Monday, April 24, 2017

Mennin, Peter. (1923-1983) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 25-10-2012.
Second listen: 1-11-2012.
Third listen: 24-4-2017.
Label: Naxos.
Previously released on Delos.
Recording dates: November 1994 & January 1995.
Recording venue: Seattle Opera House, USA.
Recording engineers: John Eargle & Al Swanson.
Running time: 57:37.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:
Moby Dick, Concertato for Orchestra.
Symphony No 3 & 7.

Works performed by:
Seattle Symphony, Gerald Schwarz.

This music will not be to everybody's liking. Not that it is bad music, but it's austerity is a constant element, and I feel that the technical accomplishment is by far greater as the emotional content. This would certainly fit to the seventh symphony, quite modern with some striking dissonances, and wayward notes to unsettle you. There are moments of great beauty, but they are short in measure. His musical rhetoric is certainly sober and intense which in turn can be perfectly fitted to the Concertato and the third symphony, in its structure both works are easier to grasp. My feeling is of a rather complex orchestrator, which by definition does not necessarily mean that there is also emotional impact. There are long stretches of spiritual coherence, but brutality is never far away, I guess that this is his austere passion and abstract message. Whether you will like what you hear or not is a question of sampling the music. Carefully crafted scores? Well yes they are, but nevertheless the Seventh symphony left me rather cold, although I admired his orchestral skills. If you like sober rhetoric music with some powerful statements, Mennin is the man to go for.
The recording is rather good, although a bit dark in the lower instruments, a little more brightness might have lifted the more austere moments above board.
The fact that he wrote nine symphonies is a tantalizing thought, and I must admit that I am rather curious after them,.... and at the same time not.
The performances are superb.



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