AN AMERICAN PANORAMA
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) On the Waterfront -
Roy HARRIS (1898-1979) Symphony No. 3
Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Billy the
Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Eduardo
Dorian DOR-90170 [DDD]
Three archetypically American scores, each bearing the individual stamp of
its creator, add up to a winner of a programme: on paper, at least.
Bernstein's On the Waterfront Suite (taken from the music to the film)
is gritty, graphic music that nevertheless takes in more than its fair share
of lyricism. The opening extended horn solo is beautifully phrased, and Mata
is as responsive to the exciting fight scenes as he is to Bernstien's tender
lyricism. The one major quibble is that the recording in this and throughout
the disc needs more space to breathe and can tend to sound a little restricted
at the higher dynamic levels.
Harris' Third Symphony is fairly well represented in the catalogue. Bernstein's
live 1985 performance (originally coupled with William Schuman's Third) is
absent at present, but his 1961 NYPO account remains, as does Koussevitzky's
classic Boston version (Pearl GEMMCD9492, which also includes the First
Symphony). Whilst not quite in the same league, Mata's tender, detailed approach
pays handsome dividends. His pacing feels completely natural. The long-breathed
melodies are full of feeling and the monumental passages are well captured.
The Copland seems a let down as a finale to this disc in comparison. Rhythms
could be tauter at times, and more a sense of the theatre is needed.
This thoughtfully programmed disc is recommendable mainly, therefore, for
the Harris with the Bernstein coming a close second. A recording which carried
more body and, yes, guts, would have made all the difference.