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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Schermerhorn gives a relaxed account of the First Symphony, notably slower than the composer’s own thrusting Mercury account, but this warmer approach offers its own rewards, especially in some of the more lyrical passages. The two tone-poems are rarities: Pan and the Priest, written during 1925–6, begins quite mournfully on a solo cor anglais, and is passionate and reflective in turn, with the orchestra (including a piano) used colourfully. The Rhythmic Variations are melancholic and contemplative in nature, but appealing also, and the colourful Merry Mount suite (one of Hanson’s best works) is splendidly done. The Nashville SO play well for Schermerhorn, and the sound is warm and reasonably vivid. Good value.

Walter Simmons
Fanfare, November 2001

Naxos' American Classics series provides an ideal opportunity for the most hesitant, price-conscious listener to sample some treasures from this less familiar repertoire. This CD brings together several selections that represent him at best, for less than the price of a single movie ticket.

Sam Telling
Stereophile, April 2001

"A fine American orchestra playing works of a major American composer, Howard Hanson: stirring, evocative, romantic."

Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, December 2000

"Hanson wrote his First Symphony, the Nordic, in Italy while studying with Respighi. Though it shows strong marks of the Italian composer's orchestration and several characteristics of Sibelius (particularly from the First Symphony), the Nordic's brand of muscle, energy, and harmony is distinctly American. It contains two long, rhapsodic outer movements, spearheaded by the same theme, and a short delicate Andante.

"Now we have Schermerhorn... ..he emphasizes the work's Sibelian qualities. This is clear partly from the way he carefully shapes the inner parts of the long phrases, suggesting shorter fragments typical of the great Finn. His climaxes are reserved. Textures are lean and on the light side. Tempos are slightly slow. Pacing is measured, lingering, and even tentative sometimes (eg. The opening to I), though when he does pick up the pace, as at 4:15 of I, the contrast is effective. The Andante is marked con semplicta and sounds it. Schermerhorn holds back the opening flourish of III, but he picks up nicely when the main theme of I reappears.

"The couplings are reason enough to buy this disc. Rhythmic Variation on Two Ancient Hymns is a glorious piece of American string hymnody. Pan and the Priest was inspired by unspecified myth and legend. The rhythmically repetitive opening sounds a bit like Philip Glass, though Hanson might have had Sibelius' Night Ride and Sunset in mind. The second half is pagan and ritualistic. Merry Mound Suite is from Hanson's only opera. Like Hanson's rare Mercury recording of excerpts, the suite makes me wish someone would release a full performance of this tuneful work. Rumor full performance of this tuneful work. Rumor has it that one is "in the can" in Seattle, but all we have now is a Metropolitan Opera broadcast from the 30s (on Naxos)

"The Nashville Symphony has a finer tone and more finesse, if less grit and weight, than Hanson's Rochester players, and its ability to sustain slower tempos is impressive...and its relative leanness fits Schermerhorn's interpretations. Naxos's sound is clear, open, sweet, and punchy."

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