SCHUMAN Credendum. Symphony No. 4. Piano Concerto. PERSICHETTI Symphony No. 4. LEES Passacaglia. DAUGHERTY Hell’s Angels. Symphony No. 3, “Philadelphia Stories”

W. SCHUMAN Credendum. Symphony No. 4. Piano Concerto · David Alan Miller, cond; Albany SO; John McCabe (pn)· ALBANY TROY-566 (64:54)

PERSICHETTI Symphony No. 4. LEES Passacaglia. DAUGHERTY Hell’s Angels. Symphony No. 3, “Philadelphia Stories” (Sundown on South Street) · James DePreist, cond; Oregon SO; Bassoon Brothers· DELOS DE-3291 (61:24)

The two recent releases discussed here are united by a particular fact-tangential, perhaps, to some, but quite relevant to most serious collectors: The two most important works-Schuman’s Credendum and Persichetti’s Fourth Symphony-have each been recorded but once before, by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. More to the point, these two recordings-originally released during the mid 1950s-were reissued in 1998 on a single Albany CD (TROY-276). During their long history of recording for Columbia Masterworks and, later, RCA, Ormandy and his orchestra produced a goodly number of remarkably dull, if technically accomplished, performances. So the question becomes: How do these newly-recorded performances compare with the 50-year-old Philadelphia efforts? 

The unheralded appearance of these two recordings draws attention to another point as well: The modern American symphonic school represented by Schuman and Persichetti (not to mention Peter Mennin, Benjamin Lees, David Diamond, and others), which reached its pinnacle during the 1950s, seems to be in severe eclipse since the early 1990s, while the neo-romantic American symphonic school represented by Barber, Hanson, Creston et al. has enjoyed a considerable revival of interest during recent years. Perhaps the reason for this is that the lyrical melody and rich harmony of the latter group make their music readily accessible to the many general listeners who enjoy composers like Strauss and Rachmaninoff. The works of Schuman and the other symphonic modernists, on the other hand-though oriented around a tonal center, and articulated according to traditional notions of motivic development-exhibit a higher level of dissonance and harder-edged sonorities, making them as forbidding to many listeners as the music of the atonalists. 

William Schuman (1910-1992) did not discover classical music until late in his teens, and did not decide to become a serious composer until he reached adulthood. Studying with Roy Harris during the mid 1930s, when the Oklahoman was gaining great renown as a major force in the forging of an American symphonic style, Schuman displayed in his early compositions many of the traits associated with his mentor. During the 1940s, as his own musical personality emerged, through the 1950s, and into the 60s he was recognized as a leading figure among America’s symphonic modernists, and, in a sense, Schuman came to represent the spirit of post-World War II America. During his formative years he had developed an optimistic, Dewey-based belief in progressive education that represented the cutting edge of pedagogical thinking in America during the middle third of the 20th century. Not only did his own music exude this positivist mentality, but his career, like that of so many other bright, ambitious young men during the post-war period, ascended rapidly, as he went from director of publications at G. Schirmer to president of the Juilliard School at age 35, to founding president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (a term he coined) at 52.

Schuman’s best works reveal a unique musical personality characterized by a brash, exuberant, but hard-edged optimism, balanced by a deep, solemn contemplativeness, defining one of the most eloquent creative voices of his generation-a voice that is distinctively and unmistakably American, without recourse to vernacular references. The most distinctive features of his musical language include the offsetting of instrumental choirs in distinct textural planes; a highly expressive use of polytonality; long, flowing, yet angular melodic lines; jagged, brittle gestures; and breathlessly nervous, irregular rhythms, often in intensely contrapuntal interaction. However, Schuman’s compositional output is marked by some unevenness with regard to expressive urgency, or “inspiration.” Some pieces strike one as a succession of familiar devices and effects punctuating long, barren expanses.

In his personal manner Schuman was rather like the CEO of a large corporation, displaying boundless enthusiasm and creative energy. As he aged, he became even more polished and “presidential” in his affable self-assurance and his gift for spontaneous public utterance. So there is something appropriate about his being commissioned in 1954 by the United States government to write a symphonic work in honor of UNESCO. This was a very fertile period for Schuman as a composer, and the work he completed the following year, which he called Credendum, is, in many ways, a quintessential statement-not just in capturing what John Proffitt has described as the composer’s “humanistic faith in the power of Education, Science, and Culture to shape mankind for the better,” but also as an expression of educated post-war America’s view of what our arts should address.

Not only is Credendum one of Schuman’s most characteristic orchestral compositions, but it is also perhaps the easiest of his major works to appreciate, making it an ideal point of entry into his output as a whole. The work is in three connected sections: the first, “Declaration,” is brash and brassy, assertive and declamatory, with bold percussion punctuations and nervous, syncopated rhythms; the second section, “Chorale,” is based on a solemn-even poignantly sad and longing-hymn melody introduced by the strings-one of the most beautiful melodies Schuman ever wrote. The mood of the music is broadened through a series of clearly-defined variations; “Finale” is fast, based largely on material heard earlier, with irregular rhythmic patterns (and string pizzicati that many will recognize from subsequent works by Leonard Bernstein), polytonal harmony, searing counterpoint, and cumulative pyramid effects, all culminating in an affirmation of unashamed grandiloquence.

The Philadelphia performance of Credendum is solid and powerful, although the work displays neither the subtlety nor the complexity that would make it a major interpretive challenge. The Albany Symphony, currently under the charismatic leadership of David Alan Miller, has been pursuing a mission to document many of the major works of the American symphonic repertoire. Their freshly-recorded account of Credendum supplies the necessary power and precision, incisively projecting the work’s sharply-chiseled counterpoint. Only the rather scrawny-sounding string section causes one to miss “the Philadelphia sound.”

If “grandiloquent” is a word that can be applied to many works by William Schuman, it is virtually never applicable to music by Vincent Persichetti, a master of aphorism, small-scale structures, and lightness of touch. Unlike Schuman, Mennin, and many other American composers of that generation, Persichetti did not use the symphonic genre as the medium for his most significant or characteristic musical statements, although he did compose the obligatory nine (of which-as with Schuman and Mennin as well-the first two were withdrawn). Although the Fifth (for strings), Sixth (for band), and Ninth (for full orchestra) are masterpieces, Persichetti’s symphonies are far from the soul-baring, angst-ridden post-romantic prototype. James H. North has called Persichetti “a twentieth-century Haydn,” and no work could exemplify this more than the Symphony No. 4 of 1951, in many ways the consummate neo-classical symphony. The work is virtually devoid of what we think of as “drama,” lightly and transparently scored throughout, rarely rising above a mezzo-forte. As in so many Haydn symphonies, Persichetti’s Fourth opens with a slow, solemn introduction that proves to be the weightiest music of the entire work. This is followed by a lively allegro, which bounces along with a playful, joyful exuberance. The second movement is a gently wistful and deceptively simple burlesque, the third a gracious and whimsical intermezzo, while the finale is a brilliant whirlwind in perpetual motion, masterfully recalling most of the work’s thematic material with a joie de vivre that is irresistibly exhilarating.

Unfortunately little of the foregoing is suggested by Jim Svejda’s program notes (I would have expected more from him), which simply pass along the desiccated information that appears in any reference book, preparing the reader for a dull visit to academia. James DePreist, who studied with Persichetti years ago, has been a devoted advocate of the Fourth Symphony for some time, and I have long admired his musicianship, so I approached this opportunity to hear another perspective on the work with great eagerness. Therefore it pains me deeply to have to report his performance as rather disappointing. True, his slower tempos in the outer movements, along with the clear, transparent recording, reveal considerably more contrapuntal detail than can be heard in the venerable Philadelphia rendition. But the joie de vivre to which I referred is dampened to a great degree. This is most sorely the case in the last movement, and it is not only a matter of metronomic tempo: a playful, childlike quality is essential to Persichetti’s aesthetic. Gestures and motifs bounce among different components of the orchestra rather like cartoon characters, and the music has to be played that way-not simply as arithmetic note-values. An analogy might be a comparison between a jazz riff sung by a veteran scat-singer vs. the same notes sight-read by a timid vocal student. In the Philadelphia performance, the virtuoso orchestra breezes and swings with effortless effervescence, while one can almost see theOregon musicians counting out the rhythms.

As suggested earlier, the aesthetic values implicit in the music of Benjamin Lees place him among the traditionalist moderns like Schuman et al., although Lees’s music doesn’t usually resemble his or anyone else’s. His works are typically serious-minded, solidly crafted, and thoroughly musical, though rarely ingratiating or overtly visceral in appeal. His 12-minute Passacaglia of 1976 is a representative example-severe in tone, traditional in style and form, yet tonal only in a literal sense. Pressing forward with a grim inevitability, the work is satisfying as an abstract musical narrative, and is played here with precision and conviction.

Clearly the disc’s main emphasis is on the two selections by Michael Daugherty, the not-quite-50-year-old composer from Iowa, now in residence at the University of Michigan, who has garnered considerable attention for his meretriciously clever pieces with catchy titles (e.g. Le Tombeau de Liberace, an opera Jackie O, and pieces based on comic-strips like Superman)-in short, the sort of thing that one would expect to be anathema to composers like Lees. “Sundown on South Street” is the opening movement of Daugherty’s Third Symphony, subtitled Philadelphia Stories. It is an infectious, exciting piece, nicely elaborated and developed, in a language that recalls the modern jazz-influenced film and TV scores of Henry Mancini from the late 1950s and early 60s. One can well imagine a piece like this becoming a hit on symphony concert programs, in their desperate attempt to reach younger, hipper listeners. I’d like to hear the rest of the symphony.

Less successful is Daugherty’s Hell’s Angels, a sort of one-movement concerto for bassoon quartet and orchestra. Capitalizing on the concertino’s sonorous suggestions of motorcycling, the piece is cut from much the same cloth as Jan Sandström’s more elaborate Motorbike Concerto for trombone and orchestra, composed during the late 1980s and recorded by Christian Lindberg (BIS CD-538). Like the Sandström concerto, Daugherty’s is designed to be a cleverly entertaining novelty, drawing upon rock music and utilizing theatrical elements, all handled with a light touch. Yet despite the effort to create a “fun piece,” I found it surprisingly resistant to attentive listening.
Returning now to the Schuman disc, we come to the Symphony No. 4 (1941-42). This work and its successor have always been “sleepers” in the Schuman canon, falling between the excitingly extroverted No. 3 and the abstract, brilliantly complex No. 6. A mediocre recording of No. 4 by the Louisville Orchestra under Jorge Mester from around 1970 was rather unconvincing. Miller/Albany provide a more incisive reading, but much of the piece continues to strike me as second-rate. Still in evidence are Harris’s incessant parallelisms (but that’s not why I dislike it; Schuman’s Third reveals even more traces of Harris, yet I still find it a marvelous work). The first movement lacks a strong profile, while the third is rambling and discursive, though unmistakably Schuman in every measure. The second movement looms above the rest of the work, with an elegantly dignified, reflective beauty. 

Schuman’s Piano Concerto (1943) is another “sleeper,” this sort of concertante writing not so much a part of his personality. First performed by Rosalyn Tureck (!), the work has been rarely played since then. Uncharacteristically neo-classical in effect, the outer movements are lean in texture, and brusque, acerbic, and feisty in character, with none of the grandiosity so central to Schuman’s mature compositional personality. The slow movement is again the high point of the work, with moments of haunting, poignant contemplation. The English pianist and composer John McCabe fulfills the solo role with considerable conviction, although I find the piano miked a bit too far in the background. Gary Steigerwalt was equally convincing in his 1978 recording on a Turnabout LP, but the Albany Symphony far surpasses the MIT Symphony Orchestra featured on the earlier recording. 

HANSON: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 6; Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth

HANSON: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 6; Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth. Carol Rosenberger. piano; Gerard Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the New York Chamber Symphony. DELOS DE-3092 [DDDJ;68:35. Produced by Amelia S. Haygood.

It looks as though Howard Hanson’s time has really arrived. This is the fourth all-Hanson CD to appear before me during the past year or so. and the second release in Gerard Schwarz’s complete traversal of the symphonies. I understand that its predecessor. featuring the “Nordic” and “Romantic” Symphonies. has become a best-seller; I know that my review (Fanfare 13:2. pp. 228-31) was the most critical of any I read. and I placed the disc on last year’s Want List. And now Philips has begun to reissue the composer’s own Eastman performances on mid-priced CDs. starting with the “Nordic” and the “Romantic”. Let me comment, in passing, that those composer-conducted performances. most of which originally appeared during the 1950s. are excellent renditions, as well as landmarks of recording technology. Listeners who are new to Hanson and are interested in saving a few dollars or are inclined toward “composer-authenticated” performances are assured that there is no reason to avoid those reissues. On the other hand. older listeners who know the Hanson symphonies primarily through the Eastman performances will welcome the perspective offered by Schwarz’s fresh new interpretations, as well as the increased richness and depth of the sonic aspect.

The Symphony No.3, Hanson’s most extended essay in the form, was written during the late 1930s and is a representative example of the composer at the height of his powers — a much stronger, fully dimensional work than the overplayed “Romantic” Symphony. Written in commemoration of the first Swedish settlement in this country, it is the most obviously Sibelian of Hanson’s symphonies, its moments of dark, austere solemnity often calling the Finnish master to mind. Yet the familiar Hanson traits are abundantly evident as well: flowing modal counterpoint, throbbing melodies surging through the baritone and tenor registers of the orchestra, radiant chorales, lively rhythmic ostinatos, all orchestrated to brilliantly colorful effect. There is a strong spiritual undercurrent to the symphony as well — a statement of courage and fortitude in the face of adversity, supported by a simple, straightforward reliance on faith, hope, and trust. Such wholesome Protestant sentiments could easily result in music of banal, mawkish cheerfulness. However, the power of Hanson’s earlier works lies in the unabashed hyperbole of their gestures, the unstinting lavishness of their orchestration, and, most of all, their sincere fervor and conviction.

Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth is a 1951 composition for piano and strings based on a melancholy passage from Hanson’s Concerto da Camera (1917) for piano and string quartet. During the late 1940s Hanson began to “cool off” somewhat. Though he never abandoned either tonality or romanticism, he did temper the ever-throbbing ardor somewhat, stepping back to permit a bit of detachment, and emphasizing crisper, drier orchestral timbres. One of Hanson’s most thoroughly satisfying works, Fantasy Variations calls to mind Ernest Bloch’sConcerto Grosso No. 1 in its vigor and clarity of texture and sonority, as well as in its warm, romantic core.

The Symphony No.6 (1967) is a fascinating work — though perhaps more for its historical role than for its intrinsic musical value. Hanson, then in his early seventies, was one of the composers commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate its 125th anniversary, presumably to honor his half-century of dedication to the cause of American music, rather than to honor his compositional gifts, which were then held in remarkably low esteem. Like Giannini’s Medead, Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, and Flagello’s Symphony No.1, Hanson’s Sixth is a major, large-scale assertion of traditional romantic values and techniques, created during the single decade of this century when such an aesthetic was least acceptable to the classical music establishment — a period when Leonard Bernstein felt compelled to write an essay to justify — or apologize for — the composition of a straightforward, accessible work like the Chichester Psalms. Within this climate such music represented, at least to some extent, a self-conscious gesture of defiance. “A small, intimate soul surviving in the framework of cynicism and strife,” was Hanson’s own interpretation of his symphony.

The work comprises six short movements, played without pause. Apart from its central Adaqio — a typically Hansonian outpouring of full-breathed lyricism — the symphony is cool in tone, dry in sonority, stark in gesture, and relatively attenuated in tonality. In fact, its language may surprise those listeners unfamiliar with Hanson’s later music. On the other hand, it is brilliantly orchestrated, with two exciting scherzos, and a triumphant, affirmative finale. Viewed as a succession of episodes in contrasting tempos and moods, perhaps linked by a picturesque or literary association (like the composer’s 1957 Mosaics, for example), the work would be undeniably effective. However, despite the use of a unifying three-note motto, it lacks the qualities of organic development and dialectical continuity essential to the true symphonic form.

All three works are sympathetically interpreted, stunningly performed, and beautifully recorded. I found this to be an even more satisfying release than its predecessor, and it is sure to please those who have been enjoying Schwarz’s Hanson survey.

Picks of the Year: 1994

This year’s Want List offers a feast for those in search of accessible treasures of twentieth-century music. Two releases highlight the achievements of master composers in media for which they enjoyed a special affinity, while the other three bring to light masterpieces that have been hitherto all but unknown. The Barber set (reviewed in [Fanfare]18:1) features the solo vocal output of America’s greatest song composer, including ten that have never been recorded before, in glorious performances that must be termed definitive. The Bloch disc (also reviewed in 18:1) offers the first modern recording of Evocations, possibly the composer’s finest and most representative purely orchestral work, as well as the first recording ever of his last completed composition. The Creston disc (reviewed in this issue) presents the premier recording of his Symphony No. 5, which definitely belongs in the pantheon of great American post-romantic symphonies–forty years after it was written. The Supraphon disc (also reviewed in this issue) contains a reissue of the sole recording ever of The Mystery of Time, by Miloslav Kabelác — one of the most strangely compelling orchestral works to come out of mid-20th-century Europe, which must be heard to be believed. The Persichetti disc (18:1 again) features fine, sympathetic performances of seven less familiar pieces by America’s (if not the world’s) greatest composer of music for winds.

BARBER: Songs (complete). Studer/Hampson/Browning. (DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 435 867-2i two discs)
BLOCH: Evocations; Two Last Poems; Three Jewish Poems. Sedares/New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. KOCH INTERNATIONAL 3-7232-2H1) 
CRESTON: Symphony No. 5; Toccata; Choreografic Suite. Schwarz/Seattle Symphony Orchestra/New York Chamber Symphony (DELOS DE-3127) 
KABELÁCThe Mystery of Time; Hamlet ImprovisationJANACEK: Glagolitic Mass. Ancerl/Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. (SUPRAPHON 11 1930-2 911) PERSICHETTIMusic for Wind Ensemble. Amos/London Symphony Winds. (HARMONIA MUNDI HMU-907092

Picks of the Year: 1992

If I could only pick one recording for the Want List, the Barber disc (reviewed in 15:6) would be it: great performances of two of Barber’s greatest works. I selected the Mercury reissue (reviewed in 15:2 because the Concerti Grossi are two of Bloch’s most lovable pieces, the performances are superb, and the sound is stunning. The third installment of Gerard Schwarz’s Hanson survey (reviewed in 15:3) matches the standard set by its predecessors (each of which appeared on my Want Lists). The Fourth Symphony and the Merry Mount suite are among Hanson’s best music. The two cassettes of Persichetti piano music are worth writing away for (reviewed in 15:3; mailing address given): seventeen pieces not available elsewhere by America’s greatest keyboard composer. I selected the Schuman disc (reviewed in 16:1) because of the fine performance of Judith, perhaps the composer’s greatest work.

BARBER: The Lovers; Prayers of Kierkegaard. Schenck/Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra.   KOCH INTERNATIONAL 3-7125-2H1) 

BLOCH: Concerti Grossi Nos. 1 and 2; Schelomo. Hanson/Eastman-Rochester Orchestra. (MERCURY LIVING PRESENCE 432 718-2)

HANSON: Symphony No. 4; Lament for Beowulf; Merry Mount Suite; Pastorale; Serenade. Schwarz/Seattle Symphony/NY Chamber Symphony. (DELOS DE-3105)

PERSICHETTI: Piano Music. Patterson. (EDUCO 3235/3236 [two cassettes))

SCHUMAN: Judith; Symphony No. 5; New England Triptych; Variations on “America”. Schwarz/Seattle Symphony.   DELOS DE-3115)

Picks of the Year: 1991

I was absolutely captivated by Dawn Upshaw’s recital of 20th-century vocal music reviewed in 14:4, p. 445), and I can’t imagine anyone reacting otherwise. Ernest Bloch’s two piano quintets are among his masterpieces, but have never been paired on recording before. Now, three different versions appear at the same time (reviewed in this issue).   All are excellent, but I’d pick Laurel’s if I had to pick one. Gerald Finzi’s setting of William Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality is probably his most impressive large-scale work reviewed in 14:3, p. 196), and is sure to touch the hearts of all those responsive to early 20th-century English choral music. Nicolas Flagello is my candidate for America’s greatest post-romantic composer, here represented by a generous program of works for piano solo and piano with percussion ensemble (reviewed in the previous issue.)   The Howard Hanson revival continues with the second installment of Gerard Schwarz’s survey of the symphonies (reviewed in 14:3, p. 211); all three works are strong, representative examples of the composer’s output.

BARBER: Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and other vocal music by Harbison, Menotti, and Stravinsky. Upshaw/Zinman/Orchestra of St. Luke’s (Elektra/Nonesuch–9 79187-2).

BLOCH: Piano Quintets Nos. 1 and 2; Cello Suite No. 1.  H. Karp/P. Karp/Pro Arte Quartet. LAUREL LR-848CD.

FINZI: Intimations of Immortality; Grand Fantasia and Toccata.Langridge/Fowke/Hickox/Royal Liverpool Chorus and Orchestra. EMI–CDC7 49913-2.

FLAGELLO: Piano Sonata; Electra; other works. Pierce/Paul Price Percussion Ensemble. PREMIER PRCD-1014.

HANSON: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 6; Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth. Rosenberger/Schwarz/Seattle Symphony Orchestra/New York Chamber Symphony. DELOS DE-3092. 

HANSON: Symphony No. 4, “Requiem”. Suite from “Merry Mount”. Lament for Beowulf. Serenade for Flute, Harp, and Strings. Pastorale for Oboe, Harp, and Strings.

HANSON: Symphony No. 4, “Requiem”. Suite from “Merry Mount”. Lament for Beowulf. Serenade for Flute, Harp, and Strings. Pastorale for Oboe, Harp, and StringsJudith Mendenhall, flute; Randall Ellis, oboe; Susan Jolles, harp; Gerard Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony Chorale and Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony of the 92nd Street Y. DELOS DE-3105 [DDD]; 75:07. Produced by Amelia Haygood and Adam Stern.

Listeners who have enjoyed Gerard Schwarz’s previous explorations into the orchestral music of Howard Hanson will certainly not be disappointed by this latest effort. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fourth Symphony, this new release features four other works, including some of the composer’s best music, performed sympathetically and recorded with all due attention to the richness and brilliance of Hanson’s orchestral palette.

The Fourth, subtitled “Requiem” and dedicated to the memory of the composer’s father, is one of Hanson’s strongest symphonies. It maintains an effective balance between lyrical and dramatic elements, is unified by a couple of interval-based motifs that re-appear in each movement, and is concise and tastefully restrained without overly constricting Hanson’s distinctive emotional flow. That the symphony is more dramatically than developmentally constructed is a weakness common to Hanson’s symphonies, but the work is tight enough not to suffer from it. On the other hand, Schwarz’s characteristically broad, languid approach (more than 20% slower than the composer’s own rendition) is not to the work’s advantage, although it does allow for the blooming of some nice full sonorities.

Merry Mount is Hanson’s sole opera, composed in 1933 and premiered the following year by the Metropolitan Opera Company, with Lawrence Tibbett in the leading role. The work was a great critical and popular success and, as I understand it, the only reason that it was dropped from the repertory after the first season involved power struggles within the Met’s management. Nevertheless, the work went into eclipse and has enjoyed few major performances in the years since. This is unfortunate because it represents Hanson at his best, with throbbing melodies, sumptuous orchestration, exciting dance episodes, and some lovely modal choral passages. The orchestral suite drawn from the opera has been a concert favorite for many years and provides a delicious sample of some of its most memorable music. With no other currently available recording, this ardent and brilliantly colorful reading is most welcome.

The Lament for Beowulf is the earliest work on this release, dating from the 1920s, when Hanson was in Europe on a Prix de Rome. An example of romantic neo-archaism, it is skillfully written for chorus and orchestra, with a stark austerity uncharacteristic of Hanson’s early music. The performance is excellent — breathtaking at times — emphasizing the work’s stoic solemnity without neglecting its more delicate aspects.

The Serenade and Pastorale are short, rather subdued mood-pieces, fairly similar in effect, although the latter is somewhat cooler and drier in tone. Both are well performed here, rounding out a most desirable new release.

W. SCHUMAN: Symphony No. 5; Judith; New England Triptych; Symphony No. 10, “American Muse”; American Festival Overture. IVES/SCHUMAN: Variations on “America”.

SCHUMAN: Symphony No. 5; Judith; New England Triptych.IVES/SCHUMAN: Variations on “America“. Gerard Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. DELOS–DE 3115 [DDDJ; 63:57. Produced by Amelia S. Haygood

SCHUMAN: Symphony No. 10, “American Muse”; New England Triptych; American Festival Overture. IVES/SCHUMAN: Variations on “America”.Leonard Slatkin conducting the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. RCA VICTOR RED SEAL 09026-61282-2 [DDD]; 62:10 Produced by Joanna Nickrenz.

The simultaneous appearance of these two discs will either delight or annoy (or both) the American music enthusiast. Each offers a hearty serving of some major works by the late William Schuman, performed magnificently by forces that have demonstrated a real affinity and commitment to reviving the American orchestral repertoire. But fully one-third of each disc contains overlapping repertoire. Are the Variations on “America” and New England Triptych so indispensable to an all-Schuman disc? Do they really sell more CDs? Even when the prospective purchaser already has them on recording? Is there really no communication among conductors or record company executives? I wonder.

William Schuman has long been held as one of the most important figures in American music — as composer, administrator, educator, and, in his later years, as musical public statesman Yet I have often been surprised by how many listeners — at all levels of sophistication — fail to be engaged by much of his work. Even Edward Rothstein, in a memorial commentary published in the New York Times, wrote of Schuman’s music, “It has passions within it, but it is not music of passion; it contains elements of sentiment, but not of deep feeling. It is never less than professional, but it rarely seems much more.” This assessment fails to do adequate justice to Schuman’s achievement as a composer. However, Schuman’s output is uneven, and those who know only a smattering of works, which means most listeners, Rothstein likely among them, may know the wrong smattering. A number of Schuman’s works do display a cold, mannered, artificial quality that is probably responsible for alienating some listeners. However, his ten or fifteen finest works reveal a unique musical personality characterized by a brash, exuberant but hard-edged optimism, balanced by a deep, solemn contemplativeness, defining one of the most eloquent creative voices of his generation — a voice that is distinctively and unmistakably American, without recourse to vernacular references.

I invite anyone who questions this last statement to listen to Judith, written in 1949 for Martha Graham and based on the apocryphal story of a widow who saves the Jews from the evil Holofernes by charming him and then cutting off his head. Schuman emphasizes the story’s loftiest implications through a succession of compelling episodes that capture moods of enraged dignity, violence, and solemn triumph. The work is also fully satisfying as an autonomous musical entity, with consistent threads of thematic logic that unify the strongly contrasting sections. Here, serving the highest goals of musical communication, are the most distinctive features of Schuman’s language: instrumental choirs moving in separate textural planes; an eerily effective use of polytonality; long, flowing, yet angular melodic lines that culminate in a highly personal quasi-schizoid counterpoint; jagged, brittle rhythms; an extended example of hard-bitten brass pocketing that is one of the most memorable passages in the American orchestral literature. These are sounds that soon found their way into the music of many other American composers, Leonard Bernstein among them.   Because of its dramatic substructure and its lucid formal coherence, Judith may be the ideal entry point into the heart of Schuman’s music, if not his masterpiece.

It is hard to believe that a work of such importance has not had an adequate recording in thirty years. (The CRI recording issued in 1954, featuring the Eastman Philharmonia, conducted by David Effron, cannot be considered adequate.) Therefore, this excellently conceptualized and executed new recording by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony is a significant and welcome addition to the Schuman discography.

Schuman composed ten symphonies, although the first two are withdrawn   The Third is his most popular — a brilliantly constructed and tremendously exciting work, though one I have often described as the best symphony Roy Harris never wrote. The Sixth, composed at about the same time as Judith, is a very ambitious work and a major achievement, defining a personal symphonic language unique to the composer. Schuman’s remaining symphonies maintain a high standard, exploring the possibilities and implications of this language in challenging and refreshing ways. But Symphonies 4 and 5 are relatively weak — rather thin and flimsy in content, compared to their predecessor and to those symphonies that followed.

Symphony No. 5 was composed in 1943 for strings only. It is a textbook example of Schuman’s use of polytonality, and the long slow movement has some beautiful moments. But the outer movements seem to me loose, unfocused, and routine. (A point of comparison too apt not to mention is Vincent Persichetti’s Symphony No. 5 (New World–NW 370-23, composed in 1953–also for strings, approximately the same duration, and using what most listeners would hear as the same general language. The Persichetti emerges as a work of far more concentration, substance, and depth.) The standard-bearing recording of Schuman’s Fifth has been the 1971 Columbia release (MS-7442) featuring the composer’s devoted advocate, Leonard Bernstein, with the strings of the New York Philharmonic. Aided by today’s sonic advantages, the Schwarz/Seattle Symphony performance holds its own in that company.

Turning for a moment to the Slatkin/Saint Louis Symphony disc, one encounters the premier recording of Schuman’s Tenth Symphony, “American Muse,” composed in 1975 for the United States Bicentennial and “dedicated to our country’s creative artists past, present and future.” Despite its subtitle, the work is generally consistent in style with its four symphonic predecessors, as suggested earlier, with no overt national references. There is, however, as with many Schuman works, a “public” quality to the symphony, as if the composer were addressing his audience as a “chief executive officer,” so to speak, rather than as a private individual. Like the Symphony for Strings, the Tenth features a long, weighty slow movement, sandwiched between two shorter, more vigorous movements. This slow movement conveys a bleak, solemn contemplativeness that is one of the chief characteristics of the mature Schuman symphonies, comparable, in its own way, to the long slow movements of some of Shostakovich’s later symphonies. It is also revealing to compare the work to Judith, and to note the ways that what is essentially the same language evolved over the course of 25 years. In the compositions of his later years, Schuman turned to an expanded range of percussion sonorities, as well as a few untraditional textural effects, most likely influenced by the explorations of some of his younger colleagues. The outer movements of the Tenth bristle with a taut, bracing, brilliantly-colored affirmativeness. Leonard Slatkin leads a stupendously exciting performance of this hard-edged work.

The new RCA release also includes the American Festival Overture, an exhilarating if somewhat self-consciously American curtain-raiser based on a New York street-call. This work, composed in 1939, introduces the composer’s brash, self-assertive exuberance in one of its earliest manifestations, with many premonitions of the Third Symphony, which was to appear two years later. Slatkin leads a sizzlingly dynamic performance that pretty much equals Bernstein’s reading with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

As implied at the beginning of this review, his orchestration of Ives’ organ piece,Variations on “America”, and the New England Triptych are fast becoming Schuman’s ubiquitous “chestnuts,” like the Adagio for Strings is for Barber. New England Triptych, based on hymns by the American colonial William Billings, is a marvelous piece of workmanship and a delicious piece of music, though peripheral to the mainstream of Schuman’s output. His orchestration of the satirical Ives piece is expert, but how many times can one enjoy even this clever joke? By now I am tired of it. I find that Schwarz captures its satirical qualities better than Slatkin in his rather tight-lipped reading. On the other hand, Slatkin’s rendition of the New England Triptych is extraordinary–the best I’ve heard–while Schwarz becomes a bit frantic in this one.

I suppose that these two new releases pose a bit of a problem for the prospective purchaser who wishes to buy just one. The presence of Judith gives the Delos a slight edge, I think. Furthermore, there is something troubling about the disc: no timings are given for the individual works anywhere on the package; only the total timing of the disc appears — and the printed timing is five minutes longer than the actual timing! I wonder what is going on here.

HANSON: Symphony No. 5, “Sinfonia Sacra”; Symphony No. 7, “A Sea Symphony”; Mosaics; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.

HANSON: Symphony No. 5, “Sinfonia Sacra”; Symphony No. 7, “A Sea Symphony”; Mosaics; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Gerard Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphony Chorale; Carol Rosenberger, piano. DELOS — DE 3130 [DDD]; 67:51. Produced by Amelia S. Haygood.

With this fourth all-Hanson release, Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony conclude their traversal of the seven symphonies of this endearing — and, as it appears today, enduring — American composer. The performances offered here display the same warmth and fervent conviction as the earlier releases.

The reappraisal inevitably prompted by Schwarz’s recorded survey leads one to the conclusion that Howard Hanson was not a truly great composer — certainly not a great symphonist — but an enormously ingratiating one with a strong and distinctive personal style, even though this style shows the traces of such varied predecessors as Rimsky-Korsakov, Debussy, and Sibelius. One is also forced to conclude that only the First (“Nordic”) and possibly the Third are really satisfying symphonic statements. The others, while offering the sheer pleasure of wallowing in throbbing melodies, lush harmonies, energetic rhythms, and lavish orchestration, lack the sort of spontaneous and natural yet logical formal progression essential to the symphonic form.

The Symphony No. 5, “Sinfonia Sacra,” is Hanson’s shortest and most compact symphony. Its several dramatic episodes contained within one 15-minute movement, the work has the feel of a tone poem more than a symphony. Its emotional tone is stern and solemn, for the most part — very Sibelian — although it culminates in a tremendously exciting climax built of increasingly intensified, brilliantly orchestrated ostinati in the true Hanson manner. Schwarz leads a strong, convincingly shaped performance that is far more effective in evoking a sense of grandeur and monumentality than Hanson’s own rendition, recorded soon after the work’s premiere in 1955.

“A Sea Symphony” was Hanson’s Seventh, and his penultimate work, composed in 1977 when he was 81 years old. The work inevitably invites comparison with Vaughan Williams’ First Symphony, with which it even shares some of the same Whitman texts, but such a comparison is not flattering to the later work. Hanson uses the notion of venturing into the unknown as a metaphor for his own impending departure, but despite these profound concerns, the music itself is incredibly thin, its grandly rhetorical gestures unsupported by musical substance. A culminating reference to “the theme” from the “Romantic” Symphony is an unfortunate but characteristic bit of self-indulgence. A recording of the work’s premiere, featuring the World Youth Symphony Orchestra from the National Music Camp at Interlochen, has been around for some time, first as a privately issued LP, then as a Bay Cities CD. That student group lacked the polish and refinement necessary to give the work an appealing surface, with the result that its lack of substance was mercilessly obvious. Here the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Chorale succeed in imbuing the sonority with a richness and solidity that helps to conceal the work’s structural weakness and to convey something of the fervent visionary quality for which Hanson obviously strived.

One of the virtues of Schwarz’s Hanson cycle is his presentation of the symphonies within the context of other works by the composer, thereby enhancing the listener’s perspective. Most welcome on this recording is Mosaics, a 12-minute work in a sort of variations form. Composed a couple o£ years after the Fifth Symphony, it is similar in style and tone, but tighter, neater, and more fluent, its episodic nature more natural and balanced. The work shows Hanson’s mature idiom at its best, and is also a marvelous example of his skill as an orchestrator, revealing a characteristic sound world that could be confused with no other composer’s.

Hanson’s 1948 Piano Concerto is a rather strange work — uncharacteristic as a piano concerto and uncharacteristic as a work of this composer. The piano functions more as a percussive-melodic orchestral voice — like the xylophone (a favorite Hanson sound) — than as a protagonist rivaling the orchestra. The work is in four movements, but its tone is rather consistent throughout — generally light and breezy, with little sense of conflict, although the slow movement does have some darker aspects. It is attractive enough, with its share of flashy, exciting moments and pretty, leisurely melodies, but it is remarkably flimsy and insubstantial — lukewarm in tone and simple in texture, with surprisingly little developmental fiber. Some commentators have noted a touch of jazz, but it is really only a trace, and very dilute. The performance offered here, featuring pianist Carol Rosenberger, is brisker, lighter, and more refined than Eugene List’s reading with the M.I.T. Symphony on a Pantheon CD. 

One assumes that this release concludes Gerard Schwarz’s investigation of the works of Howard Hanson — for the time being, at any rate. A good deal of music has been included, giving the interested listener what must be termed a representative survey. My chief quibble is the omission of a couple of very worthwhile pieces that would have filled out the picture: an early tone poem called Pan and the Priest and a moving choral work, The Cherubic Hymn. On the other hand, such pieces included by Schwarz as the Piano Concerto, the KoussevitzkyElegy, the Serenade, and the Pastorale add little to one’s knowledge, understanding, or pleasure. Nevertheless, both Schwarz and Delos are to be congratulated and thanked for providing such an in-depth exploration of the works of one of America’s most important pioneering musical figures.

CRESTON: Symphony No. 3, “Three Mysteries”; Invocation and Dance; Partita for Flute, Violin, and Strings; Out of the Cradle.

CRESTON: Symphony No. 3, “Three Mysteries”; Invocation and Dance; Partita for Flute, Violin, and Strings; Out of the Cradle. Scott Goff, flute; Ilkka Talvi, violin; Gerard Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. DELOS DE-3114 [DDD] 67:05. Produced by Amelia S. Haygood.

For an overview of Paul Creston’s career and place in American music, see my review of Koch International’s recent all-Creston disc (3-7036-2Hl) in Fanfare14:6 p. 143-44). Gerard Schwarz’s new release adds significantly to the recorded representation of this composer’s unique contribution.

The Third Symphony was composed in 1950, during Creston’s heyday, and was first performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy’s direction. Its subtitle refers to the fact that each movement expresses the composer’s emotional reaction to a key episode in the life of Jesus: the nativity, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. Although its entire thematic basis is drawn from Gregorian chant, there is nothing austere about the work. Rather, the modal chant material is subjected to rigorous development in Creston’s characteristically robust, exuberant, and opulent manner. The result is likely to suggest the score of a Hollywood religious epic to the average listener. The approach and impact of the work is so visceral — almost to the point of vulgarity — that at its premiere some listeners were reportedly offended by its treatment of sacred themes. However, the symphony is a personal statement, and the flesh-and-blood treatment truly reflects Creston’s individual conception of the subject matter. Indeed, the integration and development of the Gregorian themes is quite intricate and ingenious — moreso than its immediate effect may suggest. The central “Crucifixion” movement is probably one of the composer’s most eloquent and moving creations.

The sole previous recording of the work was a muddy-sounding Westminster disc from the early 1950s, featuring a fine, sympathetic performance by the National Symphony Orchestra under Howard Mitchell. As good as that performance was, it is exciting to have a new recorded interpretation of the score. Schwarz’s approach is somewhat restrained and understated, effectively toning down the work’s extravagance and bombast. Furthermore, the modern recording allows for vastly greater detail and transparency of texture, highlighting Creston’s expert orchestration. My only complaint involves the fugue in the first movement: here the tempo is so slow that the spirit of the music is distorted; also, accompanying figurations are sometimes overly prominent, overshadowing thematic elements.

Invocation and Dance is another piece from the early 1950s, and is one of Creston’s most popular works, exemplifying what is probably his most distinctive format: the prelude and dance, the latter a lively rhythmic development of material introduced in the prelude. This recording appears on the heels of a new Louisville recording, reviewed an issue or two ago with considerable reservations. This Seattle performance is richer and more vital than the recent Louisville version (there was an old Louisville recording as well), and Schwarz gives Creston’s all-important rhythmic accents the dry punch they require, rather than the heavy-handedness they usually receive. But again, his tempos are sometimes too slack, and accompanying figurations often dominate thematic elements in the texture, although transparency of detail is welcome. Invocation and Dance is an appealing work, but Janus is Creston’s best essay in the prelude-and-dance format, and has never been recorded. I hate to be overly demanding, but I do wish conductors would sometimes look beyond the most obvious choices.

Creston’s Partita for flute, oboe, and strings is another work that is already available on CD — in this case in an excellent performance, part of Harmonia Mundi’s “Modern Masters” series (HMU 906011), featuring the City of London Sinfonia under the direction of David Amos. The Partita, composed in 1937, is a sort of Creston-style Brandenburg Concerto, as the notes state. In this work, the composer’s unmistakable fingerprints are somewhat hidden by neo-Baroque camouflage. Three lively, cheerful movements are set off by two lovely, lyrical slow ones. Although this too is one of Creston’s most popular pieces, it is a little too tepid in emotional content for my taste. Here Schwarz provides a refined, precisely detailed reading, but prefer Amos’ heartier, more spirited, yet no less accurate rendition.

Out of the Cradle is a 10 1/2-minute tone poem inspired by the famous verses of Walt Whitman, one of Creston’s favorite writers, presented here in its first-ever recording. It is a very early work — the composer’s Opus 5 — written shortly before Creston’s style attained its final crystallisation during the late 1930s. Although I cannot discern its relationship to the poem, it is an attractively moody, exotically-flavored piece, more episodic in form than the composer’s mature norm

This disc makes an important contribution to the continuing revival of American orchestral music from the middle decades of this century. One looks forward to further installments from Gerard Schwarz and Delos, who are making some of the most exciting inroads into this long-neglected repertoire.

CRESTON: Symphony No. 5. Choreografic Suite. Toccata. Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra. POULENC: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra. BEREZOWSKY: Fantasie for Two Pianos and Orchestra.

CRESTON: Symphony No. 5. Choreografic Suite. Toccata. Gerard Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the New York Chamber Symphony. DELOS DE 3127 [DDD]; 68:35. Produced by Amelia Haygood and Adam Stern.

CRESTON: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra. POULENC: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra. BEREZOWSKY: Fantasie for Two Pianos and Orchestra. Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, pianos; David Amos conducting the Polish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. ALBANY TROY 112 [DDD]; 54:08. Produced by Beata Jankowska-Burzynska.

The music of Paul Creston is more popular right now than it has been at any time during the past forty years. The generous and varied serving of music found on these two new CDs documents this revival of interest, while amply displaying both the attractions and the limitations of this distinctive figure, illustrating the unique place he holds among his generation of American composers. (For background information and commentary, seeFanfare 14:6, pp. 143-44, 16:2, pp. 221-22). The Delos disc represents the second installment of Gerard Schwarz’s Creston survey and features three works never before available on recording (although an excellent performance of Choreografrc Suite conducted by Jorge Mester has sat “in the can” for years without ever being released). The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra presented on the Albany disc is also a first recording.

Creston composed his Fifth Symphony in 1955, when his reputation was at its zenith. It is the most serious in tone of his six symphonies, with a focus on subjective emotional distress that make it a real rarity among his oeuvre. Creston’s contribution to the “victory through struggle” symphonic genre, the work is in three movements, the first of which presents an explosively agitated and turbulent statement of the problem: the second, an alternately reflective and grandly dramatic lament; and the finale, an assertion of defiance and purpose, which propels itself with incredible force and intensity to a triumphant conclusion. As with Creston’s few other serious-toned works, the symphony displays a tough, earthy grimness and a tendency toward melodrama reminiscent of the film noir style popular during the 1940s. It is always tightly argued motivically, but its emotional extremism does at times spill over into grandiose overstatement, which conductor Schwarz wisely and successfully attempts to rein in, heightening rather than diminishing the effect.

Creston composed his Toccata two years later, to showcase the virtuosity of the Cleveland Orchestra and its conductor George Szell. It is the sort of rousing and exuberant curtain-raiser for which Creston became somewhat typecast, with many solo passages that highlight individual members of the orchestra. The work is also something of a compositional tour de force, featuring sixty-five different rhythmic patterns within 3/4 meter. The overlapping interactions of these different, irregularly accented rhythmic patterns are the most distinctive aspect of Creston’s art, and create a sort of manic giddiness that raises the music above the trivial and conventional. However, in order to achieve this effect, the conductor must drive the music forward, and in this piece Schwarz tends to let the momentum sag at times.

The Choreografic Suite was composed in 1965. Creston was something of a pedant, and his efforts to revise rhythmic notation, to purge it of “irrational” practices were paralleled by a fascination with verbal language, and an impatience with the irrationality of English spelling. For a time he adopted an “improved” mode of spelling, which crept into the title of this work, although I don’t know why he didn’t spell it “Koreografic.” Anyway, the work consists of five movements of contrasting mood — really essays in motion — in Creston’s lightest, most accessible vein, providing an abstract framework for choreographic interpretation. It is formally analogous to the popular Partita for flute, violin, and strings — minus the neo-baroque overlay — composed thirty years earlier. Indeed, Creston’s propensity for depicting states of motion, rather than expressing states of emotion, points to the essentially Baroque character of his musical content, though realized in a Romantic/Impressionistic language, intensified by twentieth-century rhythmic features. The Choreografic Suite is too innocuously benign for my taste, but would be highly effective in the context of a pops concert. Again, Schwarz’s overly relaxed tempos — especially in the “Burletta” movement — emphasize the blandness of the music.       

The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra was written in 1951 and consists of three movements — two rollicking Allegros flanking a central Andante pastorale marked by a tender lyricism. Virtuoso showpieces for solo instrument(s) and orchestra form another significant component of Creston’s output. Almost without exception they are sunny, energetic, and exuberant works that follow a conventional formal layout. Yet though their tone is pops-concert light and spontaneous, they display an attention to disciplined motivic development that gives the music more substance and durability than may be apparent upon casual acquaintance. This is the key to understanding Creston’s music and it is not lost on program annotator Eric Salzman. It is for all these qualities outlined above that Creston’s music cannot be mistaken for that of any other composer.

The prolifically recorded two-piano team of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas offer an absolutely bang-up performance of Creston’s concerto, with all the propulsive drive this music requires. They apply a similar approach to Poulenc’s irresistibly mischievous stylistic grab-bag, which may shock listeners used to a more elegantly Gallic reading, though others will find its vigor and virility refreshing. Nicolai Berezowsky was a Russian-American composer-conductor-violinist who lived from 1900 to 1953. His eleven-minute Fantasie is another vigorous and assertive work, suggesting Alexandre Tcherepnin flavored by Ernest Bloch.

For the past fifteen years, Pierce and Jonas have been gradually recording much of the two-piano literature, with a particular emphasis on work of the twentieth century. Perhaps because they do not have a relationship with any particular label, but have recorded for many, they have not had the benefit of publicity that might draw attention to their work. But their recordings have been consistently reliable, and have brought to light many worthwhile compositions. In addition, Pierce has done a good deal of recording as a solo artist, including an indispensable disc devoted to the piano music of Nicolas Flagello (Premier PRCD-1014; see Fanfare 15:1. pp. 216-18).

And while we are on the subject of unheralded recording artists, consider for a moment conductor David Amos, who leads the Polish Radio and Television Orchestra in providing Pierce and Jonas with solid orchestral support. He is another who has not had the benefit of an identity created in association with a single record company or orchestra. But it bears noting that the current enthusiasm for composers like Paul Creston, Alan Hovhaness, Arnold Rosner, and many others whose music is now being investigated by better-known conductors and orchestras began toward the end of the LP era with recordings conducted by David Amos. Indeed, lately it often appear as if his large discography serves as a repertoire blueprint for other conductors and record companies. Yes, sometimes these others have had the resources to produce more polished recordings than Amos’s pioneering efforts, but he deserves a good deal of credit for his foresight, discrimination, and courage in investigating areas of the repertoire that had not yet demonstrated their commercial viability. These comments do not intend in any way to diminish the accomplishments of Gerard Schwarz, who is making a tremendous contribution through his enormously informative and valuable survey of American symphonic music. Both these conductors have made major infusions into an all but moribund orchestral repertoire.

In conclusion, let me direct the powers that be to the most significant remaining gaps in the discography of Paul Creston. First, three orchestral works: Chthonic Ode, a thirteen-minute homage to the sculptor Henry Moore, in which an uncharacteristically dissonant harmonic language, in combination with characteristic rhythmic irregularities, serve to suggest the power, massiveness, and a symmetry of Moore’s work; Janus, the most fully realized example of Creston’s favorite prelude-and-dance format; and Symphony No. I, which first brought the composer widespread public attention — a work whose four compact movements each set forth one of the main expressive veins Creston was to mine throughout his career. Also among his most ambitious and fully realized efforts are two compositions for piano solo:Metamorphoses, a large and elaborate set of variations on a twelve-tone theme, and Three Narratives, a trio of highly virtuosic fantasies that might be seen as Creston’s answer toGaspard de la Nuit. None of these works has ever been recorded in any format.