This is an interesting disc of two attempts at the Great American symphony. Unlike the other reviewer, I think this disc has quite a bit of merit, though I would agree that neither of these pieces IS the Great American Symphony.
The more interesting piece on this disc is the Harris 2nd symphony which the composer suppressed after much difficulties leading up to it's premiere. Conductor Miller has gone back and reinstated all the music that Harris cut at the request of the piece's first conductor.
As it stands here, the piece is 21 minutes of interesting ideas which don't wholely jell. I disagree completely with the other reviewer, however, about the distinctiveness of this music. Anyone who knows Harris' justly famous 3rd Symphony will immediately hear the same fingerprints here. While the melodic material isn't as trenchant as it is in the 3rd, the Harris "sound"--which would be adopted by quite a few composers in the 1940s as a uniquely American sound--is clearly here. And no one else who was writing at that time was writing this way.
Sure, the 2nd symphony doesn't reach the heights of the 3rd, but frankly Harris was a very uneven composer, and little of the music he wrote AFTER the 3rd reached the pinnacle either. So, if you like the Harris sound, you'll want to snap this up, as the only other company likely to approach this music is Naxos, and there's no guarantee they'll produce a complete Harris symphony cycle.
The Gould 3rd symphony is not quite as aurally memorable as the Harris piece, perhaps because Gould here suppresses much of his melodic talent to produce a serious piece. This is rather a mistake, I think, as it renders large bits of the first and last movements as a series of dramatic gestures without real distinction. The middle movements are better with a quiet, serene slow movement being follwed by a rollicking scherzo where the composer's "popular" sound keeps poking its head up. I will listen more to this piece, because I think there are decent things buried beneath the surface, but it clearly isn't a classic.
The Albany symphony and David Alan Miller give solidly professional performances and the sound is great. I did feel, however, that it might have been better if both the conductor and musicians had lived with the music a bit more. There was a certain stiffness to both performances and I thought the Harris, in particular, might have jelled more if the conductor gave more attention to some transitions. Overall, though, if the repertoire intrigues you, you probably should take the plunge because no one else is likely to record either piece.