Mennin: Symphony No.3 / Piano Concerto / Symphony No.7 (FLAC)
Mennin: Symphony No.3 / Piano Concerto / Symphony No.7 (FLAC)

Composer: Peter Mennin
Performer: John Ogdon
Orchestra: New York Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Walter Simmons, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Igor Buketoff, Jean Martinon
Audio CD
SPARS Code: ADD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Composers Recordings
Size: 335 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. 1. Symphony No. 3: I – Allegro robusto
02. 2. Symphony No. 3: II – Andante moderato
03. 3. Symphony No. 3: III – Allegro assai
04. 1. Piano Concerto: I – Maestoso
05. 2. Piano Concerto: II – Adagio Religioso
06. 3. Piano Concerto: III – Allegro Vivace
07. 1. Symphony No. 7 “Variation Symphony”: I – Adagio
08. 2. Symphony No. 7 “Variation Symphony”: II – Allegro
09. 3. Symphony No. 7 “Variation Symphony”: III – Andante
10. 4. Symphony No. 7 “Variation Symphony”: IV – Moderato
11. 5. Symphony No. 7 “Variation Symphony”: V – Allegro Vivace

# Symphony No. 3
Composed by Peter Mennin
Performed by New York Philharmonic
Conducted by Walter Simmons, Dimitri Mitropoulos

# Concerto for piano & orchestra
Composed by Peter Mennin
Performed by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
with John Ogdon
Conducted by Igor Buketoff

# Symphony No. 7 “Variation-Symphony”
Composed by Peter Mennin
Performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Jean Martinon

The essential Mennin CD

My first acquaintance with Mennin’s music was in listening to the LP version of this performance of the Symphony No. 7, with Martinon conducting his own symphony on the flip side. I must admit I picked the LP up in the bargain rack, based on my familiarity with Martinon as a conductor and being interested in what his music would sound like. The Martinon symphony was very good but I remember hearing the Mennin symphony and thinking WOW! I had been familiar with the Mennin Piano Sonata, which my piano teacher had played in a recital and which hadn’t made much of an impression on me (I have since bought the recording by Myron Silberstein on Naxos and learned to like it) but the Symphony No. 7 blew me away, as well it might. It’s probably Mennin’s most dramatic and impressive piece (except perhaps for the “Cantata di virtute” which you can hear on YouTube but which has not been professionally recorded, to my knowledge). Mennin was a fluent composer, though not particularly prolific (administrative duties, as head of the Peabody and Juilliard among other music schools, took up a lot of his time), and sometimes his music seems to fall victim to his fluency–‘all dressed up and no place to go’–but the Seventh is cogent and the drama has point. As for the piano concerto, I’ve always been a sucker for this particular art form, and it’s particularly suited to Mennin’s flair for the dramatic. John Ogdon gives a coruscating performance (I had the pleasure of hearing him play, live, his own Piano Concerto before his career came to its untimely end), and at the amazingly bravura conclusion of the last movement, one can almost hear the audience rising up in a screaming standing ovation. Mennin’s Symphony No. 3 is the music that ‘put him on the map’ (finished on his 24th birthday!) and how lucky he was to get a performance recorded under the direction of Mitropoulos, one of the two or three greatest 20th century conductors of 20th century music. Mennin has been dismissed as one of the group of mid-century U.S. symphony writers (including also Persichetti, Schuman, Piston) which has fallen out of fashion and whose works don’t appear, much, on symphony orchestra programs (particularly unfortunate in Mennin’s case as a great deal of his music was written for symphony orchestra). These pieces, however, are all tremendously exciting–more so, in my opinion, than the music of the other three composers named above) and they make a direct appeal to the emotions. If you are not unutterably opposed to twentieth-century music (and this music is no more ‘difficult’ than, say, the film music accompanying some car chase or some fight in the boxing ring), you should give this CD a space in your collection.

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