Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:


New England Triptych (1956)
Charles GRIFFES White Peacock (1916)
Charles IVES Three Places in New England (1914)
Alan HOVHANESS Symphony No. 2 Mysterious Mountain (1955)
Walter PISTON The Incredible Flutist - suite (10 movements) (1937)
Dallas SO/Andrew Litton
rec May 1995.
DORIAN DOR-90224 DDD [73.00]
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Dorian's catalogue more often yields up gold then gilt. Their recording quality is strong and up to the highest standards. The Texan Orchestra does not cede place to its European rivals nor even its more prestigious rivals in Boston and New York. I have already reviewed the same orchestra's Dorian discs of Korngold's Sinfonietta and the rather short measure Mata-conducted disc of An American Panorama. The Korngold (Dorian DOR-90216) is simply superb and a very full disc too. Anima-Mathé's Korngold Violin Concerto is a version for grown-ups tired of Heifetz's virtuoso chrome steel helter-skelter. The Sinfonietta is given its optimum recording and interpretation on disc. Mata's On the Waterfront and Harris Third Symphony also have considerable strengths even though their Billy the Kid is the flattest of flat Budweisers.

Piston, Schuman and Ives are all top ten names among American composers. Of them Ives is the most avant garde with his New Englander blood relishing the intentionally gauche and occasionally dissonant picture painting. The first movement refers to the statue of Civil war Colonel Robert Shaw commander of a black battalion. The Fourth of July celebrations of the second movement are followed by a movement recalling, through the flow of the river and the distant and not so distant hymn singing, the composer's stroll with his wife along the banks of the Housatonic. This is done with unbuttoned gusto as is The Incredible Flutist. I have never been all that sure about the Piston ballet but here it is given a vivid outing and the Spanish Waltz in particular is outstandingly good. The ballet is very catholic and perhaps unfocused in its styles. I heard the Schuman piece shortly after hearing the very recently issued Naxos disc (8.559083) and I confess that the virtuosity and sheer élan of the Dorian recording trounces the Bournemouth SO version. It is a combination of vivacity and shatteringly good recording quality that places the Dorian high in the lists.

The brash almost Arnold like character of the Schuman with its raucous triumphalism at the close and thuddingly captured bass drums at the end oft he first movement provides stark contrast with the Debussian evanescence of Griffes' The White Peacock. This is a consummately impressionistic work which shadows Bax's Garden of Fand in its transparency, subtlety and soloistic character. Last, and far from least, comes Alan Hovhaness's Symphony No. 2 and all credit to Litton for choosing a Hovhaness symphony from the sixty-plus available. This is the natural choice having been recorded by RCA with Reiner and the Chicago Symphony. It was premiered 'down the road' in October 1955 at Houston with Stokowski conducting. This version shimmers and glows like an Armenian Tallis Fantasia. It is typical of Hovhaness that to provide variety he deploys a sword-wind second subject (similar to that in the even finer Majnun Symphony) for the Moderato Maestoso central movement. This provides relief from the dominant hymn-like reverence.

Very full and welcome notes from Kevin Bazzana ( I hope we will see more from him). The misspelling ('Hovhannes') of Hovhaness on the back of the jewel case is not repeated in the notes.

This is a very strong selection and one to be commended for its unhackneyed choices. A delight to come across such a collection devoid of Gershwin and Bernstein.

Rob Barnett

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