Author Topic: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)  (Read 21870 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« on: April 10, 2008, 11:47:06 AM »
I like many American composers: Copland, Bernstein, Harris, Barber, Diamond, Schuman, Creston, Ives, Piston etc but I have a special soft spot for the music of Howard Hanson, which has an endearing warmth about it. It is certainly "old fashioned" but to me this is part of its appeal.

I have recently discovered his "Bold Island Suite" (on Telarc), which cheers me up whenever I listen to it. I have the Mercury Symphony set and the complete symphonies on Delos (a great box set with lots of other orchestral music, including the fine Piano Concerto and epic Lament for Beowulf as well as the very moving Elegy in memory of Serge Koussevitsky).  Koussevitsky's performance of Hanson's Third Symphony (Dutton is the best transfer) brings to it an epic sibelian quality, unlike any other performance (including Hanson's own on Mercury). I think that it is the greatest disc of Hanson's music.  There is a servicable super-budget Arte Nova CD (symphony 2 and 4) and I wonder why Mercury never released their recording of Symphony 4 (one of the best), on CD.

Any other thoughts on this composer?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

gomro

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2008, 12:30:16 PM »
Any other thoughts on this composer?

All I can do is agree with you and magnify the superlatives; Hanson is one of the composers I will not do without.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2008, 03:38:00 PM »
Heartily concur! Hanson's music is warm-hearted, delightfully Nordic and splendidly bracing.

One of my valued old LPs is of the Symphony No.2 "Romantic" played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Charles Gerhardt on RCA Gold Seal coupled with Griffes' 'The White Peacock' and 'The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan'. The Delos set of the symphonies and other orchestral works is well worth having with Schwarz an excellent interpreter. It is a pity that he did not go onto to complete a set of the Piston symphonies or those by David Diamond, let alone those by Paul Creston(a similarly romantic American composer to Hanson).

Pity too that he was-for whatever reason-not able to replicate his obvious success in Seattle during his term with the Liverpool orchestra!

Offline The new erato

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2008, 08:36:22 PM »
The demise of Delos American recordings was very sad indeed, event though Naxos have done good work I miss those Delos releases from the early 90ies.

I have the LP you mention BTW, and very fine it is.

Hector

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2008, 03:37:51 AM »
I recently and finally got round to buying Hanson's Mercury disc of his first two symphonies having had a liking for the "Romantic" for some time.

Sadly, I think the recording shows its age - 1957, I think.

I've, also, bought Alan Hovhaness conducting his own 22nd Symphony in Seattle. A very satisfying piece of music that touches the nerve of this listener (he could, also, write a tune, ssshh).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2008, 05:07:08 AM »
I also have the famous old RCA LP (my introduction to the Hanson). It's in the attic somewhere and I was never sure if the photo on the cover was of Hanson or Gerhardt smoking a cigarette! (to complicate things forther I cave a CD of Hilding Rosenberg symphonies which, for some bizarre reason, contains a photo of Howard Hanson although he was not the conductor). The Gerhardt disc is another one languishing in the RCA vaults and never made it to CD (like Downes's Bax Symphony 3 or Morton Gould's Miaskovsky Symphony 21)

I also regret the demise of Delos, a great label but I see that the Diamond and Piston symphonies recorded by Delos have appeared on Naxos.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 06:04:59 AM »


I also regret the demise of Delos, a great label but I see that the Diamond and Piston symphonies recorded by Delos have appeared on Naxos.
But I think they should record the missing parts of Pistons cycle.

And DG should reissue Tilson-Thomas record of Piston/Schuman (I know it's partly available on Arkiv, it doesn't quite count for me, and I think the Piston is missing in the new coupling)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2008, 02:37:46 PM »
But I think they should record the missing parts of Pistons cycle.

And DG should reissue Tilson-Thomas record of Piston/Schuman (I know it's partly available on Arkiv, it doesn't quite count for me, and I think the Piston is missing in the new coupling)

DGG did issue the Piston/Schuman CD a long time back as I have a copy. It was in their series "20th Century Classics". The Symphony that has never been issued on CD by DGG is Allan Petterson's 8th Symphony, Baltimore SO, Commissiona.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2008, 02:54:02 PM »
It is quite extraordinary that for Walter Piston's 1st, 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies we have no other current choice but the worthy but somewhat undistinguished efforts of the Louisville Orchestra. The 1st, 7th and 8th are conducted by Jorge Mester and were recorded between 1974-78 but the 5th goes back to the days of Robert Whitney. These CDs were released originally by Albany records-a company which appeared, for a time, to be intending to fill many gaps in the American symphonic catalogue. They brought out modern recordings of Piston's 3rd and Creston's 4th. Albany seem these days, however, to concentrate either or the pretty feeble symphonies of Don Gillis or on composers who are-in many cases-completely unknown(at least to me!)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2008, 03:14:09 PM »
It is quite extraordinary that for Walter Piston's 1st, 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies we have no other current choice but the worthy but somewhat undistinguished efforts of the Louisville Orchestra. The 1st, 7th and 8th are conducted by Jorge Mester and were recorded between 1974-78 but the 5th goes back to the days of Robert Whitney. These CDs were released originally by Albany records-a company which appeared, for a time, to be intending to fill many gaps in the American symphonic catalogue. They brought out modern recordings of Piston's 3rd and Creston's 4th. Albany seem these days, however, to concentrate either or the pretty feeble symphonies of Don Gillis or on composers who are-in many cases-completely unknown(at least to me!)

I bought a Gillis Symphony on Dutton recently...a big mistake  :(
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2008, 03:19:17 PM »
I bought a Gillis Symphony on Dutton recently...a big mistake  :(

Up late, Jeffrey? Yes, as a mad completist I have bought ALL of the Gillis symphonies on Albany. They are pleasant but sublimely mediocre. Why a reputable company deems it necessary to record his entire orchestral output beggars belief!! :)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2008, 03:23:37 PM »
Apologies to any Don Gillis fans! I should, of course, have added 'in my opinion' to the 'mediocre' estimation!

(who am I to know anyway? I think the English composer York Bowen was mediocre too but record companies seem to love him these days!)

gomro

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2008, 05:12:48 PM »
Apologies to any Don Gillis fans! I should, of course, have added 'in my opinion' to the 'mediocre' estimation!

(who am I to know anyway? I think the English composer York Bowen was mediocre too but record companies seem to love him these days!)

I like Gillis just fine, when I'm in the mood; he's what Aaron Copland would be if Aaron Copland was Raymond Scott. What I don't like is the repetition of works on those Albany discs; I've got two Symphony 5 and 1/2s, two Encore Concertos, etc. WHY? A trap for the Gillis collector!

BTW: Eric Ewazen would probably appeal a lot more to Hansonites than Gillis would, and there's plenty of Ewazen on Albany. Just be ready to get multiple versions of his Ballade, which has apparently been arranged for every musical combination under the sun. Don't have the rubber-band-and-ski-pole version yet, but I suspect - I dread! - that it's out there.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2008, 08:51:31 PM »
DGG did issue the Piston/Schuman CD a long time back as I have a copy.
That was why I said reissue.....

Offline The new erato

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2008, 08:52:49 PM »
Symphony that has never been issued on CD by DGG is Allan Petterson's 8th Symphony, Baltimore SO, Commissiona.
And obviously yes. i've praised its LP counterpart in the Petterson thread and lamented its nonavailability.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2008, 12:11:18 AM »
That was why I said reissue.....

OK, sorry, I thought you meant the LP.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2008, 12:12:45 AM »
Up late, Jeffrey? Yes, as a mad completist I have bought ALL of the Gillis symphonies on Albany. They are pleasant but sublimely mediocre. Why a reputable company deems it necessary to record his entire orchestral output beggars belief!! :)

I only bought the Dutton CD and no more. I wont be adding any more York Bowen to my collection either.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2008, 12:55:23 AM »
Am listening to Schwarz's Delos CD of Symphony No 4 (in memory of his father) and Lament for Beowulf...a great disc.  The Requiescat from the Symphony must be one of the most moving things written by Hanson. I wonder why the Mercury version of this symphony never made it to CD.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2008, 06:05:18 PM »
I only bought the Dutton CD and no more. I wont be adding any more York Bowen to my collection either.

 :) :)

Offline Martin Lind

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2009, 02:20:32 AM »
I know Schwarz Hanson is praised by many: The Penguins Guide, Grammophone and others. But I don't like it. For example the 2nd symphony with Montgomery on Arte Nova is much better than Schwarz. Schwarz has spectacular sound and faboulus playing. But is this important? With Montgomery the 2nd is a genuine symphony, everything makes sense, it is full of this special romantic charme. There may be even better recordings which I don't know and the Jena Philharmonics are not a top orchestra, but always when I want to hear Hanson, it's always Arte Nova. Schwarz in my view is not able to let the symphony flow. You sometimes realize: This is a transition episode, but Schwarz seems to spell it correctly, the momentum is completely lost, the symphony fells completely apart, as Schwarz never develops any kind of thrust. So I never listen to Schwarz, but to Montgomery, or for the first symphony to Schermerhorn ( Naxos). There is also another recording of the 6th (Landau, Vox Box) I posses but I haven't heard that very often. Other proposals for Hanson?

It is anyway astonishing that Schwarz is praised so loudly by so many, but I know that there are people who share my view. Of course I have not listened to the Schwarz very much, I listened yesterday to the 2nd again ( after Montgomery) but this reconfirmed my view.