Poor Roy Harris -- we always hear how Shostakovich is a great Russian composer who was opposed by the Comunist leadership, but in fact he got a lot more promotion from his government than Harris got from his. Harris had solid "American" credentials -- born on Lincoln's Birthday in a log cabin, etc. -- but was mercilessly persecuted during the McCarthy era for his wartime dedication of his Fifth Symphony to the Red Army (our ally at the time) and it seems he never overcame it. To top that off, the musical establishment either ridiculed him as too "old fashioned" (translation: tonal music during the 50s) or held his success during the 30s against him. Here, then, is a composer whose style and history parallels that of Shostokovich without garnering the respect the latter holds today. Perhaps his music is not of the same quality, but I personally believe that not to be the case. These performances are of surprisingly high quality and the same goes for the recording. I urge anyone who considers themself a fan of American music to sample this. One cannot claim to be knowledgeable about American symphonic music and not know these works. At the same time, it is a shame that there apparently is not a complete recorded traversal of Harris symphonies.
In case it wasn't clear, this is highly recommended. Harris's Third Symphony is still available in several classic recordings; if you are familiar with that and like it, you will like this as well. These same forces have recently tackled the Second Symphony (in a spectacular recording) and there are current recordings of the 4th (not in the same league, in my opinion), 5th, 6th, and 7th (perhaps the finest of the symphonies yet recorded). Harris continued composing symphonies up until the American Bicentennial, but his "liberal" philosophy probably contributed to the damning reviews the later works received. I hope to hear them all someday.