American Classics - Hadley: Symphony No 4, The Ocean, Etc

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Henry Kimball Hadley (1871-1937) came from a highly musical Massachusetts family and showed considerable compositional promise early in his life (he completed his first opera at age 17). A major figure in Hadley's development was George Chadwick, with whom he studied counterpoint and composition before continuing his musical education in Vienna. Hadley's music shows an accomplished technique and, as with that of many American composers of his generation, it bears heavy European influence (though in Hadley's case, it also contains occasional traces of his home soil). The Ocean, composed between 1920 and 1921, is as atmospheric as its title suggests, displaying Hadley's skill at evocative orchestration. The musical language sounds at first to be purely impressionistic, but further along there are indications of the German post-romantic style, especially Zemlinsky. The Culprit Fay (1908) revels in the pre-impressionist sounds of Paul Dukas (La Peri comes to mind) as it relates Drake's fairy-tale poem.

It's surprising that Hadley's Symphony No. 4, composed three years later, sounds stylistically like a much earlier work, with roots firmly planted in the 19th century. The four movements act as a musical compass, describing the four regions of the globe: North portrays the frigid artic regions in terse declamations reminiscent of Richard Strauss' Macbeth; East is spiced by "oriental" modes and colors; South, the most "American"-sounding movement, captures that region's flavor with the use of ragtime melodies; and West combines adventurous "outdoors" music with Native American melodies and rhythms in a movement that not surprisingly brings to mind Dvorak's New World Symphony. This is really fine music and you can't help but wonder how it all but disappeared from modern concert programs. But if it had received anything like the wholly persuasive and committed (as well as enjoyable) performances provided by John McLaughlin Williams and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, it certainly shouldn't have. This team once again has put together an irresistibly fresh and rewarding program, and Naxos has captured it all in fine sound.
--Victor Carr Jr.,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8559064

  • UPC: 636943906422

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Henry Hadley

  • Conductor: John McLaughlin Williams

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra