releases like this are what make Naxos great."



SFV
Time Out New York, March 2001

"Throughout, Kuchar draws solid, idiomatic playing from his Ukrainian forces, and the recording is clear."




Richard Burke
Fanfare, November 2000

ANTHEIL: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 / McKonkey’s Ferry 8.559033
CRESTON: Symphonies Nos. 1–3 8.559034
THOMSON, V.: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 / Symphony on a Hymn Tune 8.559022

I have chosen three recent ones that demonstrate the vitality and scope of the American symphony in the 20th century. © 2000 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare




Henry Fogel
Fanfare, November 2000

Kuchar and his Ukraine forces give performances that can be described as competent…good enough to convey the powerful qualities in all three of these unjustly neglected symphonies. © 2000 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare




Walter Simmons
Fanfare, November 2000

The three works are all presented in fine performances, making readily available (and at a budget price) three accessible and highly personal American symphonic masterpieces… © 2000 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare



Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, October 2000

"Paul Creston was a relatively popular composer until the 60s, when, like many American romantics, his music was condemned as old fashioned.

"The largely self-taught Creston's best works - including these symphonies - are a strong argument that "modern" music can be immediately appealing. They are full of colourful orchestration, rich melodies, dance-like rhythms (almost any Creston score can be heard as a ballet), and tonal yet richly chromatic, almost breezy, harmony. (I have never played a tonal work with more accidentals than Creston's Fantasy for Trombone.) Creston's sound would be perfect for one of those big-city-at-night movies. He reminds me of Villa-Lobos, with a touch of Milhaud in the harmony (more chromatic than many Americans), and a foretaste of Leonard Bernstein in the rhythm. Think West Side Story in the latter case.

"Kuchar digs in to produce lively readings with clear textures, solid tempos, strong line, and a snap to the rhythms.

"This collection is a must-have for lovers of Creston and of the American music of his era - and not just because it has the only recording of the First Symphony. (Naxos expects to issue the last three in three years)."



Peter Dickinson
Gramophone, July 2000

"Creston is another American romantic whose heroic symphonies emerged in the 1940s. The rarity here is No 1, premiered in 1941, given the New York Critics' Circle Award and recorded under Stokowski, but little known since.

"Creston became submerged by the 1960s and his music is now fighting back – and winning."



Audiophile Audition, May 2000

"Creston's music has always been full of lyrical melody and strong rhythms and thoroughly accessible to most listeners. Much of it has an exuberance and optimism that is not present in most modern music. This is especially true of the early First Symphony."






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