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The Crown Imperial / Higgins, London Symphonic Concert Band


Release Date: 10/14/2014 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 138   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  John Philip SousaCamille Saint-SaënsAlexander MackenziePercy Godfrey,   ... 
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an interesting and imaginative concept, a mix of celebrated and little known and/or forgotten pieces composed for 20th century coronations. The mix shows commendable variety too in that the ear does not tire from an overindulgence of pomp.

The newly formed London Symphonic Concert Band of some fifty musicians has been assembled from leading symphony orchestras and concert and armed services bands. This is its first recording. All pieces except the Sousa March have been arranged for wind band.

The brief Imperial Edward March, composed by the American John Philip Sousa, was written for the new but yet uncrowned King Edward VI for performance when Sousa was invited to the Royal Sandringham estate - in
Read more Norfolk, England. It is a swaggering quick march full of thrust and energetic youthfulness. Saint-Saëns’s Coronation March is appreciably longer, noble and more contemplative and a tad liturgical in character.

The remainder of the program is given over to works by British composers.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie was Principal at London’s Royal Academy of Music when it was in Tenterden Street. His quick march has an outdoor breezy flavor. I somehow associated it with either the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force — more with the latter. Eric Coates was welcomed into the Academy by Mackenzie and indeed, I felt I could detect a Mackenzie influence on Coates’ own marches.

Percy Godfrey’s Coronation March was a winning entry in a public competition for ceremonial works. Godfrey was music master at King’s School Canterbury. This march’s opening anticipates Walton’s Orb and Sceptre. Its trio section is softer, quieter and more intimate and might be thought of as suitable for weddings.

Considering the tenuous links of some of these pieces with Edward VII’s coronation but granted that Elgar contributed nothing to Edward VII’s Coronation Service, one might query why Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 was not included. After all its theme was utilized in the grand final movement of the composer’s Coronation Ode and the King, himself had suggested adding words to Elgar’s majestic music. There would have been time to include a wind band arrangement. Nevertheless, two Elgar items are included here. His 1911 Coronation March is muted and solemn in character and Tom Higgins’ arrangement seems to have over-accentuated that solemnity in its opening pages. The Crown of India march here is not the popular ‘March of the Mogul Emperors’ but a somewhat less memorable piece - a sort of sub-Pomp and Circumstance work but with a more appealing trio section.

Sir Edward German, so famous for his light operas Tom Jones and Merrie England, created a much more joyful and optimistic Coronation March with a lot more brio. Incidentally again I believe I detect a pre-echo of Eric Coates who was known to admire German’s music.

Walton’s two celebrated Coronation Marches come off well with Crown Imperial, for the most part, having plenty of vigor and thrust; and Orb and Sceptre having a little cheeky syncopation and interesting jazzy inflections in this arrangement.

Arnold Bax, ever the escapist romantic dreamer of isolated Celtic locations rich in legend and prey to wild stormy seas, was never comfortable writing ceremonial music. This march demonstrates this discomfort – he even uses heroic music he originally wrote for the film Malta GC for this Coronation March, his final orchestral piece. He died in County Cork in the October of Elizabeth II’s coronation year. By contrast, Sir Arthur Bliss’s Welcome the Queen, celebrating Her Majesty’s Commonwealth tour soon after her Coronation, is much more enthusiastic; it’s thrilling and majestic.

A most interesting and adventurous collection.

– MusicWeb International (Ian Lace) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Imperial Edward by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; USA 
2.
Spartacus: Marche du couronnement Op. 117 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
3.
Coronation March, Op. 63 by Alexander Mackenzie
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
4.
Coronation March by Percy Godfrey
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
5.
Coronation March, Op. 65 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911; England 
6.
Coronation March and Hymn, for orchestra by Edward German
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: Modern 
Written: 1911 
7.
The Crown of India, Op. 66: Suite by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; England 
8.
Coronation March "Crown Imperial" by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; England 
9.
Coronation March "Orb and Sceptre" by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; England 
10.
Coronation March by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; England 
11.
Welcome the Queen March, Op. 95 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Tom Higgins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band

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