Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra, with Harp and Strings
Spirituals for Strings
Adagio for Strings
William Howard SCHUMAN
Symphony No. 5 (Symphony for Strings)
Charles Neidlich (clarinet),
I Musici de Montreal - Yuli Turovsky
recorded September 1998 and 7-11 June 1999, in the L'Eglise de la Nativite
de la Sainte Vierge, Quebec. DDD
Chandos CHAN 9848
It must seem strange seeing the reference to "Premiere Recording" against
what has become the world's most popular (except perhaps the Nielsen) modern
Clarinet Concerto. Charles Niedlich has spent some effort searching through
the archives after feeling, for some time, that the clarinet writing in the
better known version was somewhat simple. Whilst reading Copland's autobiography,
he was fascinated to find that there was an earlier, more complex version
which had been suppressed because the composer thought it would not be played
by reason of its technical challenge. This facet was written into the original
work because of the virtuosity of its dedicatee, Benny Goodman, and listening
to the tremendously exciting solo writing in this version, makes me wish
that this version had been available a lot sooner.
Neidlich makes very easy work of the complexity and he is admirably accompanied
by I Musici de Montreal, led by Yuri Turovsky. Allied to this is a superb
recording in the usual Chandos manner. The disc is worth buying for the Copland
We have however, the ubiquitous Adagio for Strings of Samuel Barber,
and two other modernish American works which are not particularly well
represented in the current catalogue.
Morton Gould's Spiritual for Strings is the less well known of his
spiritual-based compositions. Unlike the other two (Spirituals for
Orchestra, and Symphony of Spirituals), the Spirituals for
Strings actually uses Spirituals and these are orchestrated by the composer.
There are six spirituals involved, "Gospel Train - Old Time Religion, Were
You There? - Steal Away, All God's Children Got Wings, Little David Play
on Your Harp, Calvary - He Never Said a Mumblin' Word, and Ezekiel Saw de
Wheel" - marvellous stuff.
We then move on to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, an arrangement
for String Orchestra of the Adagio which Barber wrote as the slow movement
to his String Quartet. This work has almost become an American anthem, plus
having been arranged for Choir, String Orchestra, Synthesiser, and all manner
of songs and incidental music. There cannot be many who have not heard this
work. So, is this performance the one everyone should have? Well, no, but
it is as good as a lot of the others and better than many.
The disc finishes with perhaps the most difficult work, that of the Symphony
No. 5 (The Symphony for Strings) by William Schuman. This was written
for Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1943, and is
written in three movements, the last of which incorporates a quotation from
Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony which brings this enterprising and well produced
disc to its conclusion.