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Lambert: Horoscope; Bliss: Checkmate; Walton: Facade


Release Date: 07/08/2003 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55099   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Constant LambertSir William WaltonSir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Northern Philharmonia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It is a joy to welcome, at last on CD, a major British ballet score (comparable in appeal to Walton's Facade with which, happily, it is coupled). It is quite incredible that Constant Lambert's Horoscope last appeared on record nearly 40 years ago, in the early 1950s, then admirably conducted by Robert Irving. That early Decca LP, very much a mono demonstration disc in its day (7/53) was much treasured by me, and I have never forgotten the catchy syncopated tune which appears early in the "Dance for the followers of Leo" and returns in essence, no less unforgettably, in the "Bacchanale". In between come the wistfully haunting "Sarabande for the followers of Virgo" (played here with much grace and tenderness) and Read more the "Valse for the Gemini", perhaps the most delectable waltz written by an English composer, if one regards the Walton number in Facade as essentially a parody. The closing "Invocation to the Moon" opens with a flavour of Respighi, but otherwise this is a highly individual score that is somehow very English.

Horoscope is played here with striking freshness and though I remember the sound of the old Decca LP as being somewhat more leonine and thus especially suitable for ballet-pit scoring, the more expansive Hyperion is easy to enjoy. Certainly when one compares David Lloyd-Jones's excellent performance of the better-known Checkmate of Arthur Bliss, with the earlier Chandos version (also very fine) under Vernon Handley the effect—partly the recording acoustic, which is slightly less resonant on Hyperion—is rather more balletic, less 'symphonic' in feeling. The difference is not great, for both Lloyd-Jones and Handley respond to Bliss's lyricism very warmly, but (for instance) the side drum in "The Red Knight's Mazurka" brings a slightly sharper focus on Hyperion.

What makes this new CD particularly enticing is the inclusion of the two Façade suites, welcome (for once) away from the spoken poems. This is music that in a witty performance can really make one smile and even chuckle. So it is here, especially the "Tango Pasodoble" with a delicious lilt for "I do like to be beside the seaside" contrasting with its Offenbachian gusto, the "Swiss Yodelling Song" with its droll Rossini quotation and refined mock-melancholy, then the contrast of the charmingly insouciant "Country Dance", and the irresistibly humorous "Polka" that just manages not to be vulgar. All are quite ideally paced and the solo wind playing is a constant delight. The recording with its bloom and clarity is near perfect. All in all a disc not to be missed, one I shall bear in mind for my "Critics' Choice" in December.

-- Gramophone [3/1991]
reviewing the original release of this title, Hyperion 66436
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Works on This Recording

1.
Horoscope by Constant Lambert
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Northern Philharmonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; England 
Date of Recording: 06/1990 
2.
Façade Suite by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Northern Philharmonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; England 
Date of Recording: 06/1990 
3.
Checkmate, F 2: Suite by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Northern Philharmonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; England 
Date of Recording: 06/1990 

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