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Harris's 13th

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Author Topic: Harris's 13th  (Read 1760 times)
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« on: March 16, 2013, 04:12:28 pm »

In Lp days,I always used to pick up the needle & move it to the fun organ bits. I was convinced Dr Phibes was playing the organ,but on second thoughts,he probably would have better taste!The exotic melody is dragged out,seemingly endlessly,almost to the point of dissonance. Ouch! I And then there's that wierd 'Oompah! Oompah! accompaniment at one point,almost syncopated. I did like those bits when I was a youngster,I'll admit. But Khatchaturian's First & Second got the most playtime.
It's still better than Harris's tenth or thirteenth,in a horrible,over the top,lurid kind of way. It seems to epitomise all the worst excesses of the Soviet regimes bad taste;although,to be fair to them,they probably saved the masses from acts like tatu & the Cheeky girls! Worse was to come,later,from the decadent West! Grin

On a purely musical level,Khatchaturian's third is a disappointment,though. The Second Symphony has it's excesses,but there are moments of poignancy,amidst all the bombast. No 1,has a sweep & grandeur to it. I only wish they would release the marvellous RCA Red Seal Tjeknavorian performance on cd. (Not to be confused with his scrappy ASV revisit)

I just remembered,Kabalevsky's third symphony is subtitled a 'Requiem for Lenin'. It's on the Cpo symphonies set. I must have another listen. I seem to remember it's quite a subtle propaganda effort in comparison to Khatchaturian's third. (I must put their recent Piano Concertos set on my shopping list!).

Try as I might,I just can't think of any symphonist who has fallen as far as Harris! There must be someone!!! Although,not wanting to upset his many admirers,I do find Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony embarassingly pretentious & with the best will in the world,devoid of any musical merit,whatsoever!. If it was by anyone except dear old Lenny,I don't think anyone with any good taste would have bothered with it! Roy Harris,eat you're heart out!! Maybe,if you'd been able to write musicals & been a famous conductor,you would have got away with it? Absolutely awful!!! Shocked Shocked Not that there have been that many recordings or performances,but the way some of his admirers go on about it. I could say the same for a couple of his other concert pieces,too.......but I won't! Not here,anyway!! Give me Roy Harris,at his best, (the composer) any day,whatever his faults!
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