November 7, 2011
One of the more underappreciated composers from the US in the 20th century Hanson was the first director of the Eastman School of Music, a post that he held for many years. As part of an agreement with Delos, Naxos is giving much of the catalog of Hanson material a re-issue featuring Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Written in 1957 for George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, Mosaics was a work of variations, a form that Hanson enjoyed. The sound is definitely tonal and reminds us of the work of Sibelius. Dark and mysterious is the opening of this work with the lower register offering a melody which is tragic and ominous. Hanson continues the melody with the trombones followed by the trumpets with timpani providing a steady constant rhythm. One can certainly picture a dark desolate scene. The oboe offers a variation of the main theme. Woodwinds and strings change the style of the variation offering first an uplifting major key shift turning into a romantic one which reminds you of his second symphony. As a feeling of yearning is felt the sadness returns with the oboe and the style changes to a pretty Irish melody. The final variation is a harmonious one which brings a sense of closure to the work as it returns to the original theme. This is a very nice work seldom if ever performed.
Naxos #8.559701. Original release was on Delos #3130