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Jacob: Symphonies No 1 & 2 / Wordsworth, London Po

Release Date: 08/07/2007 
Label:  Lyrita   Catalog #: 315   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gordon Jacob
Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Another plus on the Lyrita list: Jacob’s symphonies merit immediate attention

Gordon Jacob’s First Symphony (1929) employs sizeable forces (including triple woodwind and two harps) and has five movements: two feisty and purposeful Allegros frame the whole edifice, while its dashing central Scherzo is flanked by two slow movements, the first of which in particular possesses an elegiac demeanour that accords with the work’s inscription to the memory of the composer’s favourite brother, Anstey (a victim of the Great War – Jacob, too, served in the trenches). It would make a terrific “Guess who?” item: on a first encounter I jotted down the names of Vaughan Williams, Holst, Elgar, Walton, Bliss, Poulenc and Stravinsky. The
Read more more you return to it, however, the more individual the voice that emerges. Barry Wordsworth lends this powerful, criminally neglected discovery clear-headed, fervent advocacy, and the LPO are on their toes throughout. Completed in 1945, the Second Symphony was premiered under Boult in a May 1946 broadcast; Rudolph Schwarz gave the first public performance two years later. Cast in the traditional four movements and described by Jacob as “a meditation on war, suffering and victory”, it’s tautly argued, full of healthy contrapuntal vigour (I was at times reminded of Nielsen) and concludes with a cleverly crafted passacaglia or “Ground” – perhaps subconsciously influenced by, and yet fascinatingly different from, the finale of Vaughan Williams’s roughly contemporaneous Fifth Symphony. Comparison with Bostock’s rival account finds these newcomers generating the greater tonal heft and intensity (especially in the plangent slow movement); otherwise, both teams serve this bracing music admirably.

With its agreeably tangible and airy sonics in the best Lyrita tradition, this stimulating pairing of two impressive home-grown symphonies merits immediate investigation.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone [9/2007]
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 by Gordon Jacob
Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Notes: Composition written: England (1928 - 1929). 
Symphony no 2 in C major by Gordon Jacob
Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943-1944; England 

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