Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 8
Sound Quality: 8
Paine’s Second Symphony, subtitled “In the Spring”, is a more ambitious work than his First, and it’s less successful. Despite a slightly more advanced harmonic idiom, the nearly 50-minute piece rambles–albeit amiably–in its outer movements. The slow introduction isn’t auspicious: it takes some time to get going, and the ambitiously titled finale (The Glory of Nature) doesn’t come close to living up to its promise–even for a work written in 1879. Certainly we can’t blame JoAnn Falletta and the Ulster Orchestra, who project the music with plenty of confidence and affection. The scherzo (May Night Fantasy) is charming, and the Adagio (A Romance of Springtime) pretty enough, but the entirety, to put it charitably, doesn’t cheat the clock.
The other pieces on the disc make a stronger impression, if only because they are shorter. The Prelude to Oedipus Tyrannus is suitably dark and atmospheric, and the tone poem Poseidon and Amphitrite has some strikingly beautiful moments. Not surprisingly a harp features prominently in this “Ocean Fantasy”, but for a composer of Paine’s conservative bent that exotic touch is a Big Deal and to his credit he makes the most of it. The sonics are good, though just a touch lacking in body. If this second and final disc in Naxos’ survey of Paine’s orchestral music isn’t as interesting as its predecessor, look to the composer’s inability to overcome his inhibitions.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: None
- PAINE, JOHN KNOWLES:Symphony No. 2 "In the Spring"; Prelude to Oedipus Tyrannus; Poseidon and Amphitrite--An Ocean Fantasy