Author Topic: Roy Harris (1898-1979)  (Read 43977 times)

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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #280 on: September 28, 2017, 09:50:43 AM »

Somehow I feel the Harris is to American music what Rubbra is to British music.

He also reminds me of Holmboe. All three composers preferred evolutionary variation strategies to traditional symphonic forms.
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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #281 on: September 28, 2017, 11:58:05 AM »
He also reminds me of Holmboe. All three composers preferred evolutionary variation strategies to traditional symphonic forms.
Very good point.
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Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #282 on: April 13, 2018, 02:35:59 AM »
Fascinating first recordings of American music Despite the rough recorded sound,I think these are easily my favourite recordings of the Harris symphonies. If only,Ormandy had recorded the Seventh in stereo;and the Sixth in mono or stereo!! :( ;D Not to mention a Bernstein Sixth.  And Seventh? Oh,and an Ormandy or Bernstein Fifth!! I think Roy Harris needs a really front rank conductor to bring off his music. (Although,I fear they don't 'make them' like that anymore?!) Though the Clark Sixth is a pretty fine recording. The Louisville Fifth is still the best commercially available recording. Kuchar's Seventh is not bad,if you insist on stereo sound. Alsop's Harris is awful;even if you like any of Harris' symphonies! :(  I wonder if any recording labels will show any interest in the music of Harl McDonald,by the way. His music was played allot for a while........quite a few decades ago?! You can download some ancient recordings from "Pristine"!

   

Offline Cato

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #283 on: April 13, 2018, 03:00:57 AM »
If you like Roy Harris, you might want to give Gene Gutche a try:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/V-BDFZRD4GY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/V-BDFZRD4GY</a>

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #284 on: April 13, 2018, 03:51:19 AM »
Fascinating first recordings of American music Despite the rough recorded sound,I think these are easily my favourite recordings of the Harris symphonies. If only,Ormandy had recorded the Seventh in stereo;and the Sixth in mono or stereo!! :( ;D Not to mention a Bernstein Sixth.  And Seventh? Oh,and an Ormandy or Bernstein Fifth!! I think Roy Harris needs a really front rank conductor to bring off his music. (Although,I fear they don't 'make them' like that anymore?!) Though the Clark Sixth is a pretty fine recording. The Louisville Fifth is still the best commercially available recording. Kuchar's Seventh is not bad,if you insist on stereo sound. Alsop's Harris is awful;even if you like any of Harris' symphonies! :(  I wonder if any recording labels will show any interest in the music of Harl McDonald,by the way. His music was played allot for a while........quite a few decades ago?! You can download some ancient recordings from "Pristine"!

   
[/quote


Are you familiar with the Koch disc of Harris7/Schuman6?? I still haven't heard that one.


HOW DARE YOU STOKE MY HARRIS FIRE!!!!!

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #285 on: April 13, 2018, 09:52:37 AM »
Bernstein's Sony/CBS recording of Harris's Third Symphony is in a class of its own as far as I'm concerned and much better than the later DGG version.
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #286 on: April 13, 2018, 12:12:50 PM »
Bernstein's Sony/CBS recording of Harris's Third Symphony is in a class of its own as far as I'm concerned and much better than the later DGG version.

Yeah, I agree on this. Same thing with his Schuman 3rd.

Another Harris 3rd I like is the Ormandy on RCA, which as far as I know is still LP only. A more relaxed, luxurious take on this music, showing off the famed "Philadelphia sound."
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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #287 on: April 13, 2018, 10:56:46 PM »
Yeah, I agree on this. Same thing with his Schuman 3rd.

Another Harris 3rd I like is the Ormandy on RCA, which as far as I know is still LP only. A more relaxed, luxurious take on this music, showing off the famed "Philadelphia sound."
Totally agree about the Schuman 3rd and I much prefer the Sony/CBS 'Jeremiah Symphony' conducted by Bernstein to the later DGG one, although I enjoy the even earlier recording as well. I just found a copy of William Scuman's Third Symphony conducted by Ormandy on the Kipepeo label.
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Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #288 on: April 14, 2018, 02:07:57 AM »
The 'dream' cd for me,would have been (rather like that of the Schumann 3,5 & 8) a Bernstein cd of Harris' Symphonies 5,6 & 7. Alas! :( The Pearl cd of Koussevitzky conducts American music is a bit of a 'must have' if you are,genuinely,interested in the formative years of American orchestral music. The Symphony 1933 was an early attempt at 'live' recording. Unfortunately,the engineers weren't very used to the procedure,and a bit of the opening is missing,and a few bars were re-recorded in the studio. The 'electricity' shows through,and,for my money,it's the best Symphony 1933 I've heard! The Foote and Harl McDonald are pleasant,evocative pieces;not very memorable;but no reason not to buy the cd;and enjoyable in their own way. I always used to like Pearl's transfers. Not too interventionist,and not too rough sounding. They struck a nice balance,and their booklet notes were always excellent!

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #289 on: April 14, 2018, 07:44:56 AM »
The 'dream' cd for me,would have been (rather like that of the Schumann 3,5 & 8) a Bernstein cd of Harris' Symphonies 5,6 & 7. Alas! :( The Pearl cd of Koussevitzky conducts American music is a bit of a 'must have' if you are,genuinely,interested in the formative years of American orchestral music. The Symphony 1933 was an early attempt at 'live' recording. Unfortunately,the engineers weren't very used to the procedure,and a bit of the opening is missing,and a few bars were re-recorded in the studio. The 'electricity' shows through,and,for my money,it's the best Symphony 1933 I've heard! The Foote and Harl McDonald are pleasant,evocative pieces;not very memorable;but no reason not to buy the cd;and enjoyable in their own way. I always used to like Pearl's transfers. Not too interventionist,and not too rough sounding. They struck a nice balance,and their booklet notes were always excellent!
Yes, it's a fine historical CD, also featuring the most urgent recording of 'Symphony 1933' which I like very much.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #290 on: April 15, 2018, 12:23:12 AM »
Fascinating first recordings of American music Despite the rough recorded sound,I think these are easily my favourite recordings of the Harris symphonies. If only,Ormandy had recorded the Seventh in stereo;and the Sixth in mono or stereo!! :( ;D Not to mention a Bernstein Sixth.  And Seventh? Oh,and an Ormandy or Bernstein Fifth!! I think Roy Harris needs a really front rank conductor to bring off his music. (Although,I fear they don't 'make them' like that anymore?!) Though the Clark Sixth is a pretty fine recording. The Louisville Fifth is still the best commercially available recording. Kuchar's Seventh is not bad,if you insist on stereo sound. Alsop's Harris is awful;even if you like any of Harris' symphonies! :(  I wonder if any recording labels will show any interest in the music of Harl McDonald,by the way. His music was played allot for a while........quite a few decades ago?! You can download some ancient recordings from "Pristine"!

   
[/quote


Are you familiar with the Koch disc of Harris7/Schuman6?? I still haven't heard that one.


HOW DARE YOU STOKE MY HARRIS FIRE!!!!!
;D

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #291 on: April 15, 2018, 01:10:36 AM »
The NZSO Koch disc of Schuman/Harris  is usually poorly reviewed 'underpowered performances' etc. I rather like the disc however, maybe because I have such a high opinion of both works. Not a No.1 choice but good to hear an alternative take on these works.
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Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #292 on: April 15, 2018, 04:08:51 AM »
I have got admit I haven't heard that recording. I was thinking of adding it to my collection recently;but s/h prices were far too high for me,to justify the expense. It's a pity if the performances aren't that great! The coupling of those two symphonies is quite an inspired choice. Of course one of the downsides is that Harris may come off worst in comparison to Schumann. The latter being,generally,the more highly regarded of the two;judging from numerous posts here and at the Art Music Forum (AMF). Schumann's symphony do seem to offer more of a variety of expresssion and,unlike Harris,he doesn't seem to have got himself into a 'trap' whereby each symphony can feel like a less successful retread of an earlier effort. He also doesn't seem to have gone off the rails so badly as Harris did in his last two efforts. On the other hand,I do actually prefer the Seventh to the third and I can think of worse symphonies than his Eleventh! By the way,would you say that the Koch recording of the Roy Harris is inferior to Kuchar's;which I think is quite good,if you want a stereo recording (good as opposed to Ormandy great!). And which symphony comes off best? The Harris or the Schumann? Oh,and,even if they are underpowered,hopefully the performances are a bit better than Alsop's flabby Harris?!!! But,maybe not?!! :(
Performances aside,I do rather like the composition of the underside of the bridge,against that deep blue sky!


Online vandermolen

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #293 on: April 20, 2018, 11:46:07 PM »
I reckon that I have nine CDs of Harris's Third Symphony (Toscanini, Koussevitsky, Bernstein x 2, Jarvi, Alsop, Mata, Hanson, Llewellyn). Up until now by far my favourite is Bernstein's original CBS/Sony version. That is still the case but a close second is one conducted by Howard Hanson, recently remastered on a Pristine Audio download, which I have as a CD. It is a terrific performance and the CD is great as it includes Griffes's 'Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan' in a very atmospheric performance and Samuel Barber's 1st Symphony plus shorter works by Griffes. I think that the Jarvi version is underrated but the Bernstein and Hanson recordings are by far my favourites.
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #294 on: May 23, 2018, 11:30:58 AM »
An interesting Harris-related thing happened to me yesterday.

Wife & I were walking the dog along the lakefront. We passed a very attractive house which we had passed many times before, but this time the couple that owned it were outside, doing yard work. We told them how much we admired the house, they complimented us on our cute dog, and we got into a conversation.

It turns out that the man was an amateur horn player at a high level - he plays in a couple of local (suburban) orchestras. So we got to talking about music. He had lived in the Los Angeles area and got to know a lot of musicians there, including Roy Harris back in the 1970s. In fact, he was part of a student ensemble which had recorded Harris' brass ensemble music, conducted by the composer.

I mentioned that I had the Chorale for Organ and Brass on a Hyperion CD, and he said, "oh, that's the other recording!"

I decided to track down the recording he had mentioned. This must be it:

https://www.discogs.com/Roy-Harris-Harris-Conducts-Harris/release/5489817

I've never heard of it, or ever seen it on CD. Anyone know this record?
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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #295 on: May 23, 2018, 11:47:50 AM »
An interesting Harris-related thing happened to me yesterday.

Wife & I were walking the dog along the lakefront. We passed a very attractive house which we had passed many times before, but this time the couple that owned it were outside, doing yard work. We told them how much we admired the house, they complimented us on our cute dog, and we got into a conversation.

It turns out that the man was an amateur horn player at a high level - he plays in a couple of local (suburban) orchestras. So we got to talking about music. He had lived in the Los Angeles area and got to know a lot of musicians there, including Roy Harris back in the 1970s. In fact, he was part of a student ensemble which had recorded Harris' brass ensemble music, conducted by the composer.

I mentioned that I had the Chorale for Organ and Brass on a Hyperion CD, and he said, "oh, that's the other recording!"

I decided to track down the recording he had mentioned. This must be it:

https://www.discogs.com/Roy-Harris-Harris-Conducts-Harris/release/5489817

I've never heard of it, or ever seen it on CD. Anyone know this record?

What an interesting encounter. Yes, somewhere in the attic I have that LP. I remember liking the Concerto for Amplified Piano etc.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline kyjo

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #296 on: May 24, 2018, 06:15:09 AM »
My favorite Harris composition that I’ve heard is his Sixth Symphony (Gettysburg), a powerful and atmospheric score. I also like the celebrated Third Symphony, but it is not among my favorite American symphonies (I prefer the third symphonies of Copland, Diamond, Hanson, and Schuman). I’m not a great fan of the Fifth Symphony, which I found rather banal.
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Online vandermolen

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #297 on: May 24, 2018, 08:22:46 AM »
My favorite Harris composition that I’ve heard is his Sixth Symphony (Gettysburg), a powerful and atmospheric score. I also like the celebrated Third Symphony, but it is not among my favorite American symphonies (I prefer the third symphonies of Copland, Diamond, Hanson, and Schuman). I’m not a great fan of the Fifth Symphony, which I found rather banal.

I like No.6 as well, especially in the Keith Clark/Pacific SO recording. I think that Diamond's Symphony 3 is one of the great American symphonies. I also like No.2 by Paul Creston very much. I quite like the Harris No.5 but prefer No.7, especially with Ormandy conducting - it's on a wonderful Albany CD with William Schuman's epic Symphony 6, which I consider a masterpiece.
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Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #298 on: May 25, 2018, 01:29:29 AM »
I rather like the Fifth. I have fond memories of listening to the original Lp,which I borrowed one of the local libraries. I don't find it banal. I find some of the scoring in the quieter moments of that symphony has a lovely luminescent quality to it which makes me think of vast prairies. I sometimes wish Harris' had taken a less hectoring approach to his music It's,all too often,so patriotic and nationalistic. It can be a bit wearing at times,which is why I probably listen to other American composers like Copland,Barber,Piston,Mennin,for instance, more often. I remember as a youngster finding Harris' style exciting,though. It made me think of Western's!! ::) ;D I do think that the Sixth and Seventh are finer symphonies,though. The Sixth in the Pacific Symphony Orchestra recording,anyway. It sounds like a different work in the Naxos recording. And not in a good way!! ??? :( I think the Sixth and Seventh symphonies are impressive symphonies,particularly the Seventh. The hectoring tone means that I don't play it as often as some other American symphonies. But when I do listen to it,I enjoy it. I happen to think that parts of it are quite exciting. I could the same of the Sixth,which again contains the same luminescent quality in it's quieter moments,as the Fifth. I only wish Bernstein or Ormandy,or better still,both,had recorded the Sixth and Seventh symphonies,and in stereo. I have long come to the conclusion that Harris is one of those composers that is tricky to bring off. I'm not making excuses for him (at least I don't think I am! ;D) but just comparing recordings of these symphonies brings me to that conclusion. On the other hand,I think Alsop just didn't have any real understanding of his idiom. I think Kuchar's recording of the Seventh is everything that Alsop's recordings weren't. I find it a very satisfying reading. Ormandy is on another level;but sometimes I want to hear the Harris in stereo. I wish Kuchar could have recorded some more;and preferably not the Ninth! It starts off well then seems to meander aimlessly and repeat the kind of gesturing that Harris did better in his two earlier symphonies. It didn't sound any better in the Albany recording conducted by David Alan Miller,either!! I usually turn off the Naxos cd as soon as the Seventh ends! :( ;D I also think if Bernstein or Ormandy had been able to record the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies in stereo we might (note the word,might!) have a higher opinion of his legacy! You may have noticed I haven't mentioned his most famous symphony;the third. I loved it as a youngster. I had the later Bernstein recording,which was coupled with the Copland Third. I had hardly played the Copland! Now it's the Copland that keeps getting played here! To me,the Copland has all the qualities that Harris tends to lack. I also think that Harris' Sixth and Seventh symphonies are superior;and as a one movement statement the Seventh is a more impressive achievement. So,in a way,Harris did evolve a little further,despite what some of his critics might say. I think that part of the appeal of the Harris might have been that catchy theme that is repeatedly rolled out. Also,it's easy to judge it from this perspective;but in it's day,when it was new,it probably did seem like a bold,striking achievement,and I can understand why conductors,and audiences,initially took to it,in the way that they did. These days,I find that theme a bit too banal and hectoring in tone for my liking. The Seventh is more cleverly constructed and the orchestration is more varied. I'm a bit out of my depth here,not being a musician;but,for me, it makes it's point in a more interesting and less obvious way. And when I'm in the right mood,I find parts of it,and his use of brass really,quite exciting. But please note the words;"when,I'm in the right mood"!!! ;D

Online vandermolen

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Re: Roy Harris (1898-1979)
« Reply #299 on: May 25, 2018, 04:23:10 AM »
An interesting post cilgwyn. Ormandy did record No.7 but maybe it is in mono. I agree about the disappointing Alsop Harris recordings on Naxos. Her Bernstein symphonies 1 and 2 is much better - fine performances.
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