Macbeth tone poem has no specifically
Scottish accent although there is the
occasional bagpipe skirl. A memorable
piece, it has lashings of bel canto
and an overall idiom that relates it
to Beethoven (symphonies 4 and 8), Ries
and Weber. It is no surprise to read
that Pierson spent much of his life
in Germany. Like Holbrooke and d’Albert
he even changed his name to make it
more Teutonic. I'd like to hear more
Pierson. In this era of recorded revivals
there is surely no reason, apart from
performing materials issues, why we
should not also hear his Hamlet and
the overtures As You Like It
and Romeo and Juliet.
Handley's reading of
the Alan Rawsthorne's Fantasy Overture:
Cortèges shows a composer
of broader and more varied palette than
we might have presumed from the Symphonic
Studies and Symphony No.1. This
work is about processions of various
sorts from grand and sombre to carnival
cavalcades. While there are plenty of
Rawsthorne hallmarks much of the music
is surprisingly varied and delightful.
There is also an element familiar from
the macabre King Pest mood of
Rawsthorne's friend Constant Lambert.
In length it is closer to a tone poem
than the typical concert overture. A
bristlingly inventive score it holds
a few surprises for people like me who
think they know their Rawsthorne.
The piece ends with a quiet tarantella
impudence before the street revellers
curl up to sleep.
David Morgan was a
pupil of Alan Bush and Leighton Lucas
at the RAM. He was accorded the honour
of an LP from Lyrita coupling his Violin
Concerto and the present piece in 1974.
Lyrita must have plans for a different
coupling for the Violin Concerto which
was premiered in Prague in 1967. I see
there is also an as yet unrecorded Sinfonia
da Requiem which gives "a personal,
not a political reaction to the events
of August 1968". Its mood is seemingly
reflected in the first movement of Contrasts.
His Spring Carnival Overture (not
on disc) is apparently akin to the music
of the second movement. Contrasts
is in two movements and is dedicated
to the memory of Shostakovich. It's
a work of subdued tones and intimations
of darkness especially in the first
movement. The subtle brilliance of this
recording can be heard at tr. 3, 5.51
where the sustained resonance of a gong-stroke
is grippingly put across - a delight.
In the last movement wheeling and darting
brilliance combines with a slightly
Chagrin was active
in the worlds of concert music and film.
His Helter Skelter overture bestrides
the two being based on music he had
written for the frothy 1949 film of
the same name. Its not quite as pell-mell
as you might expect from the title but
the atmosphere is certainly as jaunty
and uproarious as the cinema music of
Auric. Peter Warlock's Serenade for
Strings is given a rather pressed
performance - more lilt and less impatience
would have helped as it did when it
was recorded for EMI Classics by
Norman del Mar in the late 1960s. It
is no surprise that it was written in
1922 for Delius's sixtieth birthday.
While Braithwaite might well have miscalculated
on the Warlock he is just confidently
magnificent in Beckus the Dandipratt
which needs and here gets flighted
energy, a twist and a skirl as well
as a rambunctious snarl and volatility.
This is for me the best and most rewarding
reading the overture has had even allowing
for the composer's own and that of Vernon
Handley. Every detail tells whether
it is in Rowlandson-style street hurly-burly
or Ealing era insouciance.
The notes are by the
always thoughtful and invaluably reflective
Paul Conway. More please.
The motley nature of
this collection and the imperative to
use recordings cut loose by other, usually
composer-themed, collections does not
stop this assemblage having its own
very welcome bouquet.
SRCD.200 Sir Malcolm Arnold Symphony
SRCD.201 Sir Malcolm Arnold English,
Irish, Scottish, Cornish Dances
SRCD.255 Rawsthorne Piano Concertos
Nos. 1 & 2
SRCD.257 Rawsthorne Divertimento
SRCD.291 Rawsthorne Symphonies Nos.
1, 2 & 3