Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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WILLIAM SCHUMAN (1910-1992) Credendum (1955) [17.24] LOUIS GESENSWAY (1906-1976) Four Squares of Philadelphia (1951) [26.51] VINCENT PERSICHETTI (1915-1987) Symphony No. 4 (1951) [23.48]   Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy all mono recordings - rec 1956, 1955 and 1954 respectively ALBANY RECORDS TROY 276 [68.14]




Gesensway's Four Squares is in six movements; not the expected four. The four squares (Washington - colourful and bustling, Rittenhouse - warm, Logan - slightly chilly as night falls and Franklin) are framed by a Prologue and an Epilogue.

Gesensway, who was of Latvian extraction, is inevitably seen as trying to do a Fountains of Rome for Philadelphia . The work differs from the Respighi work in many ways. An orator appears in the prologue for a start and in any event the music is not as compelling as the Respighi. The noble sentiments of the prologue text give place to singers mimicking the mart calls of the street traders. The music is light, colourful, amicable, eclectic, pictorial, celebratory (Hispanic), over-extended in the case of Logan and lightly popular in Franklin (night life: china town and jive). Overall it is not specially memorable. It is perhaps a counterpart to Eric Coates Four Centuries suite and George Lloyd's Charade Suite. It is the soft centre of this disc but it is flanked by two symphonic statements.

The Schuman is not called a symphony but it has the architectonic 'feel' of one. It is typically stark - almost statuesque. The fervour of the music speaks of beliefs declaimed and longed-for certainties. The strings are typically taut and high tensile. The music is nervy, convulsive, and of a steely forward-surge. Credendum was written at the time of symphonies 7 and 8 and the violin concerto and it bears all the intensity of these works. Classic Schuman. As with all the other pieces here one does not feel the lack of stereo.

The Persichetti is in four movements. The first is drastically energetic with multiple cross-references to the symphonies of William Schuman and Roy Harris. It is influenced by Stravinsky and so is the cool andante (II) which deploys a tune uncannily like the big theme from Andrzej Panufnik's Heroic Overture. The Allegretto has the flowing grace of Roy Harris. The finale Presto darts and flows with lambent vitality. It remains cool and clear nicely mating together the attractions of the romantics and the neo-classicists. The final brass shouted bars are clearly influenced by William Schuman and, dare I say it, Kabalevsky (Colas Breugnon or was that written later?).

John Proffitt's notes are reliable and satisfying. Another super-fine contribution to Albany's 'American Archives Series'.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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