The Cool, The Cowboyish, The Coy, The Combustible
Ian Hobson, conductor
Morton Gould’s Cowboy Rhapsody uses some of the same material that Aaron Copland worked into his ballet Rodeo, and it’s every bit as entertaining. Why the piece isn’t a pops concert standard is anyone’s guess. The opening of Roy Harris’s Eleventh Symphony, filled with prominent solo piano, is really arresting, and an eventful twenty minutes ensues. Like much late Harris, the piece makes an impression that can only be described as “clunky,” sort of like a modern American Bruckner if you can imagine such a thing, and, like Bruckner, you’ll either like it or hate it. This sympathetic and well-played performance makes an excellent case for the piece.
Cecil Effinger (1914-1990) was based in Colorado, and his Little Symphony No. 2 of 1945 does everything that a work by an appealing minor talent should: it offers charming tunes, skillfully arranged, and leaves you wanting more. On the other hand, Douglas Moore’s Second Symphony (1945) is a work of considerable substance and a gem of American neo-classicism. Attractively scored and full of distinctive ideas (the scherzo is marvelous), it’s played with welcome enthusiasm and freshness by Ian Hobson and the Sinfonia Varsovia.
- David Hurwitz/ClassicsToday.com