Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra; Akeo Watanabe, conductor
Music 1957 was composed in Tokyo during the composer’s residence of several months in Japan. The ten-minute work might be described as an improvisational overture in which Cowell follows his course of combining “the familiar and the new.” Melodic episodes of a simple folk character, mainly Celtic in atmosphere, alternate with exotic passages of extraordinary delicacy and originality. Special coloristic effects result from a subtle use of the celesta and the inclusion among the percussion instruments of bells, five anvils, and five tom-toms. The work has great rhythmic vitality, especially in the latter half of the piece, which is largely based on a metric unit of four and one-half beats.
Robert Kelly’s Symphony No. 2 was finished October 2, 1958, and is a colorful and dramatic work of broad dimensions. It derives its motivation from a passage in Genesis;
While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, . . . Summer and winter, . . . Shall not cease.
The four movements of the symphony bear the headings, 1. Intense and Energetic (seedtime), 2. Calm (summer), 3. Festive (harvest), 4. Dirge (winter). A program note furnished by the composer supplies the emotional key to the work. “As the seed is nurtured by the elements, similarly this symphony takes shape and develops. In the first movement is the force of expansion reaching a climax where violence and turmoil are transformed into beauty and splendor. The second and third movements are the result of this growth. In the final movement is the force of contraction, symbolizing death, and return to the seed.”
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