It is amazing to realize this is the only integral, complete recording of the American composer Howard Hanson's Symphonies. So much the better that the recordings are, without fail, simply outstanding. The earlier symphonies, especially No. 2, are rather well known, as are several of the additional works presented here, especially the Merry Mount Suite. The later symphonies, less so. This all makes the reward of this set so much the better. As well done as the more familiar works are, moving them to the head of the class, as it were, it is the revelation of the later, less well known works that gives pause. I especially suggest an immediate hearing of the Symphony No. 5. While I know this is subjective, I cannot help suggesting this to be amongst the most beautiful compositions ever written. It is so sublime that, like Mozart, it is hard to imagine it written by the hand of man.
It has been said Howard Hanson was a romantic whose style was tied to the 19th century. If that means he had the ability to write classically structured music in a uniquely American style, full of beauty and overflowing with love and hope, then I say "Hooray!" for those 19th Century ties!
Much credit must be given to conductor Gerard Schwarz for the loving attention he has obviously lavished on these recordings. And for the simply world-class performances offered by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the New York Chamber Symphony.
These wonderful recordings should be universally and permanently available to one and all.
It is shemeful they are not.