Monday, April 22, 2013

Michael S. Wright Reviews 'An American Port of Call' of Adolphus Hailstork by Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on Naxos

[Adolphus Hailstork: An American Port of Call 
Naxos 8.559722 (2012)]

 Michael S. Wright writes:


I do buy quite a few CD's via Amazon and they keep coming back to give a review of the products I buy! The one that appears below has been posted on Amazon UK should have done ages ago regarding 'An American Port of Call' and hope that people are encouraged to get it. I am also hoping that further fine recordings by Dr Hailstork will emerge.

Best wishes


Adolphus Hailstork, born 1941, a former student of Nadia Boulanger, is now one of America's leading lights of symphonic music. His music never confronts its audience. Whilst he is not well known outside America, I believe that this will change.  The title track is his lively and 'atmospheric' early work described as a 'concert overture' but in reality, more a short symphonic poem.  'An American Port of Call' is understood to have been inspired by his home town in Norfolk, Virginia and is superbly performed by the orchestra to which it was dedicated. 

The last track of the CD uses Walt Whitman's poetry very effectively in 'Journey: 'Launch out on endless seas'  and I hope that he will develop further movements in future. 

The first symphony was written in the 1980's and originally recorded getting on for 20 years ago by Julius P Williams on Albany in a trailblazing performance with a European orchestra. However, JoAnn Faletta has pulled off something rather special from an orchestra I know little about, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra which is not well known in the UK. Hailstork's first symphony can be described as ‘neo-classical’ (Allegro /  Adagio: Lento ma non troppo / Scherzo: Alegretto / Rondo: Vivace). It is a great 'access point' to his music and perhaps reflects a little of the style of Copland.

The 'Three Spirituals' are orchestral settings originally written for organ. I am aware of some of the organ music of Dr. Hailstork and it is something special! It can be heard on Amazing Grace: Organ Music Of Adolphus Hailstork 034061087328. 

After listening to this CD, I would strongly recommend Naxos 8.559295 which features Dr Hailstork's very different 2nd and 3rd Symphonies with Grand Rapids Symphony under David Lockington.

[Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941) is featured at]

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