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05/07/2004
David Diamond: Symphony # 8, TOM Suite, This Sacred Ground
Seattle Symphony
Gerard Schwarz (conductor)
NAXOS 8.559156

Perhaps the most important obligation for a major conductor is to preserve and protect our great musical heritage. Gerard Schwarz deserves especially high praise for his stewardship in this regard, devoting much of the energies of his Seattle Symphony to the exploration and dissemination of the works of a certain group of American composers who may not have exactly followed Dvorakís dictum to compose in their own voice, but who developed a collective voice of distinction. The group consisted loosely of William Schuman, Walter Piston, Paul Creston and David Diamond and there is a unique and identifiable idiom that separates them from the rest of the mid-century mainstream. Their work is at best powerful, steely and inventive, at worst pale shadows of the best and least of Aaron Copland. This current reissue by Schwarz, who studied composition at the Ansonia Hotel here in New York with Creston, is the latest facet in the Diamond cycle and contains a masculine and finely executed Symphony # 8 as well as marginalia only Mr. Diamondís mother could love, including ballet music from a version of Uncle Tomís Cabin and a positively loony choral rendition of the Gettysburg Address (A Lincoln Portrait, anyone?) which makes one appreciate by contrast the presidentís original message of profound simplicity.

Frederick L. Kirshnit

 

 

 

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