wrote more than a thousand works. He lived in New Jersey but this
was his adopted home having been born in Italy and arriving in
the USA in 1900. His compositional language is firmly within the
perimeter defined by Korngold, Puccini, Rachmaninov and Strauss
though in few cases does he rise to their gorgeous saturation.
works are represented on an orchestral collection on Naxos (one
of the earliest instalments in the Naxos American Classics series).
The two symphonies (again conducted by Suben) are on New World.
wrote eight operas, two in English, the remainder in his native
Italian. This is one of the two English language operas. It lasts
just under an hour. Its dimensions place it firmly in the mould
of Lennox Berkeley's A Dinner Engagement and Castaway.
There is a hint of Arabian exotica in the occasional melisma.
Much of the vocal singing reminded me of the Tchaikovskian romance
of Hamilton Harty's superb Ode to a Nightingale though
without the heavily dripping textures. This plays as a serious
opera - with no hint of the sort of delicious cleverness to be
found in Barber's A Hand of Bridge. If it is close to any
Barber it is to Antony and Cleopatra but hardly ever does
Scarmolin flatten us with an orchestral tutti. He is much more
apt to create a gauzy Straussian filigree. Ali Hassan's lovelorn
tenor aria 'Over the world the morning drives its chariot of light'
is one of several lightly coloured highlights. If you appreciate
Arabian Nights entertainments played for sincerity rather than
parody you will find plenty to enjoy in this. The cast is strong
and, going by the recording dates, meticulous care was taken in
preparation and session work.
work is agreeably divided into fifteen tracks so it is easily
navigable. The booklet gives a little sketch of Scarmolin's background
but otherwise all 18 pages are given over to the libretto.
you appreciate Arabian Nights entertainments played for sincerity
rather than parody you will find plenty to enjoy in this. Another
surprising dimension to the riches of the American musical legacy.