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Overall I found a composer who has a wonderful touch in colour and orchestration, and who writes with a textural clarity which is a joy to hear in modern music. What I missed was a symphonic sense of drama and climax, the ability to take an idea by the neck and work it to a logical end point. Hailstork's fecundity of ideas tends to work against rather than for him.

But let it be said that (arguably) the most difficult area for a composer to work in is tonal art music, the weight of history bears heavy and it is all to easy for composers in this field to get discouraged, so hats off to Hailstork and his ilk for keeping the flame alive and seeking new paths through an old jungle.

And all kudos to Naxos too for getting this on disc: they deliver a clear, well-balanced recording to match the clean textures of the music. Lockington and the Grand Rapids Symphony are for the most part right on the ball, clean and clear, at times almost clinical rather than emotionally charged perhaps, but they sound completely at ease with the idiom [listen -- track 8, 11:05-12:59].

Even if you don't know it (and the guardians of current musical acceptability don't want you to know it), there are many composers like Hailstork who write hearable, followable music without gimmicks or pretension, and were it not for discs like this we would not even know many of them exist. Many listeners will delight in this, but it has to be said that in this instance repeated listenings will be very much a matter for the individual.

Copyright © 8 March 2007 Paul Sarcich, London UK


Hailstork: Symphonies Nos 2 and 3

8.559295 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 77'32" 2007 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Grand Rapids Symphony; David Lockington, conductor

Adolphus Hailstork (born 1941): Symphony No 3 (Vivace; Moderato; Scherzo; Finale: moderato); Symphony No 2 (Allegro; Grave; Allegro con brio; Adagio - Allegro)


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