JoAnn Falletta / Ulster Orchestra

Paine: Symphony No. 2 "In the Spring"

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The second CD of a two-volume set of the orchestral music of the late-Romantic American composer John Knowles Paine, this 2015 Naxos release presents the Prelude to the play Oedipus Tyrannus, a premiere recording of the tone poem Poseidon and Amphitrite - An Ocean Fantasy, and the Symphony No. 2 in A major, "In the Spring." Paine was a respected music professor at Harvard University and the most prominent member of the group of composers called the Boston Six, so his influence on the development of American symphonic music was significant. However, the flavor of Paine's music is actually less American than German, as befitted his European training and the music that dominated concert halls at mid-century. In Paine, one can hear traces of Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms, so a measure of the musical taste can be taken in his music, particularly in the Second Symphony, which was a popular success and Paine's favorite among his works. JoAnn Falletta conducts the Ulster Orchestra in these performances, and the playing is robust and solid, if not especially vibrant. Because Paine's music is quite conservative and lacking in dramatic effects, the orchestral palette is not especially colorful, so the musicians have less distinctive sonorities in Paine's rather homogenous scoring. This is a respectable presentation, if not a revelation, and anyone interested in the beginnings of the American symphonic tradition should hear this album.

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