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Bliss: Introduction And Allegro, Concerto For Cello & Orchestra, Meditiations


Release Date: 05/20/2002 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 470186   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
Performer:  Robert CohenAlfredo Campoli
Conductor:  Barry WordsworthElgar HowarthBernard HerrmannArthur Bliss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic OrchestraPhilip Jones Brass EnsembleNational Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The British Collection is a new series of Decca reissues, containing some single discs and some double sets. This 2CD collection of music by Sir Arthur Bliss contains some enterprising repertoire in good recordings and performances, though the dates stretch across a period of nearly forty years, from 1955 to 1993. And inevitably the difference shows.

Although it is good to have the composer's own performances in acceptable sound, which is good for its time, the 'three bonus tracks' which the second disc contains do offer a duplication of the Introduction and Allegro which is already present on disc one. While this makes for intriguing comparisons, it still begs the question of whether the Decca archives might contain another
Read more Bliss piece which could have more usefully extended the repertoire offered here.

Wordsworth's 1993 recordings have good sound and secure well played performances. Robert Cohen is an able soloist in the splendidly lively Cello Concerto, a work which still lacks the recognition it deserves. What a pity it is that this music is so overshadowed by the Elgar Concerto, masterpiece though that work is. The Introduction and Allegro, featured twice in this compilation, is a good example of Bliss's mastery of texture and line, extended across a powerful line of development. Both Wordsworth and the composer himself have plenty to offer, though the latter inevitably has special things to say about the music. On the other hand, the more recent 1993 sound allows for many details of orchestration to be heard to advantage.

The finest music to be found here is surely the Meditations on a theme of John Blow, which was composed in the mid-1950s as a set of variations on the Psalm 'The Lord in My Shepherd, and Blow's noble theme from the 17th century, which is only revealed in its true glory at the close. Wordsworth presents the music with due care and attention to detail, but his performance is less inspiring than Handley's on EMI (alas now deleted). Nevertheless, for those who want to explore the music of this neglected British master, this piece is one of the most rewarding of all his creations - one of the great works of 20th century British music.

The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble in its heyday was without peer, as these performances confirm. None of the pieces they play would rank as a blazing masterpiece, but all are recorded to advantage in sound which brings out the music's many felicities.

The booklet and general documentation do not come up to Decca's usually high standards, I'm afraid. The booklet notes are on the short side, even though the final two pages (or three if you include the back cover) contain nothing of any value. So, all in all, two cheers rather than three.

-- Terry Barfoot, MusicWeb International [1/2002]
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Introduction and Allegro, T 40 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926/1937; England 
2. Concerto for Cello, F 107 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Performer:  Robert Cohen (Cello)
Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; England 
3. Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, F 118 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; England 
4. Antiphonal Flourish for Three Brass Choirs by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Elgar Howarth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
5. Flourish for Two Brass Orchestras "Greetings to a City" by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Elgar Howarth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
6. Fanfare for the Lord Mayor of London by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Elgar Howarth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
7. Things to Come, F 131: Suite by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934-1935; England 
8. Welcome the Queen, F 95 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Arthur Bliss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; England 
9. Theme and Cadenza for Violin and Orchestra, T 66 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Performer:  Alfredo Campoli (Violin)
Conductor:  Arthur Bliss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
10. Introduction and Allegro, T 40 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Arthur Bliss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926/1937; England 

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