The Naxos
Composer of the Month

In July, Naxos released its recording of Roy Harris’s Symphonies 3 and 4, part of a complete cycle of the composer’s symphonies.  

Roy HARRIS: Symphony No. 3 and No. 4, “Folk Song Symphony”
Colorado Symphony and Chorus, Marin Alsop

CD of the Month

Toru TAKEMITSU: A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden, etc.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop

Roy Harris: Symphonies 3 and 4
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John Tavener: Lament for Jerusalem
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Classical Music Spotlight presents a special interview with Maestro Leonard Slatkin
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William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience
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Monday, November 21, 2005
He Will Roch You

Since its release in September, the Naxos recording of George Rochberg's Symphony No. 2 has garnered a certain amount of critical reaction, with most reviewers asking: Why does the music sound so angry?

Bernard Holland, in a New York Times review this past weekend, hears the violence of the opening movement as a response to Rochberg's experiences as a soldier in World War II; David Hurwitz (who praises the disc mightily) of and Evan Johnson here on chalk up the intensity to the conventions of mid-twentieth century orchestral writing.

The Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell, who taught composition to Rochberg in New York in 1942, premiered Symphony No. 2 in 1959, taking it to Carnegie Hall in 1961. At that time, Rochberg had become increasingly critical of experimental formalists such as Pierre Boulez for abandoning the conventions of Western music, and had argued strenuously that music had to maintain its role within culture as a tool for human communication (see David Salvage's post on this).

It's possible, from this perspective, to hear the energetic brass that begins the Second Symphony as a wake up call, cutting through the stultifying quasi-scientific musical rhetoric of that time to remind people of what music could be.

And there's more Rochberg where this came from: the Symphony No. 2 recording is part of a project to record all of the composer's symphonies with the Saarbruecken Radio Symphony Orchestra and Christopher Lyndon-Gee (this group has already recorded Symphony No. 5 on Naxos as well as the Violin Concerto).