David Diamond Symphony No. 6 worth the wait

David Diamond said, “You have to write music that will be loved.” This release presents three such examples. Diamond was arguably at his creative peak in the immediate postwar era.

“Rounds for String Orchestra” (1944), “Music for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” (1947), and Symphony No. 6 (1951-54) all come from that period.

Diamond was a careful craftsman, a brilliant orchestrator, and a natural melodist. His “Rounds” was quite simple, yet it had immediate and lasting appeal. It’s one of his most-performed works.

“Romeo and Juliet” is a dramatic tone poem that focuses more on the drama rather than the romance of the story. The score has a post-war sleekness to it that I found quite appealing.

Quite appalling is the fact that Diamond’s Symphony No. 6, at last, gets its world recording premiere — over a half-century after its debut.

The work is a tightly constructed gem, with not a single superfluous note. One often reads that Diamond’s tonal music was supplanted by that of atonal modernists.

Perhaps. But this symphony’s tonality pushes at the edges. And — listening to it with modern ears — I think it doesn’t sound old-fashioned at all.

Arthur Fagen directs the University of Indiana Chamber and Philharmonic Orchestras in exciting performances of these works. These ensembles play with professional poise and polish.

David Diamond wrote music with love. These are three scores that one could easily love.

David Diamond: Symphony No. 6
Rounds for String Orchestra; Romeo and Juliet
Indiana University Chamber Orchestra
Indiana University Philharmonic Orchestra; Arthur Fagen, conductor
Naxos 8.559842

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