HADLEY: Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 64.
The Ocean, Op.
99. The Culprit Fay, Op. 62
Henry Kimball Hadley (1871-1937) is a fascinating figure on the American musical scene. Although born in Massachusetts and focused for much of his life on the east, he also had a major connection with the west: in 1909 he was appointed conductor of the Seattle Symphony and two years later became first conductor of the newly formed San Francisco Symphony. For seven years beginning in 1920 he was associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic Society. In 1918 he married concert singer Inez Barbour and two years later his opera Cleopatra's Night was premiered at the Met. A check of the Metropolitan Opera Annals shows the premiere was Jan. 31, 1919 with a cast that included Frances Alda. Apparently it is a rather short opera as it was part of a twin-bill that included Pagliacci. There were three more performances after which, at least as far as the Met is concerned, Cleopatra's Night disappeared. (Other now-forgotten operas presented that season were L'Oiseau Bleu by Albert Wolff and Leoncavallo's Zaza.) In 1933 McKay founded the National Association for American Composers and Conductors, which endowed the Henry Hadley Memorial Library now housed at the New York Public Library. In the summers of 1934 and 1935 he led members of the New York Philharmonic in what was called the Berkshire Symphonic Festival; because of illness he stepped aside and in 1936 Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony took over the Festival, now Tanglewood.
Hadley was incredibly
prolific. His works include operas, operettas,
incidental music, musicals, ballet suites, band pieces, symphonies, overtures,
tone poems, cantatas, hymns, oratorios, choral pieces, chamber music, piano
solos and numerous songs. He is said to have written "the first musical
score to be recorded and played in synchronism with an entire motion
picture" when he wrote the score for the Vitaphone Company film When a Man
Loves, released in 1926. His music is remarkably pleasant and imaginative;
his melodic gift is always apparent, his orchestration vivid.
The Fourth of Hadley's five symphonies was composed for the Norfolk, Connecticut Festival and premiered with the composer conducting June 6, 1911. Hadley also performed it with other orchestras, including the Boston Symphony February 7, 1925. The composer describes the work as a musical portrayal of moods suggesting first, the frozen North, second, the Far East, third, our own Southern ragtime rhythms; and fourth, the spirit of the West of our Pacific Coast. It's a rather long symphony (38:20) that holds attention throughout. Of particular interest is a theme in the first movement appearing for the first time about 3' in that is identical to Leonard Bernstein's "Glitter and Be Gay" from Candide written more than four decades later (1956). Could Bernstein have heard Hadley's symphony?
John McLaughlin Williams conducts with spirit and authority; the orchestral playing is top-notch, with state-of-the-art engineering by producer Alexander Hornostai and engineer Andrij Mokrytsky. Comprehensive CD notes by Marina and Victor Ledin complete a most attractive package. Totally recommended!
R.E.B. (July 2001)