Lance Friedel / London Symphony Orchestra

American Symphonies

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While the European avant-garde of the mid-20th century rejected symphonic form as hidebound, reactionary, and ill-suited to the requirements of total serialism, composers in the United States, which included Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Roy Harris, William Schuman, and Roger Sessions, adopted the symphony as an appropriate vehicle for their expansive and elegiac themes, rugged orchestration, open tonality, and the optimism characteristic of Americana. Walter Piston was among these serious practitioners of symphonic writing, and his Symphony No. 6 of 1955 is a landmark of the genre, featuring muscular themes, vigorous development, and a feeling of restless searching in its active dissonant counterpoint. The two following symphonies, Samuel Jones' Symphony No. 3, "Palo Duro Canyon," and Stephen Albert's Symphony No. 2, were both composed in 1992, well after the serialist avant-garde had disappeared, though their clear sense of tonality and energetic rhythms show no break with the previous generation of symphonists. Indeed, the return to melodic clarity, recognizable tonality, and accessibility makes these pieces fitting companions to the Piston, though they are clearly products of strong personalities and not imitative. The performances by Lance Friedel and the London Symphony Orchestra are energetic and vivid, and the super audio sound by BIS brings out inner details that add substantially to the music's interest.

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