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David WARD-STEINMAN (b.1936)
Concerto No. 2 for Chamber Orchestra (1. Moderately Fast 2. Very Slow 3. Fast and Vigorous) (1960-62) [17:15]
Paul TUROK (b.1929)
Threnody, op. 54 (1980) [06:01]
Norman DELLO JOIO (b.1913)
Lyric Fantasies for viola and strings (1975) (Adagio, Molto Sostenuto, Amabile; Allegro con Spirito) [14:18]
Henry COWELL (1897-1963)

Hymn for String Orchestra (1946) [05:05]
Paul CRESTON (1906-1985)
Partita for flute, violin and string orchestra, op. 12 (Preamble; Sarabande; Burlesk; Air; Tarantella) (1937) [16:35]
Karen Elaine, (viola) (Dello Joio)
Yossi Aranheim (flute); Nicholas Ward (violin) (Creston)
City of London Sinfonia/David Amos
Rec. Oct 1990, Angel Studios, London. DDD

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David Amos has majored on championing the music of America’s traditionalist composers of the twentieth century. He has recorded more than 130 compositions from this rich stream on some thirty compact discs. These have included lesser-known works by Nicolas Flagello, Arnold Rosner, Paul Creston, Vincent Persichetti, Vittorio Giannini and Ernest Bloch. He has been something of a jobbing nomad and has worked with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the London Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Polish Radio, and the Jerusalem Symphony. He is the founder and music director of the TICO Orchestra of San Diego. He began his musical studies in Mexico City, continuing at San Diego State University, before pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Indiana. In addition to conducting, he has hosted and produced a long-running radio series on contemporary music, and writes a regular music column for the San Diego Jewish Times. He is in frequent demand as a lecturer, guest conductor, and adjudicator in music competitions. [with acknowledgement to the Naxos website].

Amos made three related CDs for Harmonia Mundi in the early 1990s. They were dubbed the ‘Modern Masters’ series and had Amos conducting three different orchestras. The works included were from the alternative melodic stream in 20th century music. Notable were otherwise unrecorded works by Rózsa (Tripartita), Rosner, Hovhaness and Menotti. All three CDs bent their necks for the deleters’ coup de grace pretty rapidly. Kleos have been industriously reissuing them. This is the last of the series to reappear although it was originally volume 2.

The Ward-Steinman, a Sherwood Hall, La Jolla commission, is a neo-classical piece, busy and soloistic, dervish-whirling, not too dry but evidently written with affectionate obeisance to Stravinsky and Pulcinella in the outer movements. The accents are affectingly ‘great open spaces’ American (Harris and Barber). It is for string orchestra with percussion and single woodwind and brass. Turok’s sombre Threnody for string orchestra was premiered in Seattle in January 1980. The Dello Joio Lyric Fantasies is a ripely reflective discursively lyrical piece. There is not a shred of neo-classicism to be heard here. Instead the music is related to early Tippett (Concerto for Double String Orchestra), Great War vintage Frank Bridge and mature Vaughan Williams (Concerto Grosso and Flos Campi). I do not detect much of an American accent (certainly none of the wide open spaces of Ward-Steinman’s ‘centre of gravity’). Like much of Dello Joio this piece has depth and grows on you quickly. Henry Cowell’s tensely serious Hymn for strings is concentrated, rounded, prayerfully invocational, serious and more Tallis-like than the Dello Joio, not as piercing as the Barber Adagio but with something of the weighty passion of Hovhaness’s string writing about it. Creston wrote his Partita in 1937. Its neo-classicism is not of the desiccated type. Certainly it is chatteringly active, debonaire and dashing in the finale but closer overall to Moeran’s Serenade in style. Tribute is paid to Tudor dance forms but always leaning into melody. The alternative Seattle version of the Partita can be found on Naxos:

This is likely to open new casements for the listener with a taste for the melodic yet not bland in 20th century music culture. The Dello Joio is well worth getting to hear. The Creston is attractive and both the Cowell and Turok are sincere and eloquent. Only the Ward-Steinman with its intermittent predilection for dry neo-classicism may sometimes disappoint. At bargain price a very welcome return to the catalogue.

Rob Barnett

NORMAN DELLO JOIO official site
THE ORIGINAL MODERN MASTERS SERIES (all now reissued on Kleos)
Volume 1. London Symphony Orchestra / David Amos.

Harmonia Mundi cassette HMU40 6010; CD HMU90 6010 (73.00).
Rozsa Rózsa: Tripartita, Op. 33. M. Gould: Folk Suite (1938). Menotti: Triplo Concerto a tre (1970). Lavry: Emek - symphonic poem (1936).
Volume 2. Yossi Arnheim (fl); Nicholas Ward (vn); Karen Elaine (va); City of London Sinfonia / David Amos.

Harmonia Mundi cassette HMU40 6011; CD HMU90 6011 (60.00).
Cowell: Hymn. Creston: Partita, Op. 12. Dello Joio: Lyric Fantasies. Turok: Threnody, Op. 54. Ward-Steinman: Chamber Orchestra Concerto No. 2.
Volume 3. Sheldon Merel (ten); Kenneth Smith (fl); Hugh Bean (vn); David Jones (vc); Philharmonia Orchestra / David Amos.

Harmonia Mundi cassette HMU40 6012; CD HMU90 6012 (77.00).
Dello Joio: Meditations on Ecclesiastes. Hovhaness: Psalm and Fugue. Shepherd of Israel. Rosner: Responses, Hosanna and Fugue, Op. 67.

Modern Masters 1
Modern Masters 3
Voices in the Wilderness

Walter Simmons has been fighting the corner of the disdained melodic stream in American 20th century music since the 1950s. At long last his book Voices in the Wilderness has been published and should be available soon. The composers covered are Ernest Bloch, Howard Hanson, Vittorio Giannini, Paul Creston, Samuel Barber, and Nicolas Flagello.
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