a good recording on DG 138954)nFour recent releases of modernnAmerican music range from great tonmiddling interest. The finest of the fournis a rescue operation by Composers Recordings,nInc. They have reissued anninexplicably absent Columbia recordingnof Harold Shapiro’s ”Symphony fornClassical Orchestra'”! 1947). The albumncover (CRI-SRD 424) is marked “AmericannHistoric” (good heavens, even Inwas alive in 1947 and it is already historic!),nand one can only hope that thisnis the first in a series of such rescues ofnneglected American symphonic gems.nThe Shapiro Symphony represents thenbest of the American neoclassic movement,ni.e. tonal music modeled on thenformal clarity and concision of earliernclassical (preromantic) musical forms.nThe piece is lively and enlivening, withna lovely adagietto. The performance bynthe Columbia Symphony Orchestra undernLeonard Bernstein dates from 1954nand was recorded in mono, but it continuesnto serve the music very well. Thenrecord cover is graced with a delightfulncaricature of Bernstein conducting,ndrawn by Olga Koussevitzky. (The Shapironpiece was commissioned bv thenKoussevitzky Foundation.) I give thisnrecord an unqualified recommendation.nAnother CRI release (CRI SD 410)nis billed as “American Contemporary.”nalthough one of its featured pieces. “ThenSeasons.” by John Cage, was also composednin 1947. The difference. I suppose.nis that Cage went on to write (or not write.nas his emphasis on chance would have it innonmusic. and Shapiro did not. thusnmaking Cage more our contemporary.nThe other explanation is that the accompanyingnpiece bv Charles Wuorinen.n”Two-Part Symphony.” is dated 1977-n”8. In any case, m 1947 Cage, thoughnalready immersed in oriental philosophy,nwas still writing music. He would gonon to do his best to destroy the distinctionnbetween music and random sounds.nas if to liberate us from a terrible tyranny.nThe wreckage of noise this effort leftnin its wake is only now beginning to bencleared from the musical center stage.nLittle of this is adumbrated in Cage’s balletncomposition in which he intendedn”to express the traditional Indian viewnof the seasons as quiescence (winter),ncreation (spring), preservation (summer)nand destruction (fall).” It is not Vivaldi,nnor is it jVIilhaud, who also wrote a modernnFour Seasons set. The music is simple,ndelicate for the most part, lightlyntextured, yet never boring. It containsnsome beautiful drawn-out sounds thatnI would almost swear came from a glassnharmonica, though the instrument is notnlisted on the jacket cover. The recordingnbefore a live audience in 1978 is interspersednwith a few coughs, but the goodnsound compensates. Dennis Russell Da-n’ies conducts the American ComposersnOrchestra in a fine performance.nAmerican IVIusic for Strings (D-n79002). offers an easy, enjoyable, butnonly mildly invigorating listening experience.nOn the plus side, all the worksnpresented here are tonal and accessible.nBack issues of Chronicles of Culture are available for $1.00 apiece.nFor a complete list of back issues In stock, write to;nChronicles of Culture, The Rockford Institute,n934 North Main Street, Rockford, IL 61103.n:^8inChronicles of CulturennnThe longest work is the liveliest, DavidnDiamond’s “Rounds for String Orchestra”n(1944). Diamond wrote this piecenat the request of Dmitri Mitropoulosnwho was depressed at having to conductnso much twelve-note music. “Write mena happy work.” Mitropoulos asked.n”These are distressing times, most ofnthe difficult music I play is distressing.nMake me happy.” Diamond respondednwith a nice musical pick-me-up. SamuelnBarber’s “Serenade for String Orchestra”n(1929) was written when the composernwas 19. It is pleasant, accomplished,nbut it does not approach thengreatness of his later works. Ir’ing Fine’sn”Serious Song —a Lament for String Orchestra”n(1955) is a symphonic elegy,n”an extended aria for string orchestra”nas Fine called it, which has genuinenweight and beauty. It only lacks that little,nindescribable something whichnwould make it a minor classic.nElliott Carter, not someone fromnwhom we are used to hearing easily accessiblenmusic, wrote in 1943 a shortn”Elegy’ which he describes as “basicallynone long melodic line accomplishednby slowly changing chords.” Not manyncomposers can pull this sort of thing off.neven for a time span as short as five minutes,nand maintain interest. Barber succeedednsupremely with his famousn”Adagio for Strings.” This piece does notnthreaten to displace it. pleasant thoughnit is. Nonesuch’s sound is very good, as itnshould be for the steep list price ofn$11.95 for a “budget” digital disc, andnGerard Schwarz conducts the Los AngelesnChamber Orchestra with vigor andnprecision. Two of the works on this recordn(the Fine and the Barber) are alreadynavailable on other labels. I hope Nonesuchnwill consider introducing a wholenrecord of otherwise unavailable tonalnAmerican music in future releases.nLouisville Orchestra Records hasnbrought us a good rendition of GeorgenAntheil’s Symphony No. 5 (1947) onnLS-770. Antheil. as a 26-year-old enfantn