Alongside their British Isles Overtures series, the BBC NOW and the conductor Rumon Gamba launch a project to bring often neglected symphonic poems by British composers to wider attention and fame. This first volume presents some of the most individual, yet rarely heard, British tone poems written in the early twentieth century, by composers ranging from the long-established Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Alwyn to Balfour Gardiner and Granville Bantock, giants in their time. Works include Bantock's atmospheric The Witch of Atlas, based on a poem by Shelley, Frederic Austin's symphonic rhapsody Spring, Gardiner's evocatino of summer A Berkshire Idyll, recorded here for the first time, and Gurney's mysterious A Gloucestershire Rhapsody,Read more never performed before 2010.
This is quite a nice find for lovers of British orchestral music. Spring, by the almost-forgotten Frederic Austin, consists of five fleeting glimpses of the season, not profound but immensely tuneful, and it is an all-but-unknown work. A Gloucestershire Rhapsody, by the hugely underrated Ivor Gurney, has "an elegiac quality absent in the innocent, pre-war sound worlds of even a Ralph Vaughan Williams, and more than that it seems to carry an indefinable intensity. Features fluent, enthusiastic performances by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Rumon Gamba and excellent engineering accomplished at the BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff.
A Gloucestershire Rhapsodyby Ivor Gurney Conductor:
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century Written: 1919-1921; England
A Berkshire Idyllby Henry Balfour Gardiner Conductor:
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century Written: 1913; England
The Solent, impression for orchestraby Ralph Vaughan Williams Conductor:
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century Written: 1903; England
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
Easy on the earsNovember 27, 2017By P. Minault (Sherman Oaks, CA)See All My Reviews"Mighty easy on the ears, and really well played and recorded. Could go under the heading of "music for relaxation." Nothing here sounds imposing or deeply meaningful, but it's rich in pictorial value and romantic charm. I have a fairly large sample of British music from the turn of the century (19th to 20th) but found no duplication. These are little known treasures, full of pleasant surprises."Report Abuse
English IdyllsAugust 18, 2017By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"I'll start with the bottom line. If you love the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederic Delius, and Gerald Finzi and want more of the same, buy this disc. The works may not be familiar, but they'll take you to that same idyllic English countryside as "The First Cuckoo of Spring" or "Egdon Heath." This first installment of Chandos' British Tone Poem series presents a collection of works that all deserve a place in the repertoire. Rumon Gamba and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales received glowing reviews for their Overtures from the British Isles releases. These performances are at the same high level. Under Gamba's direction, the orchestra's sound has a luminous sheen, ideally suited to these impressionistic works. For me, the highlight of the release was Ivor Gurney's "A Gloucestershire Rhapsody." This piece I can only describe as a pleasing amalgam of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gerald Finzi, which a charm all its own. Speaking of RVW, the album ends with his work, "The Solent." This early work is seldom performed but should be more often. This quiet, introspective music rivals RVW's similar passages in his 5th Symphony and "Pilgrim's Progress." Most of these tone poems were inspired by the English countryside, and share a certain sameness of character. Listen to this album from start to finish and you'll hear quiet, serene music with distinctively British harmonies throughout."Report Abuse
British drama and pastoral beautyMarch 19, 2017By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"I was pleased to see this new Chandos series from conductor Rumon Gamba and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Their two British Overtures discs from 2014 and 2016 were excellent, beautifully presented and played. They were made up of many solid, well-written pieces by late Victorian and Edwardian composers; the usual suspects, mainly, but with the odd gem by people like Ethel Smyth and John Ansell. Volume I in the new series, due to be released March 17, 2017, has mainly rather longer works, with the exception of William Alwyn's lovely little 5-minute piece Blackdown: a Tone Poem from the Surrey Hills. As you'd expect from a title like this, along with rhapsodies and an idyll, from Gloucestershire and Berkshire and The Solent, the focus is more on good old English Pastorale, one component of the Overtures discs, and less on the other component, the English Light Music tradition. The disc is well-filled - 76 minutes - and it shows how much I enjoy that English Pastorale style that my interest didn't flag at all. I've taken to listening to this music quite often; it's often soothing, yes, but the best Pastorale pieces - besides the Alwyn, Frederic Austin's Spring and Ivor Gurney's A Gloucestershire Rhapsody - are somehow almost bracing, with some of the objectivity of the naturalist to go along with the more sentimental artist. Sense and Sensibility. My favourite piece on the disc, though, is a more dramatic piece that takes us away from the rich farmland of the English countryside. It's Sir Granville Bantock's setting of Shelley's The Witch of Atlas, and it's full of incident and pictures. You can see the scope of setting this poem from a sample stanza, which Bantock takes full advantage of. VI. And first the spotted cameleopard came, And then the wise and fearless elephant; Then the sly serpent, in the golden flame Of his own volumes intervolved; -- all gaunt And sanguine beasts her gentle looks made tame. They drank before her at her sacred fount; And every beast of beating heart grew bold, Such gentleness and power even to behold. Though he's a generation younger than the Pre-Raphaelite painters, this piece reminded me of the extravagant detail they so often included in their paintings. John William Waterhouse's The Magic Circle (Tate Britain, 1886), is a good example, with a witch protagonist, if not Shelley's. Rumon Gamba and Chandos are doing great work in opening up British music of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I look forward to Volume 2 in this series."Report Abuse