Still Afro-American Symphony; Beach Gaelic Symphony
I must say I’ve enjoyed renewing acquaintance with Amy Beach’s fine Gaelic Symphony of 1896, whose nobly elegant progress, sumptuous orchestration and resourceful use of Irish folk melodies ‘of simple, rugged and unpretentious beauty’ (to quote its creator) were relished to the full by Neeme Jarvi and the Detroit SO on their exemplary 1991 Chandos account. Karl Krueger, founder of the Society for the Preservation of the American Musical Heritage (for which he masterminded this pioneering pairing), draws a sturdy, mostly enthusiastic response from the RPO, but he makes damaging cuts in both the opening Allegro con fuoco (why truncate the recapitulation so?) and finale, and it would be foolish to pretend that the performance seriously challenges its digital successor in terms of intoxicating sheen and affectionate sensitivity. The 1968 sound is still pretty vivid but tends to tire the ear after a while.
Fortunately, Krueger makes a far better fist of William Grant Still’s