Review; Hanson; Symphony No. 6, Symphony No, 7, Lumen in Christo

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State of the art Howard Hanson peformances, another volume reissued from the Delos cycle that set the standard for Hanson’s orchestral repertoire. Your interest in them will depend entirely on your feelings about Hanson — if you like him, you should have him.

Hanson was an important educator and conductor, a notable but second tier composer. His orchestral sound comes out of the Romantic tradition of Vaughan Williams and especially Sibelius, but his handling of materials, while entirely professional, doesn’t have the innovation or even the surprise that comes from hearing a familiar voice say something strange, a quality that those two great composers showed in their body of work. He lays out and develops themes with clarity, the music is enjoyable without having great weight, and his emotional expression is slightly wan. He’s like Kundera, and I want Dostoevsky. Still, fine American music, and essential for Hanson fans.

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