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CLASSICAL  March 2007

CLASSICAL March 2007

Subject:

Re: M&V - Hailstork Symphonies

From:

Scott Morrison <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 8 Mar 2007 06:43:13 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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I would add the following, my own review of the
Hailstork symphony recordings, to that submitted
by Keith Bramich. My review appears at
http://www.amazon.com/Hailstork-Symphonies-2-3-Adolphus/dp/B000L42JAO/classi=
calnetA/

5/5 stars

Superb!

Adolphus Hailstork -- what a memorable name! --
is a longtime professor of music at Old Dominion
University in Norfolk, Virginia. He is a prolific
composer but my only previous exposure to his
music was a fine CD of his chamber music on the
Albany label, and it made me eager to hear more.
I was not disappointed with this really quite
excellent current release. It contains
Hailstork's Second and Third Symphonies played
beautifully by the Grand Rapids Symphony under
its music director, David Lockington.

The two symphonies could not be more different:
the Second is entirely serious and the Third,
which is my favorite of the two, is a
lighthearted and altogether lovely work in the
usual four movements. The Third, which comes
first on the CD, begins with a memorable
pentatonic trumpet tune that is treated to a
combination of minimalist and Coplandesque
working-out. (Actually, on reflection, this
movement reminds me a lot of the extroverted
style of Michael Torke's 'Javelin', a particular
favorite of mine.) The second movement is an
extended chorale whose predominant mood is one of
quiet longing. The Scherzo is a melange of tricky
cross-rhythms and sassy percussion; it has a
bluesy middle section which features the odd but
effective combination of marimba, tabla and
glockenspiel. The finale also features dance
rhythms and frequent meter changes. There is a
quiet section with divisi strings and woodwinds,
reminiscent of the second movement, and then the
final section revisits the engaging materials of
the first movement. This is an immediately
appealing albeit extremely sophisticated work
that bids fair, given half a chance, of becoming
a modern American repertoire piece. I hope other
orchestras take it up. I cannot imagine it not
being a huge success wherever it is played,
especially if done with the elan on display in this fine performance.

The Second, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony,
is dramatic in content, having been inspired by
Hailstork's trip to Africa where he saw 'the
dungeons where the slaves were held before being
shipped overseas. I put my reaction to that sad
scene in movement two of the symphony.' Movement
four commemorates the strength and determination
of 'a people who had arrived in America as
slaves.' The sonata-allegro first movement
features stabbing brass chords and ominous
percussion, along with angular string figures. II
features an ineffably sad English horn melody and
an agitated middle section. III has irregular
rhythms, brilliant wind and brass interjections,
and an overall feeling of disquiet. The finale
begins with a solo clarinet in its chalumeau
register connoting a quiet determination. It
alternates with pensive string passages. There is
some agitation but the mood of the piece begins
to become more transparent, more optimistic and
the symphony ends with a song of triumph that yet has ominous reminiscences.

I recommend this CD -- music and performance --
without reservation, and urgently recommend
greater attention be paid to the music of
Adolphus Hailstork, a major composer in our midst.

Scott Morrison

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