HAROLD SCHIFFMAN (b.1928): Symphony No. 2 "Music for Györ", Ninnerella Variata, Variations on "Branchwater" for Guitar and Orchestra, Blood Mountain Suite, Overture to a Comedy.
Catalogue Number: 07L087
Reference: N/S R 1050
Description: Like the attractive concertos we offered in April last year, these are genial, thoroughly approachable tonal works in a comfortable post-romantic mold. The four-movement symphony is a tribute to the city and orchestra of Györ, and consists of a breezy opening movement, an atmospheric slow movement with a certain architectural quality, a lively scherzo and a flowing finale. Throughout, a central-European feeling is evident - Smetana, with a bit of Kodaly and Bartók. The two attractive sets of variations gently explore the lyrical implications of original themes by the composer, the first a lullaby, the second a delightfully familiar-sounding made-up folk tune first presented by the solo guitar. Blood Mountain is an orchestral transcription of the composer's song cycle of the same name with the vocal part here incorporated into the orchestral texture. The work has a clear narrative thread even without the texts, and a sense of atmospheric historical Americana. The lively overture is most of what exists of an uncompleted opera, and incorporates some Stravinskyan pungency alongside ironic sentimentality, suggesting a glimpse of the character of the story. Katalin Koltai (guitar) Györ Philharmonic Orchestra; Mátyás Antal.