Sunday, December 4, 2011


I listened to the Harbison 5th on the radio Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. It reinforced and clarified my impression from Thursday. The symphony is more like a series of "accompagnato" recitatives followed by a duet. He's gone back to Bach. The orchestra supports the declamation of the texts and adds tonal color and emphasis, but there is no memorable melody from singer or instruments. It works very well as a dramatic retelling of the legend, but calling it a symphony is an unusual use of the word.

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