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Bliss: The Beatitudes / Birsan, Johnson, Davis, BBC Symphony

Release Date: 02/02/2018 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5191  
Composer:  Sir Arthur BlissAnonymous
Performer:  Ben JohnsonEmily Birsan
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony OrchestraBBC Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Excelling in recordings of Delius, Elgar, and Holst, Sir Andrew Davis here presents a spirited programme of works by Sir Arthur Bliss. It follows a recording of Morning Heroes that made the top recommendations of 2015; likewise recorded in surround-sound, it conveys the energy of both the exceptional soloists and the impeccable BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Premiered along with Britten’s War Requiem at the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962, but hardly ever heard since, The Beatitudes is remarkable for its dramatic intensity, ‘full of contrast and striking orchestral effects,’ as The Times noted after a recent Barbican performance given by the same forces. The reviewer added that ‘soprano Emily Birsan was silvery clear, Read more well supported by the tenor Ben Johnson. And the biggest round of applause should go to the BBC Symphony Chorus, full of passion.’ To complete the album are an arrangement of the national anthem having all the flair that made the tenur of Bliss as Master of the Queen’s Music distinctive and successful, as well as the virtuosic Introduction and Allegro, dedicated to Stokowski and inspired by the powerful sound of American orchestras post-World War I.



There is no doubting Sir Andrew Davis’s grasp of The Beatitudes, and he steers a broadly authoritative performance, with incisive, committed playing from the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Davis’s punchy, urgent account of the Introduction and Allegro is useful as this is another piece not easy to come by on record.

– BBC Music Magazine

Andrew Davis clearly has a peculiar empathy for this music and the clean edges of Bliss’s orchestral palette, complemented by some lovely playing from the BBC SO and the two soloists, Emily Birsan and Ben Johnson.

– Gramophone Read less

Works on This Recording

The Beatitudes, F 28 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Performer:  Ben Johnson (Tenor), Emily Birsan (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Introduction and Allegro, F 117 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926/1937; England 
God Save The Queen by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus

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