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Dyson: Choral Music / Willcocks, Royal Philharmonic


Release Date: 10/17/2000 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 14   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Dyson
Performer:  Stephen RobertsOsian EllisRichard MarkhamDavid Nettle
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic OrchestraRoyal College of Music Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Good performances of works that should be heard more frequently.

George Dyson is another of those all-too-numerous British composers of the early twentieth century whose regard is not the equal of what his music deserves. Works such as Quo Vadis show tremendous skill and technical ability, as well as musical vision, imagination and innovation. The works on this Somm disc are much smaller than that masterpiece, but are nonetheless impressive in their own ways, and certainly delights to listen to.

The disc opens with the ‘fantasia’ In Honour of the City, a musical description of mediaeval London, with texts dating from the turn of the fifteenth/sixteenth century, by Dunbar. Here, David Willcocks with the
Read more Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir give the work a flamboyant performance, full of joy and panache, and suitably raucous. One felt that it was possibly slightly rushed towards the ending, but the swift pace is not otherwise to its detriment, but rather lends a further sense of high-spirits.

Sweet Thames, Run Softly is a cantata setting of Spenser’s poem of 1596, Prothalamion, written in honour of double marriage of the Earl of Worcester’s two daughters, who sailed up the Thames to Temple to be married at the home of the Earl of Essex. It is an engaging, serene and radiantly beautiful piece, excellently played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Stephen Roberts is good as the solo baritone, with his powerful voice and splendid enunciation.

Spring Garland follows - a cycle of Herrick poems about rural life, that are here sung very gently and tenderly by an aptly mellifluous Royal College of Music Chamber Choir.

Dyson’s father was a blacksmith, and this setting of an anonymous fourteenth century mediaeval Middle English text, updated by Dyson and his wife, was dedicated to his father. Blacksmiths is a dramatic work, here given an enthusiastic performance that brings out the verve and energy of the work, yet it dies away to a gentle ending, when the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir sing tenderly, accompanied by translucent strings from the RPO. Beautiful.

The disc concludes with To Music – another Herrick setting. This is a lovely ending to a thoroughly enjoyable disc, with some excellent part-singing from the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir.

Good performances of works that should be heard more frequently.

-- Em Marshall, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. In Honour of the City by George Dyson
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal College of Music Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; England 
Length: 14 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: English 
2. Sweet Thames run softly by George Dyson
Performer:  Stephen Roberts (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal College of Music Chamber Choir
Written: 1955 
Length: 24 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: English 
3. To Music by George Dyson
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal College of Music Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: English 
4. A Spring Garden by George Dyson
Performer:  Osian Ellis (Harp)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal College of Music Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; England 
Length: 14 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: English 
5. The Blacksmiths by George Dyson
Performer:  Richard Markham (Piano), David Nettle (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal College of Music Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; England 
Length: 13 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

In Honour of the City
Sweet Thames Run Softly
A Spring Garland
The Blacksmiths
To Music

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