Diamond: Symphony No. 3/Schwarz

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

It’s a mystery why David Diamond has not been generally acclaimed as one of the top handful of American symphonists. His Third Symphony has everything: good tunes, terrific orchestration, tight construction, and a satisfying form. Its beauties are numerous and immediately appealing, from the zesty rhythmic kick of its first and third movements to the lovely writing for harp and piano in the second movement, all grounded in a slow finale of ineffable purity and gentleness. Of course, it’s that slow finale that probably seals the symphony’s doom in terms of its chances for live performance, but there’s no reason we can’t enjoy it at home in this excellently played and recorded performance (here getting new lease on life from Naxos after its first appearance on Delos).

The two couplings at first might look to have a certain outward resemblance in that they both enshrine spiritual subjects, but they couldn’t sound more different. Psalm (1936) is vintage early Diamond, a slow-fast-slow piece that bespeaks a certain French flavor (Ravel is never far away from Diamond’s quiet music). Kaddish (1987), on the other hand, is an elegiac apotheosis of the modes of synagogue chant. It’s beautifully played by Janos Starker, and altogether this collection represents a fine tribute to a still underrated major composer.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This One

DAVID DIAMOND - Symphony No. 3; Psalm; Kaddish

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