*This post does NOT include the Grand Duo-I still have to locate my physical copy of the disc,
and this magnificent symphony I managed to locate on one of my hdd's. The Third Symphony
however, is the main reason to acquire this rare recording; I don't think there's any other available
recordings of it. Also, the symphony I have as a single mp3 file-which really is fine as the movements are rather seamless anyway.
The first movement, Allegro moderato, is stately and dignified. For the most part, the movement is written in two-part contrapuntal lines, with whatever harmony develops being a product of the incidental clashing of these lines. It starts with a bold, ceremonial statement with a faintly East Asian character. The symphony's second subject is slower, with the main contrast between the two subjects being the difference in their moods, for the second subject is meditative and melancholy. The movement ends after the grandest statement of the main theme, followed by another, gentle and wistful on solo strings.
In place of a scherzo is a three-part series of shorter dance pieces honoring three friends of his. The first of these is called "A Reel in Honor of Henry Cowell."
Cowell was a formative influence on Harrison. The original "West Coast Maverick" composer, Cowell taught an extension course on music of the world that reinforced Harrison's great attraction to the various ethnic music he could hear as a youth in San Francisco. One of Harrison's favorite entertainments (and cheap at just a quarter for a whole evening) was Chinese opera. Although the actual fiddle figurations of this piece derive from the Irish reel (and hence honor Cowell, who was of Irish descent), just about everything else in this energetic movement sounds Asian, including the active, metallic clicking in the percussion.
"A Waltz for Evelyn Hinrichsen" acts as a contrasting slow trio in this quasi-scherzo structure. It is a delicate and relaxing piece. The final of the three scherzo movements is called "An Estampie for Susan Summerfield." Harrison has often used the French term "estampie" or an English cognate for it, "stampede," to denote bright, almost aggressive, pieces with a rhythm deriving from the medieval estampie and strong unison melodies.
The third movement, Largo ostinato, opens with a broad-vista sound that suggests fantasy landscape in its bright shafts of trumpet and high flute sonorities. A lovely and lonely high violin theme enters once the bass lines settle down into their ostinato patterns. This is a seemingly endless melody with broad and aching chromatic leaps.
The finale, Allegro, is a strong symphonic conclusion. It is, again, a purely melodically based movement, but this is expressed in multi-part counterpoint comprising several lovely independent lines. The constantly shifting orchestration rises to an exciting moment with bells and other chiming sounds coming forward as the conclusion reaches real grandeur. Enjoy!
1. Symphony No. 3: Allegro Moderato
2. Symphony No. 3: A Reel in Honor of Henry Cowell
3. Symphony No. 3: A Waltz for Evelyn Hinrichsen
4. Symphony No. 3: An Estampie for Susan Summerfield
5. Symphony No. 3: Largo Ostinato
6. Symphony No. 3: Allegro