Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Reviews from previous months
ALAN HOVHANESS (1911-) Celestial Fantasy (1944)  Armenian Rhapsody No. 2 (1945) PAUL CRESTON (1906-85) Chant of 1942 (1944) Suite for String Orchestra (1978) NORMAN DELLO JOIO (1913-) Air for Strings (1967) JULIUS CHAJES (1910-) Israeli Melodies (?) VINCENT PERSICHETTI (1915-) Introit for Strings (1965)     Israel PO/David Amos rec July 1982 Tel Aviv CRYSTAL RECORDS CD508 [58:23]


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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.


Rob Barnett

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Crystal Records
28818 NE Hancock Rd
Camas, WA 98607
phone 360-834-7022, fax 360-834-9680




Rob Barnett

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