Monday, September 07, 2009

Strong, American in exile

George Templeton Strong (1856-1948) is yet another lost (grand)master, and kudos to Naxos for devoting a series of CD's to him. This CD is the one I actually have, but I intend to explore the others as well, so great is the music. Strong studied in Leipzig and counted Liszt and Wagner amongst his friends. After a brief stay in New England he returned to Europe, never to return to his fatherland. Not surprisingly, there is nothing American about his compositions, which are rooted firmly in the tradition of the aforementioned composers, as well as hints of Mahler and Richard Strauss. This CD shows off his mastery of melody and orchestral colours, in particular in the extensive 40 minutes Straussian tone poem Le Roi Athur, which took him over 15 years to complete (1890-1916). The other composition is extremely worthwhile as well: Die Nacht, a suite of four short tone poems, composed in 1913. The unfamiliar repertoire is played with great panache by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra under Adriano. The notes in the booklet are extensive and informative, as we have come to expect from this label. An essential disc for lovers of late romantic symphonic music.