Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor
Rebecca Miller, Conductor
Reviews
Henry Hadley Orchestral Works

Boston-born Henry Kimball Hadley (1871-1937), sometimes known simply as Henry Hadley, is a figure of some importance in American musical history, more perhaps as conductor than composer. Music director (from 1911 to 1915) of the newly founded San Francisco Symphony, he was the first American to hold a full-time conducting post with the New York Philharmonic; in later life, he was instrumental in founding the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood. His music, though, popular in his lifetime, has an eclectic quality that nowadays strikes us as derivative.

Russian and German influences prevailed. While a student in Vienna in 1894, he heard Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique and was overwhelmed by it. Between 1904 and 1907 he was in Munich, studying again, this time with Ludwig Thuille, who introduced him to Strauss. Hadley’s subsequent assertion that he began his tone-poem Salome in 1905 in total ignorance of Strauss’s impending opera may therefore be discounted. Wilde is similarly the source, but Hadley replaces chronological narrative with a meandering symphonic movement constructed from themes representing Salome herself (conservatively chromatic woodwind and strings), Jokanaan (echoes of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred) and Herod (despotic fanfares). The dance, attractively orientalist, is an independent episode slotted into the development.

Some of the other pieces here are, in fact, more striking, above all the 1919 Othello Overture – very Tchaikovskian but also very compact, taut and gripping. San Francisco, written for the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1931, curiously conjures up fantasies of West Coast exoticism for its East Coast listeners, while Scherzo diabolique (1934) was inspired by ‘a terrifying automobile ride at night, exceeding all speed limits’ (Hadley’s words). The 1918 opera Cleopatra’s Night, meanwhile, based on Théophile Gautier’s erotic novella, yields a rather sugary Intermezzo, its concertante flute solo played here with considerable grace by Ileana Ruhemann. Elsewhere, the performances from the BBC Concert Orchestra under the American conductor Rebecca Miller are finely judged and nicely virtuoso.

Tim Ashley, Gramophone Review - Henry Hadley
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