Back in the early '90s when Delos was releasing Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony's award-winning, best-selling series of the great American symphonists, the discs dedicated to the music of David Diamond were among the most award-winning and the best-selling. At the time, Fanfare wrote that the Diamond discs were "the most important releases of American music of the season." Gramophone hailed them as "a perfect introduction to this headstrong American voice." The Village Voice described Diamond as "potentially the greatest of the American symphonists."
That was then, back when people actually bought discs of classical music, much less discs of great American symphonists. But how do the Diamond discs sound now? This one is just about as good as they say. Diamond's Symphony No. 1 is tonal verging at times on the modal, lyrical but tightly argued, brilliantly scored and rhythmically hard driving. His Violin Concerto No. 2 is always tonal, always lyrical, and always gratefully scored for the soloist. His The Enormous Room, based on cummings' novel of the same name, is perfect and minute and gentle and ends in immortal sunlight. Whether or not Diamond is potentially the greatest of the American symphonists, he is still a great composer. How are the performances of Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony? Clearly they're no Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. They don't have the charisma and the virtuosity. But they do have dedication and enthusiasm, and that counts for a lot more. How is the recording by Delos? While not nearly as good as one remembers, it is still among the rounder, warmer, and deeper digital recordings ever made.