Paul Creston's romantic and tuneful music has, surprisingly, made little
headway despite its obvious strengths. Several of his symphonies have made
it onto CD (and Naxos will add to that small store very soon). No doubt there
would have been a complete symphonic cycle from Gerard Schwarz if only Delos
had not run out of stamina (and cash).
Creston's Chant of 1942 is overcast, emotional and heavy with tragedy
redolent of the deathly times in which it was written. The liner notes relate
the music to the despondency of the times and the horrors of Greece, Poland
and Lidice (compare Martinu's and Alan Bush's works referring to Lidice).
The final section of the Chant is like some muffled clock, desperate
and at the same time threatened and empyreumatic. Surely this work takes
some inspiration from Shostakovitch's Leningrad Symphony as well.
What a surprise to discover the melting lilt of Creston's Suite For
Strings (1978). The whole thing lasts less than 16 minutes and is in
four movements, by turn, jaunty-lilting; scattily carefree; hauntingly
serenading; and the final fugal Cumulus throws and spins the tunes
of the three previous movements together in a careful and concentrated display.
This CD is not part of the Crystal Hovhaness '800' series but nicely complements
it. Hovhaness's Celestial Fantasy is subdued and inward with
over-the-shoulder glances at Warlock's Capriol but with the accustomed
oriental sway and twist. The Second Armenian Rhapsody (which closes
this disc) is similar to the other two rhapsodies with its long-lined swaying
tunes, pizzicato and wilder court dances. Not consistently compelling but
well-rounded and always tuneful. The disc partners David Amos conducting
a generous Hovhaness collection (almost 70 minutes) with the Philharmonia
on CD810 and Amos conducting the Artik Concerto on CD802.
Norman Dello Joio's Air for Strings (1967) is a tender serenade of
crystal brevity. Chajes Israeli Melodies are a simple and dignified
set of string songs. Nothing grates. The down-side is that there is a certain
blandness about the music which is cast off only in the opening intensity
of Song of the Night. Persichetti's Introit is not simple.
It inhabits the desolate places of Warlock's Curlew and the misty
streams of Bernard van Dieren's imagination.
The fine notes by Anne Ford-Horne are in English only.
Recommended for anyone wishing to add a tuneful collection of string works
to their collection. Committed Crestonians (and we do exist) and Hovhaness
acolytes will also need this polished and well-balanced album.
Price 16.95 US dollars plus 2 US dollars per shipping within USA.
Orders from outside the USA please contact Crystal direct for quote.
Credit card orders (Visa or MC) are accepted.
28818 NE Hancock Rd
Camas, WA 98607
phone 360-834-7022, fax 360-834-9680