William Schuman: Symphony No. 4

John McCabe (piano), Albany Symphony Orchestra, David Alan Miller (conductor)

Catalog #: TROY0566
Release Date: March 1, 2003
Format: Digital

Those of you who know your English composers; yes, indeed, it is John McCabe who is the piano soloist in the Schuman Piano Concerto. In fact, it was John who recommended that the Orchestra perform the piece in the first place. In the new SACD format, this is a great demonstration disc to show just how good the modern orchestra can sound. Here, Credendum appears for the first time ever in stereo in any format. It is one of the loudest pieces of music ever written. The work takes its name from the Latin for "that which must be believed." It was commissioned through the Department of State (the first time a government agency had ever commissioned a piece of music) to honor UNESCO, the United Nations organization in charge of coordinating arts, science and education programs worldwide. It was premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Thor Johnson conducting, on November 4, 1955, in a special concert honoring the Fifth National Conference of the United States National Commission for UNESCO. The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was originally derived from an unperformed concerto fashioned in 1938-39 and was called Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra. It exists in an altogether other universe from the sweeping concertos of Brahms, Grieg and Tchaikovsky. Which may clarify why one disgruntled listener, in Manhattan's Town Hall on January 13, 1943, demanded that Daniel Saidenberg - who had just led the Saidenberg Little Symphony and pianist Rosalyn Tureck in the premiere performance - explain himself. "You conduct modern music," the young woman said. "Why?" William Schuman considered himself first and foremost a symphonist, and his Fourth Symphony dates from his period of greatest industry in that form, during and shortly after World War Two. (To his regret, physical disabilities disqualified him from military service). The Third arrived in late 1941, the Fourth a few months later, the Symphony for Strings (No. 5) in late 1942 and the masterful Sixth in 1948. Aaron Copland heard a performance of this symphony in the early 80s at Tanglewood and phoned Schuman to rave about the piece, calling it "wonderful" and claiming to have been wholly unfamiliar with it. On the contrary - Schuman reminded him - not only had Copland already read through the score but Schuman had even revised the end of the second movement based on the senior composer's comments. But then, that had been four decades prior: the symphony was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra under Artur Rodzinski (to whom it was dedicated) on January 22, 1942 - a few scant weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.


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Track Listing

Title Composer Performer
Credendum William Schuman Albany Symphony Orchestra, David Alan Miller, conductor
Symphony No. 4 William Schuman Albany Symphony Orchestra, David Alan Miller, conductor, John McCabe, piano
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra William Schuman Albany Symphony Orchestra, David Alan Miller, conductor


  • "This release marks an important addition to the discography of American music--a worthy tribute to a fine...composer"

    – Classics Today

  • "Performances which hit the tread of Schumann's pounding street sounds."

    – Gramophone

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