From my collection.
Bought in January 2011.
First listen: 3-1-2011.
Second listen: 10-4-2015.
Third listen: 17-5-2017.
Recording dates: December 2001.
Recording venue: Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England.
Recording engineer: Tony Was.
Running time: 79:14.
Relevance to me: Well worth having.
York Bowen. (1884-1961)
Symphony No. 2 in E minor.
Frederic Austin. (1872-1952)
Symphonic Rhapsody, "Spring".
Edgar Bainton. (1880-1956)
Symphonic Movement "Genesis".
[All World Premiere Recordings]
Royal Northern College of Music SO, Douglas Bostock.
The most impressive work on this disc is no doubt the second symphony by Bowen. Pastoral, picturesque, rows of typical English hedges, red poppies, yellow fields of corn, castle ruins, eccentric englishmen, fox hunt, and what not.
This work is full of imagery, and it keeps surprising you at every corner it turns. The scoring is superb, as good if not better as Arnold Bax, certainly if it comes to the skills of orchestrating. Why his works are not more often recorded eludes me. Especially his symphonies, I can't remember ever hearing it or seen it recorded. It is very refined music, with some exquisite tender phrasing in the second movement, especially the strings, silky and velvety come to mind. The pictorial details are a strong asset in his scoring to which this orchestra responds very readily. There are no emotional depths, despite the fact that it is a full blooded romantic work, but it has some thrilling moments and swirling undercurrents of poetic imagery. It is cleanly executed and is brimful with spicy harmonies. There is also some elegiac gravitas, although it does not go very deep. A beautiful work.
Austin's Rhapsody is also a very typical British affair, and the titel "Spring" is very apt. For despite some dark rumblings here and there, it's essentially a light but well composed work, in which you must strain yourself to keep your ears at what you hear. It diverts your thoughts quite easily in picturesque imagery. That is not to say that it is a flighty work, no, it's a well put together work of great creativity. It is close to the sound world of Bowen.
Bainton is an altogether different kettle of fish, well the title says all, "Genesis" and that comes with really big bangs on the timpani, and I mean really Big Bangs, so brace yourself at the end of this piece. At first this work meanders a little bit, as if trying to get to grips with the many melodies that tumble over each other, but somehow Bainton glues it all together in a more coherent context after say 10 minutes, and from thereon it has a powerful building up of tension and loudness. It is well scored, and at the end has a breathtaking intensity, resulting in a powerful energy burst. The closing bars are mysterious, and close off with a dramatic statement. There is a lot of introspection in this work, but not readily accessible. The scoring is rather thick, and it's hard to listen to all the melody lines and not loosing track. It is essentially a dark piece, with a brooding character all on its own. All in all though, I found this compilation very interesting, and experienced contentment as well as a sense of awe, for music and performances.
All three composers deliver late romantic music without getting sticky, or flow over with sentimentality. Just thorough workmanship in the best possible way.
This orchestra is very good! Well rehearsed and very precise in expression. Bostock drilled them into a performing machine, delivering high class interpretations. I doubt it could be done better.
The recording must be labeled as State of the art.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
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