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Thread: Some Great Lesser Known Symphonies You Should Hear

  1. #331
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    Oh, where to begin! Here are some of my favorites (most of which have already been mentioned):

    Kurt Atterberg: All 9 symphonies (especially nos. 2, 3, 5, and 8). Lush, gorgeously orchestrated, tuneful, exciting, and dramatic works. I like to think of Atterberg as a cross between Sibelius (for atmosphere), Rachmaninoff (for Romantic emotion and melody), and Strauss (for brilliant orchestration), but that is not to undermine the fact that he has an individual voice. His music would surely bring the house down in concert if given the chance! To me, Atterberg is possibly the most underrated composer ever.

    Joly Braga Santos: Symphonies 1-5 (I haven't heard no. 6 yet). Symphonies 1-4 are tonal (often modal), exciting, and and melodic works. I particularly recommend Symphony no. 4, which is a remarkable work with plenty of memorable tunes, especially in its joyous, life-affirming finale. No. 5 is a much darker and more dissonant work, but makes a powerful impact.

    Howard Hanson: Symphonies 1-5 (I haven't heard no. 6 yet). Hanson is my favorite American composer. His music is full of atmosphere and generous melody, and to me conjures up images of the the vast expanses of the American West. His Symphony no. 2 Romantic is rather well-known, but I cannot emphasize enough what a fantastic work it is. No. 3 has a beautiful slow movement and rousing ending, while nos. 4 and 5 show the composer in a darker (but far from pessimistic) mode.

    Malcolm Arnold: Symphonies 2, 5, and 7. All of them have their moments but these three are the most consistently great. Arnold is very much like a mid-20th century Mahler - his symphonies juxtapose beautiful, Romantic melodies against dark, disturbing passages. Symphony no. 5 is his masterpiece - it contains a beautiful, Mahlerian slow movement and one of the most astonishingly powerful endings in all of music (I won't spoil it for you).

    Alfredo Casella: Symphonies 1-3. Symphonies 1 and 2 are thrilling works firmly in the late-Romantic mold, which at times sound like a heady mixture of Mahler and Tchaikovsky at his darkest. Symphony no. 3 (Sinfonia), written much later in the composer's more refined mature style, is a masterwork with a touching slow movement, agitated scherzo, and optimistic finale.

    Eduard Tubin: Symphonies 2 and 6 (I haven't heard many of them yet). Symphony no. 2 The Legendary is a real stunner. Tubin's orchestration is remarkably original and ear-catching, lending this work some unique atmosphere and textures that would make Sibelius jealous. Symphony no. 6 is more dissonant but still approachable, and contains some deliciously malevolent saxophone solos in the spirit of Vaughan Williams' 6th and 9th symphonies. Symphony no. 4 Sinfonia lirica is quite good too, but I'm not as over-the-roof about it as some people.

    Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Symphony in F-sharp. This late masterwork really makes me wish Korngold had composed more symphonies. The shockingly dissonant opening is a far cry from the lush Romanticism of his Violin Concerto, for instance. The slow movement is a profound funeral march, and only in the jovial finale is there some waning of inspiration.

    Vagn Holmboe: Symphonies 1, 3, 8, and 10 (the only ones I've heard so far). Holmboe is the natural heir to Nielsen and his imaginative music doesn't deserve to be overshadowed by his elder countryman. These symphonies breathe the cold air of the Nordic forests and contain some really powerful passages.

    Franz Berwald: Symphonies 1 and 3 (I haven't heard nos. 2 and 4). No. 3 Singuliere is one of the greatest symphonies of the 19th century IMO. It's an astonishingly forward-looking work which anticipates the 'Nordic sound' of Sibelius and Nielsen.

    Takashi Yoshimatsu: Symphonies 2 and 3 (the only ones I've heard so far). I wasn't really sure quite what to expect here, but these symphonies proved to be really exciting, accessible works. Don't get put off by the rather avant-garde opening of no. 3 - it soon turns out to be a great work with one of the most thrilling conclusions I know.

    Kurt Weill: Symphonies 1 and 2. Knowing Weill was predominantly a composer of theater music, I was pleasantly surprised by these two symphonies. The 1st is a dark, rather expressionistic work, while the 2nd is a superbly energetic work with lots of memorable ideas and a beautiful slow movement.

    Walter Piston: Symphony no. 2 (the only other one I know is the 5th, which I didn't think much of). The outer movements are energetic and dance-like, but the real prize here is the astoundingly beautiful slow movement, which builds its way to a heart-wrenching climax.

    I'll probably post some more later...

  2. #332
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Roberto Gerhard 1-4
    Laszlo Lajtha 1-9
    Panufnik 9, 10
    Lutoslawski 2-4
    Penderecki no.1
    Zemlinsky Lyric Symphony
    Henry Cowell symphonies 2-5, 11, 15, 16 all on YT
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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  4. #333
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Can a symphony that is only 3 years old and had it's premiere 1 year ago be considered as lesser known? Let's just make sure that it doesn't end up that way...
    David Matthews Symphony #9
    Matthews_sy9_NI6382.jpg

    There have been a number of mentions of George Lloyd in this thread. As I have been listening to the 5th and 11th recently for the first time in quite a while, I strongly second them - and the rest of his 12 symphonies.

    P.S. If you like Lloyd, you will (probably) like Matthews.
    Last edited by Becca; Jul-09-2019 at 04:25.

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  6. #334
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    ^^^ I've enjoyed quite a bit of Lloyd's music in the past, he's good, but will probably always be judged purely as an anachronistic romantic. He probably is, and that matters to some (not me, I hasten to add) but his bigger works (I have a 2-CD set with Edward Downes conducting three heftier Symphonies as an example) are his better works for me. No.7 is a great piece too! The shorter Symphonies, which I think have a sort of Mendelssohn delicacy aren't as good as the biggies. And unfortunately, with his two big later choral works - the Requiem and the Symphonic Mass - I can't help hearing Andrew Lloyd Webber!

    But God did he know what an orchestra can do. An absolute master of orchestration!
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Jul-09-2019 at 13:14.

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  8. #335
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    Can a symphony that is only 3 years old and had it's premiere 1 year ago be considered as lesser known? Let's just make sure that it doesn't end up that way...
    David Matthews Symphony #9
    Matthews_sy9_NI6382.jpg

    There have been a number of mentions of George Lloyd in this thread. As I have been listening to the 5th and 11th recently for the first time in quite a while, I strongly second them - and the rest of his 12 symphonies.

    P.S. If you like Lloyd, you will (probably) like Matthews.
    Nice becca, I'm glad I'm not the only one who knows of Matthews. I'd also recommend John McCabe if you don't know him already.
    Time to listen to some Lloyd then as I don't know of him or his work.

    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

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  10. #336
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    ^^^ I've enjoyed quite a bit of Lloyd's music in the past, he's good, but will probably always be judged purely as an anachronistic romantic. He probably is, and that matters to some (not me, I hasten to add) .....
    Of course it doesn't matter if the music is as good as the music he harks back to (I'm thinking of late Elgar as a prime example). I do think it must be very hard, though, to produce new music using old language and to come close to producing something inspired. For me, I don't think Lloyd does and I often hear something close to pastiche in his music. But then, having not found much interest in the pieces I have heard, I haven't spent a lot of time with his music. Of course, he had skills and talent.

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  12. #337
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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    Another Dukas work that deserves to be much better-known is La Peri, his last work. It's a wonderful ballet, with a rather impressive (and somewhat well-known in the band world) fanfare at the beginning; but the next 20 minutes are pure heaven.

    One of my absolute favorite sets of symphonies is that of Edmund Rubbra. There is something distinctly personal about these symphonies, from form to harmonic language to orchestration. There is a marvelous set of recordings by the late Richard Hickox.
    I absolutely agree about Rubbra. His 11 symphonies, along with the VW 9, are the greatest English symphonies.

  13. #338
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    As this thread has been resurrected and I don't have time go scan through it to see what might or might not have been said, let me throw in one more 20th century Welsh composer, William Mathias. He wrote 3 symphonies, all worth listening to...
    Last edited by Becca; Apr-15-2021 at 22:39.

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  15. #339
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    I hope i'm the first one to mention Richard Wetz. His 3 symphonies are Brucknerian and worth a listen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ned Low View Post
    I hope i'm the first one to mention Richard Wetz. His 3 symphonies are Brucknerian and worth a listen.
    Richard Wetz (1875-1935) has been mentioned quite often on other threads. I especially like his Symphonies 2 and 3 -- he could compose effectively on the grand Brucknerian scale. Another name that comes to mind as an "heir" to Bruckner is Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) in his first two symphonies; I think that the opening of Bruckner's Fourth "Romantic" Symphony is actually signalled in Schmidt's Second (both works are in Eb major). But there is also a lot more of Hungary and of Vienna in Schmidt.
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Apr-15-2021 at 22:07.

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  19. #341
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    There's a new issue coming out on Naxos next month, the seven Symphonies of the Belgian composer Marcel Poot. Anyone know anything about these works?? Totally new name to me..

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  21. #342
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    I have 3,5,6,7 on Marco Polo - possibly the same versions that will be on the Naxos issue. Pleasant romantic music, but far from essential. YMMV obviously.

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  23. #343
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    I also don't have the time to go through all the posts from the past. I may even have posted before what I am going to post now! But have the symphonies of Humphrey Searle been mentioned yet?

  24. #344
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    Default My Favorite Lesser Known Symphonies

    1. Elsner - Symphony in C major, Op.11 (1805)
    2. Lipiński - Symphony in B flat major, Op. 2 No. 3 (1810)
    3. Dobrzyński - Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Characteristic", Op.15" (1831)
    4. Saint-Saëns - Symphony in F major "Urbs Roma" (1856)
    5. Reinecke - Symphony No. 1 in A major, Op. 79 (1858, rev. 1863)
    6. Rheinberger - Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 10 "Wallenstein" (1866)
    7. Noskowski - Symphony No. 1 in A major (1875)
    8. Reinecke - Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 134 (1875, rev. 1888)
    9. Rheinberger - Symphony No. 2 in F major, Op. 87 (1875)
    10. Noskowski - Symphony No. 2 in C minor (1879)
    11. Sgambati - Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 16 (1881)
    12. Fuchs - Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 37 (1884)
    13. Fuchs - Symphony No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 45 (1887)
    14. Gernsheim - Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Mirjam", Op. 54 (1887)
    15. Wieniawski, Józef - Symphony in D major, Op. 49 (1890)
    16. Gretchaninov - Symphony No. 1 in B minor, Op. 6 (1894)
    17. Reinecke - Symphony No. 3 in G minor, Op. 227 (1894)
    18. Gernsheim - Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 62 (1895)
    19. Sgambati - Symphony No. 2 in E-flat major (1895)
    20. Martucci - Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75 (1895)
    21. Stojowski - Symphony in D minor, Op. 21 (1897)
    22. Dohnányi - Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 9 (1901)
    23. Karłowicz - Symphony "Rebirth" in E minor, Op. 7 (1902)
    24. Melartin - Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 30 No. 1 (1902)
    25. Olsson - Symphony in G minor, Op. 11 (1902)
    26. Noskowski - Symphony No. 3 in F major "From Spring to Spring" (1903)
    27. Fuchs - Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 79 (1906)
    28. Gretchaninov - Symphony No. 2 in A major "Pastoral", Op. 27 (1908)
    29. Młynarski - Symphony in F major "Polonia", Op. 14 (1910)
    30. Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, "The Journey of Southerly Winds" (1910)
    31. Melartin - Symphony No. 5 "Sinfonia Brevis" in A minor, Op. 90 (1915)
    32. Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 3 in F minor, "Lappland Symphony" (1915)
    33. Wetz - Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 40 (1916)
    34. Berg, Natanael - Symphony No. 4 "Pezzo Sinfonico" (1918)
    35. Wetz - Symphony No. 2 in A major, Op. 47 (1920)
    36. Melartin - Symphony No. 6, Op. 100 (1924)
    37. Gretchaninov - Symphony No. 4 in C major, Op. 102 (1927)
    38. Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 5 in B major, "Solitude" (1933)
    39. Graener - Wiener Sinfonie in F major, Op. 110 (1941)
    40. Dohnányi - Symphony No. 2 in E major, Op. 40 (1944)
    41. Malipiero - Symphony No. 3 "Delle campane" (1945)
    42. Malipiero - Symphony No. 6 "Degli archi" (1947)
    43. Malipiero - Symphony No. 7 "Delle canzoni" (1948)

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  26. #345
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    Wow, this thread has been an incredible treasure trove, introducing me to a tremendous amount of gorgeous music I had not heard before! I'm about to take another pass through and pick some more selections to put in my queue. Thanks for the recommendations, all of you!

    So far, I am adoring Stenhammar, Atterberg, Hanson, and Raff, and will eventually be working my way through all of their other symphonies.

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