Howard Hanson conducts the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra
John Alden CARPENTER (1876-1951) Adventures in a Perambulator (1917) [27:30]
Roger SESSIONS (1896-1985) The Black Maskers - Suite (1928) [21:16]
Charles IVES (1874-1954) Symphony No. 3 Camp Meeting (1908-10) [20:44]
Eastman-Rochester Orchestra/Howard Hanson
rec. Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York, Oct 1956, May 1956, May 1957
Source used for Transfer: Mercury 2-track tapes for the Carpenter and Sessions; Mercury 4-track tape for the Ives
HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS HDCD216 [69:30]

This generous disc happens to complement the three CDs of Hanson-conducted Americana recently issued by Pristine Audio and also to be reviewed here; not to mention the same companyís transfers of some of Bernard Herrmannís radio sessions.

The engineersí microphone placements seem greedily to have absorbed the session venue sound. The disc disgorges those treasures for the benefit of todayís willing time travellers. No Technicolor detail is lost.

The Carpenter is known. This version last appeared in Mercuryís Hanson-conducted Eastman-Rochester 6 CD Americana box. A modern recording is on Naxos with Carpenterís two symphonies. Its character is rather Ravel-like and majors on charming innocence. The movements tell us as much: 1. En Voiture; 2. The Policeman; 3. The Hurdy-Gurdy; 4. The Lake; 5. Dogs; 6. Dreams. The Sessions Black Maskers suite is from early in his concert career. Itís from a much more granitic school. The four far from slight movements are: Dance; Scene; Dirge and Finale. The sound is full-on and so torrid that there were a few negligible skips. Itís full of ruthless, relentless activity communicated with a screamingly rip-saw tone. Though hard itís not dissonant and certainly at this stage in Sessionsí career the music is more Eastman-Barber than New York-Ruggles. Like Elliott Carter in his First Symphony and Pocahontas Suite it is clear that he at first found solace and satisfaction in more lyrical and less dissonant realms. This is not a work of strident modernity. I would compare it to the jagged episodes in Barberís Medea but with a twist of salt and a spray of acid. Thereís a touch of Ravel too with warm lyricism from the violins as well as all that raucous muscularity. The organ looms upwards with threat and tragic contemplation. A small criticism: there is insufficient silence between trs. 10 and 11 to separate the end of the Sessions from the start of the Ives. Speaking of which in Old Folks Gatheriní the warm billowing string sound carries the burden of hymns threading their way in and out of the pages of this the third of Ivesí four symphonies. Childrenís Day has a deeply pleasing sound as is established from the pulse-quickening start of a movement that is predominantly idyllic. The more complex world of Communion closes the disc. I noticed a little isolated analogue tick at 1.09 in this movement but this not detract from a most skilled and satisfying transfer.

See also the MWI review of this disc in download format. The reviewers are a doughty team: Brian Wilson and Dan Morgan.

Rob Barnett

A most skilled and satisfying transfer.