ALBERT HURWIT: Symphony No. 1 “Remembrance” — Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Michael Lankester — MSR Classics

by | Sep 13, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

ALBERT HURWIT: Symphony No. 1 “Remembrance” — Bulgarian
National Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Michael Lankester — MSR Classics MS
1134, 58:59 ****:

This is the first recorded composition by Hurwit (and a world
premiere), who was a radiologist until he retired in 1986 and began to
devote himself to composition in spite of having had only limited
musical training. After first composing a short Adagio for the Hartford
CT Symphony, he was encouraged by its conductor Michael Lankester to
expand the piece into a full symphony, and the conductor assisted
Hurwit in the major task.  It has become the third movement of his
First Symphony.

The deeply affecting work concerns the plight of the younger
generations of various ethnic groups who separate from their elders to
seek freedom from persecution in distant lands. The first movement of
the four-movement symphony is subtitled Origins, and describes the
emotional situation of the composer’s ancestors in migrating from
Prague to Russia. Movement II is Separation.  The pogroms of the
late 1800s are the historical connection here. Violent music represents
the Cossacks on horseback terrorizing the villagers. There is a respite
as the family again shares some of their songs and dances. A small
klezmer band joins the orchestra for this section of the work.

Movement III is Remembrance and the original Adagio which voices the
terrible sadness of the family in its first theme. The second theme
represents compassion and love.  The movement ends with a feeling
that the family will somehow survive.  The final movement is
subtitled Arrival.  It portrays the long ocean voyage and final
arrival in America, where the family hopes to find freedom and
safety.  The symphony is written in a very direct and almost naive
style, which somehow makes it all the more affecting and emotional in
effect.  The performance and sound could not be faulted. 
Let’s hope some American orchestras put Mr. Hurwit’s affecting symphony
on their concert programs; I’m sure it would be well-accepted.

— John Sunier

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