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Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, July 2012

Another choice entry in Naxos’ Seattle Symphony Collection, brings back great recordings of American music by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle…As they were some of the best efforts by producer Adam Stern and engineer John Eargle, it’s good to have them available again.

Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, an enduring American favorite that has seldom sounded better than it does here. In the score, Copland used a lot of folksy material…the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” and “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones,” found in many Protestant hymnbooks and used stunningly in the brass at the climax.

Up next: Copland’s 1932 Symphonic Ode, with its rugged grandeur, its transformations of a single melodic idea, its jagged rhythms, and its alternations of slow and fast music. Schwarz presents it persuasively, allowing us to judge its permanent value. My own opinion is this: a symphonic work can be any of three things: (1) a striking original concept, (2) an impressive achievement in orchestration, and (3) a moving experience that resonates in us long after we hear it.

We come finally to Symphony No. 3, “Three Mysteries,” by Paul Creston (1906–1985)…The music is masterfully written and moving… © 2012 Audio Video Club of Atlanta





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