Op.51/ No. 7, Op.80 – Albany Symphony Orchestra/David Alan Miller
Albany Records TROY 771/72 (2 CDs) ****:
Vincent Persichetti was born in Philadelphia in 1915. His life –
musical and otherwise – centered on that “artistically nutritious
city.” Composer, administrator, conductor, author and sculptor,
Persichetti epitomized “multi tasking” before it became popular
Persichetti is one of 20th century America’s finest composers.
Following a rich trove of chamber music, Persichetti turned to
the symphony for more powerful expression. The third,
fourth and seventh symphonies included here, span the years 1942
The 3rd symphony was referred to by the composer as a “war
piece…dark and inhibited”. Declamatory statements for brass,
lyrical string writing, stormy percussion and lovely wind writing,
reflect the personality of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene
Three years after the 3rd came the 4th Symphony, a graceful, more
formal and sprightly-almost Haydnesque work. The characteristic
declamatory brass and the confident use of percussion is
present along with nimble lyrical string writing.
The 7th Symphony, “Liturgical,” is a more serious work. Inspired
by the second volume of his Hymns and Responses for the Church
Year, this is a one movement work divided into five sections. Sadness,
reservation and a sense of conviction are pervasive qualities.
Persichetti, a master of orchestral composition, is brilliant in his
use of instrumental combinations. He has an uneering sense of proper
orchestral balance. There are echos of Roy Harris and William Schuman,
but Persichetti’s music yields no quality points to these luminaries.
The performances by the Albany Symphony Orchestra under its Music
Director, David Alan Miller, are very fine. Remembering a live
Philadelphia Ormandy performance of the Persichetti 4th, I cannot
praise the Albany performance more than by comparing it favorably
The reputation of the Troy Savings Banker Music Hall as a special
recording venue is well known and bourne out by these Albany
recordings, which present a most natural balance, transparency and
sweetness of sound.
These recordings motivate to me to soon visit Albany for a
first-hand experience. This is excellent American symphonic music
with committed creative performances, very well recorded, and most
– Ronald Legum