Monday, September 7, 2009


Arguably the best American symphony coupled with arguably the best-known American symphony makes an ideal pairing on paper. Sad to report, however, I have considerable reservations. Roy Harris‘s Third is one of the most awesomely concentrated of all twentieth-century symphonic structures, but you wouldn‘t guess it from Neeme Jãrvi’s loose-limbed, disconcertingly slack conception. As the opening few minutes quickly reveal, the orchestral playing is neat but cruelly lacks bite and tension. Where’s the sense of tingling expectancy in these measures, the feeling of setting out on some fantastic musical voyage? Whither the bite of fortissimo trombones and horns on their first appearance? And whatever happened to the burgeoning lyricism of the pages that follow? In the central portion (so potently suggestive of the vast horizons of the prairies and their fields of rippling wheat) Jarvi opens out the two small cuts practised by Koussevitzky and Bernstein, but given the disinterested nature of the musicmaking, the restoration of these extra bars is not necessarily a boon. And so it goes on. The tremendous fugue barely gets off the ground, generating none of the volcanic power and implacable momentum so evident in the two Bernstein accounts (CBS, 6/76 and DG, 11/87 — both nla) and Koussevitzky’s fabulous 1939 Boston reading, while Jarvi’s brusquely impatient handling of the tolling peroration merely gives the impression that session-time was running out (and why the sudden, ugly lurch forward in tempo at the beginning of this section?). All in all, the performance is a bitter disappointment, to say the least.

Copland‘s mighty Third fares more happily, but I‘m still far from convinced that Jarvi really has this repertoire well and truly in his bloodstream. For all the agreeable security of the orchestral response, I don‘t register any especial dedication or inspirational sense of occasion about proceedings. Indeed, a certain literalness and “let‘s get on with it“ efficiency tend to scupper large portions of the symphony‘s first half; the searching string dialogue with which the slow movement opens also lacks the last ounce of eloquence (and, at the very start, the necessary icy hush). That said, Jarvi rises capably enough to the big and brazen ‘public‘ gestures of the finale, and the Chandos sound is predictably alluring in its transparent sumptuousness. In the end, though, it all boils down to conviction, the kind of extraordinary commitment to the cause that Bernstein and his New Yorkers display on their electrifying 1985 DG version; the relative dearth of those self-same qualities in Detroit is what ultimately relegates this latest account to the also-rans. AA

Roy Harris: Symphony No. 3 (1939)
1. I. Con moto: quarter note = 84 [Tragic] — - 2:06
2. II. half note = 72-80 [Lyric] — - 1:20
3. III. Poco piu mosso: half note = 94-104 [Pastoral] — - 6:27
4. IV. half note = 112 [Fugue - Dramatic] — - 3:26
5. V. Con moto: whole note = 66-72 [Dramatic - Tragic] - 3:09

Aaron Copland: Symphony No. 3 (1944-46)
6. I. Molto moderato - with simple expression - 9:41
7. II. Allegro molto - 8:00
8. III. Andantino quasi allegretto - 9:30
9. IV. Molto deliberato - 13:26

Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Jarvi
Recorded at Orchestra Hall, Detroit, Michigan USA on 1-2 October 1995


Scoredaddy said...

If you download this album and appreciate my efforts sharing it with you, please make a comment below.

If you want to bring this upload to the attention of people on another website, please link to this blog and not to the actual download links.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for this ...

Horacio said...

Wooooooooooooowwwwwwwww!! This is too much today Foss, Harris and Copland!!! Thanks for sharing this SD!!!

Scoredaddy said...

you are welcome Horacio. Actually, someone had requested this disc but I don't remember who or when!!

Scoresdecine said...

What a wonderful recording! Thanks!

David said...

I requested this! Thank you for being kind enough to post it, especially considering your opinion of the music-making.

Scoredaddy said...

You are welcome David. By the way, the review I published along with the post is not written by me, it is from Gramophone Magazine's archives. I actually like the disc!

Anonymous said...

Scoredaddy, thanks for this - both pieces are new to me, and this is the first Harris I've heard. The thing is, that review has whetted my appetite to hear at least one of the Bernstein performances. Would you or anyone reading this know if it is posted anywhere? I can't find it on the regular blogs but maybe someone else can help. In any case, thanks for this :)


hanswurst said...

That's an excellent edition. Järvi and the Detroit band really excell in this repertoire. Thank you :)

Scoredaddy said...

Look at the post immediately preceeding this one. It is the title you are looking for.

Shadley van Wyk said...

Would love to get this recording, hard to find! Links are down... can you please re-post?
thank you

Scoredaddy said...

new link:!OhkmCaLQ!tueiydnkMxZsQEzgxlCqd2hexyBJuuzcqwr49zlPb_4