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Bantock: Fifine at the Fair; Bax: Garden of Fand; Berners: Triumph of Neptune / Beecham

Release Date: 01/01/1980 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 63405   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Granville BantockArnold BaxLord (Tyrwhitt) Berners
Performer:  Robert Alva
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic OrchestraLondon Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

In the earlier part of his career Beecham was a strong supporter of contemporary British composers, but he left few recordings of their music, except in the case of Delius, of course. He conducted Bantock's Fifne, a long, luxurious tone-poem, soon after it was first performed in 1912, while The Garden of Fand was one of several Bax compositions which he took into his repertoire.

Lord Berners's Triumph of Neptune was another work he conducted quite frequently over a long period, and he made two recordings of the ballet suite. His later version, made for US Columbia in 1952 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, contained all nine numbers: the earlier version listed above omits two, ''Cloudland'' and ''Frozen Forest''. The music is
Read more charming, imaginative eccentric and full of fun, and Beecham's performance brings out all these qualities to the full. He recorded the seven pieces out of order, however, and I rather wish that the transfer engineers had re-grouped the numbers according to the order of the score. The 1937 sound as transferred is clear and well-detailed but rather lacks tonal depth.

The Bax and Bantock have been reissued more than once on LP, but neither has ever sounded so well as on the present reissue. Until now I have never been a particular admirer of Fifne, but somehow the improved quality brings out the score's atmosphere and personality much more vividly, and Beecham's exquisite handling of detail makes a much greater impact. More than ever is it apparent that Jack Brymer's beautifully played long solo clarinet cadenza was recorded separately from the rest of the score and in a slightly different acoustic, but this is only a very slight distraction.

Bax himself attended the The Garden of Fand recording sessions. Often he could be a very demanding presence at rehearsal, but I can't imagine that he was anything but delighted with Beecham's magically evocative account. There is an extraordinary subtlety in his use of pulse and phrase, and I'm afraid that he puts Bryden Thomson's performance on Chandos (1/84) completely in the shade. An excellent reissue, highly recommended.

-- Gramophone [6/1992]
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Works on This Recording

Fifine at the Fair by Granville Bantock
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901; England 
Date of Recording: 1949 
Garden of Fand by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913-1916; England 
Date of Recording: 1947 
The Triumph of Neptune: Suite by Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners
Performer:  Robert Alva (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; England 
Date of Recording: 1937 

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