San Remo Symphony Orchestra

Classical Music around the World, Vol. 2: America

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The second volume of Gallo's series, Classical Music Around the World with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo presents three popular works by acknowledged American masters of the mid-twentieth century. Howard Hanson's lush Symphony No. 2, "Romantic," Leonard Bernstein's humorous Divertimento, and Samuel Barber's serious Essay No. 1 are well-known standards, as eligible for inclusion as many other American pieces, though perhaps not as representative of a "national style" as the label suggests. There is a tendency in this armchair traveler's series to feature only safe, uncontroversial works, and the exclusion from the program of anything, say, by that great American original Charles Ives, may be regarded as a missed opportunity. But it doesn't matter much, because this CD has other problems other than its program to make it questionable. The live performances are only passable, far from the cleanest or most exciting. The orchestra, conducted by Walter Proost, is technically adequate, but strangely detached from the music, as if it has little passion for these pieces, but goes along with the performances as a business matter. Gallo's all-digital recording is remote, unfocused, and overcast, with the kind of muffled sound one might expect from a poor analog recording.

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