Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Reviews from other months
BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-76) Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes (1945) [22:58] *  Young Apollo (1939) [8:02] ** Suite from Death in Venice (arr Steuart Bedford) (1976) [26:53] ***  Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (1937) [29:32] **  Lachrymae - Reflections on a song of John Dowland (1950, 1976) [16:12] **  Simple Symphony (1934) [18:23 ]** * Ulster Orchestra/Vernon Handley ** I Musici de Montréal/Yuli Turovsky *** English Chamber Orchestra/Steuart Bedford Rivka Golani (viola) in Lachrymae Recorded Ulster Hall, Belfast, 26 March 1986 (Grimes); Tooting 27 Nov 1984 (Death in Venice); Paroisse La Nativité, Montréal, 3-4 June 1989 (remainder) CHANDOS 2for1  CHAN 241-2 [122:20]





These Chandos repackagings are well worth your attention if the repertoire suits. While the most recent recording dates from 1990 this is no disadvantage as the sound is uniformly lively as are the performances.

Outstanding are the athletic performances by I Musici de Montreal conducted by, Chandos stalwart, Yuli Turovsky. These are recorded in a vibrant acoustic which draws you into the orchestra in an experience which is always pleasurable and never oppressive. Most of the pieces are well known and require little comment from me. The Apollo track is the work of a brilliant young man. Its dalliance with peppery effects remains exciting and engaging. The Simple Symphony and the Bridge Variations are simply amongst the best recordings in the catalogue. The finale of the Simple Symphony surprised me by its relationship and similarity with the Tippett Concerto for Double String Orchestra. Lachrymae is a tougher piece but it is touchingly done by Rivka Golani; quite a feat given that it is not a piece focused on beauty.

I find the desiccated music which forms the suite from Death in Venice about as loveable as the opera itself: i.e. not very much. However it is here for anyone at all curious.

Finally I have high praise for Vernon Handley in the Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Grimes. The sequence is really incomplete without that almost operatic passacaglia. Handley's storm scene is all grey pebbles, a giant firmament wild with massive grey clouds and large heavy raindrops. I am afraid I would still give the top recommendation to André Previn's late 1970s EMI recording but the Handley is special. The lively sound and bustling activity reminded me that these same forces recorded the Bax Fourth Symphony (another sea picture) during the same decade.

Superb cover art: 'In the store during a pause from fishing' by Peder Severin. The picture is very apposite and it 'sings well' with the music - well the Grimes anyway.

Good notes taken from the original releases.

Minor gripe: Why not give total playing time for both discs. This is nice candid feature seen on some other 'Twofer' series.

Warmly recommended.


Rob Barnett


Ian Lace

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