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Howard Hanson: Symphony No. 3; Merry Mount Suite / Schwarz, Seattle SO

Album Summary

>Hanson, Howard : Symphony no 3, Op 33
>Hanson, Howard : Merry Mount, suite from the opera, Op. 31
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Hanson's symphonic cycle is one of the most important in American music. The Third Symphony, composed between 1936 and 1938, is imbued with the rich Nordic sensibility that runs through the First. It owes its impetus to the pioneering Swedish settlements in America, and its expansive lyricism is beautifully calibrated, with a chorale theme acting as a hopeful constant throughout the journey. Hanson wrote his opera Merry Mount, possibly his most ambitious work, in 1934. Four years later he produced this vibrant orchestral suite. The complete opera, conducted by Gerard Schwarz, is available on 8.669012. "[T]he power of Hanson's earlier works lies in the unabashed hyperbole of their gestures, the unstinting lavishness of their orchestration, and, most of all, their sincere fervor and conviction." (Fanfare on the original Delos release) Gerard Schwarz celebrated his Farewell Season as Seattle Symphony Music Director in 2010 - 2011. He now serves as the Rebecca & Jack Benaroya Conductor Laureate. Under Schwarz's artistic leadership, the Symphony evolved into one of the world's finest orchestras.

MusicWeb International
highly attractive to listen to with the unusual opportunity to hear Scandinavian themes filtered through the creative impulse of an American-born composer. It has certainly spurred me on to explore the other six Hanson symphonies.

Throughout, the way that Hanson uses the orchestra argues once more that he be accepted fully into the repertoire of American orchestras whose causes he so profoundly furthered. He welcomed the challenge of sounding 'Sibelian' and dealt with it head on: the chilling, frozen blasts of glorious northern air that open the symphony are answered by a set of variations that show off the orchestra, by section and by instrument. Just when the music threatens to run out of steam, an unexpected surge of energy from deep within the harmonic core focuses attention on a final triumph. And that's just the first movement.

American Record Guide
There have only been three recordings of this... The Schwarz is by far the best... This recording of the Merry Mount Suite is also the best... The love duet seems more sensitive here... if you don't have this symphony you should pick this up. It's enjoyable music.

Howard Hanson's... seven symphonies are of major importance among his compositions, and Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony received well-deserved commendations for their fine Hanson symphony recordings... Expansive, lyrical and knitted together by a recurrent chorale theme, [No. 3] has a strong spiritual undercurrent that is presented through skillful and colorful orchestration. The suite from Hanson's only opera, Merry Mount, is a fine complement to the symphony.

Symphony No. 3 is a full, lush work with a large orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony under the direction of Gerard Schwarz does an excellent job of bringing Hanson's music to life. The orchestra plays with perfect rhythmic synchronization, a credit to the excellent conductor at the helm.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Seattle Opera House, Seattle, WA.


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Works Details

>Hanson, Howard : Symphony no 3, Op 33
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Ensemble: Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 35 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1937

>Hanson, Howard : Merry Mount, suite from the opera, Op. 31
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Notes: Seattle Opera House, Seattle, WA (02/16/1990-02/18/1990)
  • Running Time: 15 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1938