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Sir Adrian Boult - The Complete Conductor

Holst / Howells / Walton / Bbc Sym Orch / Boult
Release Date: 02/25/2014 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 1927023   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sir Edward ElgarGustav HolstRobert SimpsonSir Arthur Bliss,   ... 
Performer:  Felicity Palmer
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony OrchestraLondon Philharmonic OrchestraNew Philharmonia Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

It’s a bit of a shock for an old-timer like me to see the name Warner Classics emblazoned on a bulky box devoted to the EMI recordings of Adrian Boult. Times, however, move on, and one of the impressive things about this latest release devoted to the legacy of the conductor is quite how many things are new to CD here.

I think it’s wisest to note what we have rather than get bogged down in post-facto questions as to superiority of particular versions, whether by Boult or by other conductors. That said, lest you think I’ve skipped through this set fast-forwarding, I haven’t. Such has been the interest that I’ve listened throughout even when the recordings are well known. In the case of The Planets, we need to adjust that to
Read more very well-known. Indeed the first three discs contain the three commercial recordings for EMI that he left behind; 1945, 1966 and 1978. Each is very different. He never replicated the wartime recording in terms of rapidity and rhythmic bite, even in late live concert performances when, Toscanini-like, he could be fast indeed. Just a few pointers; the 1966 New Philharmonia is, in some cases, the anomalous recording of the three with some very pointedly slow movements - Venus, Saturn and Neptune especially. That said, by the time of the LPO 1978 readings Mars has slowed considerably, and the other movements have reverted, largely, to a more thrusting tempo. If you really want your Planets fix from Boult you’ll need the Nixa and Westminster recordings too.

CD 1 also has a terrific Elgar Introduction and Allegro from 1937 with his BBC Symphony. The quartet is well balanced and full of great names - leader Paul Beard, Barry Squire, principal of the seconds, violist Bernard Shore, and cellist Ambrose Gauntlett. His 1972 EMI recording is better-known, and certainly more circulated than the World Record Club LP of 1961, but this 1937 reading is full of vibrant strength. The second CD, which houses the 1966 Planets, also contains a 2002 transfer of Robert Simpson’s Symphony No.1, recorded in 1956 with the LPO. It’s a good example of Boult’s confident handling of contemporary symphonic repertoire during his tenure as principal conductor of the LPO. The third disc contains Howells’s Concerto for String Orchestra from 1973 in this 1999 transfer. It too sports a quartet of soloists and has an especially lovely slow movement. This was very much Boult’s kind of thing and the folklorically-flecked finale goes with passion.

Disc 4 has Holst’s A Choral Symphony. I rather cheated here as I have already reviewed this, in the same 1985 transfer, in a box devoted to Holst [EMI 4 40472 2] so merely note it here as an indispensable stereo performance. Bliss’s Music for Strings is heard in the 1974 LPO performance, not the 1937 78 set. Bliss was present for the 1974 sessions and must have enjoyed the way Boult explored the music’s compelling texture. Disc 5 is all-Parry. The Symphony No.5 was, famously, Boult’s own choice as studio swansong. He’d performed the Symphonic Variations with the LSO in 1918, a concert at which Parry had been present, and Boult retained a high regard for the composer. He plays it again in the same sessions as the Symphony, and it’s a perfect fit for a man whose connection with the work stretched back sixty years. The slow movement of the Symphony is one of the most emotively expressive of all Boult performances. The Elegy for Brahms is also here, and so too is the 1965 Blest Pair of Sirens - but not, note, the 1948 recording of the same work.

These Parry performances have all appeared before but when we reach disc six we encounter things that have been languishing. There are two recordings of Walton’s Crown Imperial; one from 1977 and the other from 1937, the year it was composed. The later version is with the LPO, the pre-war with the BBC SO and organist Berkeley Mason. There are also two performances of Portsmouth Point (1967, 1936). The stereo has been reissued before, but I’m not so sure about the BBC SO version. There is a series of 1967 sweetmeats that will be new to many. They include Jeremiah Clarke’s you-know-what (the trumpeter is Rodney Webb of the LPO) in a very bold performance, the British Grenadiers in Stanford Robinson’s solid arrangement, and a series of marches; RAF March Past (Walford Davies), Lilliburlero in the Purcell-Kenneth Alford arrangement, Alford’s own Colonel Bogey, then Coates’s Dambusters. Boult loved this last. Then there are some important early things; the wartime Butterworth A Shropshire Lad with the Hallé, and Ethel Smyth’s Entente cordiale and Fête galante with the Light Symphony Orchestra in 1939,that some will know from LP transfers. Indeed many of the British pieces I’ve noted in this disc were released on an HMV Treasury LP called ‘Sir Adrian Boult conducts a concert of English Music’ [ED 2910921]. It might have been a nice touch to have included others, such as the 1937 Elgar Sospiri and the 1934 Gerontius Prelude. A discographical point to remember is that he recorded the Butterworth at only his second recording session, back in 1920. He supplemented it, if I can put it that way, in 1954 for Decca and for Lyrita in 1973.

CD 7 reissues all-Tchaikovsky. The Orchestral Suite No.3 in G is splendid and dates from 1974, and presented in a 1989 transfer. If you’ve heard Beulah’s transfer of Boult’s 1955 recording of the Suite you’ll know how underrated a Tchaikovsky conductor Boult could be. That Beulah also contained his recording of the Polish Symphony from 1956 but here we have some blockbusters from 1974, re-mastered back in 1995; Capriccio italien, Marche slave and the Gopak from Mazeppa. Disc 8 continues the theme russe. A rather chaste Romeo and Juliet, which he had first recorded in 1959, is heard in the 1966 EMI, and there are some delightful examples of his flair for ballet in the shape of the Op.71a suite from The Nutcracker and the Op.66 Sleeping Beauty suite, bot from 1967 and I suspect making their first CD appearances. The 1812 overture opens CD9. It was a work he’d recorded back in 1952 with the LPO. There’s also The Snow Maiden’s Dance of the Tumblers, Mlada and the Capriccio espagnol to represent his meagre Rimsky-Korsakov discography. If you want to find any Stravinsky in his discography, you’ll have a hard job but there is a morsel - the Circus Polka, taped in 1967, and making inaugural CD appearance here. There are orchestral excerpts from The Bartered Bride and Vltava from Má Vlast (sluggish) - but when will someone release his wartime set of the cycle that the BBC recorded?

The final disc is a liquorice allsorts, all making 2013 CD debut. It’s a light-hearted selection, popular in the extreme, ranging from the Dance of the Hours, the Danse macabre, to the Ritual Fire Dance. And then things go superficially very un-Boult like with a rather bizarre sequence of Americana - The Battle Hymn of the Republic, four Sousa Marches, Anchors Aweigh, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture and Richard Rodgers’ Guadalcanal March. No question, however, that for the Boult Completist - are there many? - this is a must-have.

There is a four-page and one-column note about the trajectory of Boult’s career, which is also translated into French and German. At its competitive price this makes a strong appeal, though multiple performance of The Planets may well put off some prospective purchasers, especially those for whom one or other of Boult’s recordings is very much terra cognita. The 1937 and 1967 recordings in particular, and indeed all those making CD appearances for the first time deserve an enthusiastic welcome.

– MusicWeb International (Jonathan Woolf) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet and String Orchestra, Op. 47 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904-1905; England 
2.
The Planets, Op. 32/H 125 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; England 
Date of Recording: 1979 
3.
The Planets, Op. 32/H 125 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; England 
4.
The Planets, Op. 32/H 125 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Ambrosian Ladies Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; England 
Date of Recording: 1966 
5.
Symphony no 1 by Robert Simpson
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; England 
6.
First Choral Symphony, Op. 41/H 155 by Gustav Holst
Performer:  Felicity Palmer (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1924; England 
Length: 49 Minutes 30 Secs. 
7.
Music for Strings, F 123 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; England 
8.
Concerto for Strings by Herbert Howells
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; England 
9.
Symphony no 5 in B minor "Symphonic fantasia" by Charles Hubert Parry
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
10.
Elegy for Brahms by Charles Hubert Parry
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; England 
11.
Blest Pair of Sirens (At a Solemn Music) by Charles Hubert Parry
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; England 
12.
Symphonic Variations in E minor by Charles Hubert Parry
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; England 
13.
Washington Post by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
14.
The British Grenadiers by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1770; England 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
15.
Under the Double Eagle, Op. 159 by Josef Franz Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
16.
Colonel Bogey by Kenneth Alford
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1913; England 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
17.
Lillibulero by Traditional
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
18.
Liberty Bell by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
19.
Battle Hymn of the Republic by William Steffe
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
20.
The Dam Busters by Eric Coates
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; England 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
21.
El Capitan (march) by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
22.
Victory at Sea: Guadalcanal March by Richard Rodgers
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952-1954; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
23.
Old Comrades by Carl Teike
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
24.
March for the Royal Air Force by Henry Walford Davies
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
25.
Anchors Aweigh by Charles A. Zimmerman
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
26.
Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
27.
A Shropshire Lad by George Butterworth
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; England 
28.
Interlinked French Melodies (2) from "Entente cordiale" by Smyth, Ethel, Dame
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Light Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; England 
29.
Fête galante: Minuet by Smyth, Ethel, Dame
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Light Symphony Orchestra
30.
Portsmouth Point by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; England 
31.
Coronation March "Crown Imperial" by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; England 
32.
Suite for Orchestra no 3 in G major, Op. 55 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Russia 
33.
Capriccio italien, Op. 45 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
34.
Marche slave, Op. 31 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
35.
Mazeppa: Cossack Dance by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1883; Russia 
36.
1812 Overture, Op. 49 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
37.
Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1880; Russia 
38.
Russlan and Ludmilla: Overture by Mikhail Glinka
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837-1842; Russia 
39.
Circus Polka by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
40.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Polka by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863/1870; Czech Republic 
41.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Overture by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1866 
42.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Furiant by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863/1870; Czech Republic 
43.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Dance of the Comedians by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863/1870; Bohemia 
44.
Má vlast: no 2, Moldau, T 111 by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Czech Republic 
45.
Sleeping Beauty Suite, Op. 66a by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Russia 
46.
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
47.
I gioielli della Madonna: Act 2 Intermezzo by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1911 
48.
La Gioconda: Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Italy 
49.
Danse macabre in G minor, Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; France 
50.
El amor brujo: Danza rituel del fuego "Ritual Fire Dance" by Manuel de Falla
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
51.
Cuban Overture by George Gershwin
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; USA 
52.
Snow Maiden: Suite - Dance of the Tumblers by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880/1895; Russia 
53.
Mlada: Procession of the Nobles by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1872 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Not Boult's Best March 28, 2014 By J. Graham (Lansing, MI) See All My Reviews "I am a great admirer of Sir Adrian Boult's music-making, so I had to add this set to my collection. It's definitely a mixed bag. You get two exceptional performances of Holst's "The Planets," with the BBC SO from 1945 and with the New Philharmonia from 1966, as well as the less successful LPO recording from 1978 (when Boult was 89). This last performance lacks the drive of 1945 and the sweep of 1966. To me, it sounds tired. I like Simpson's little-known Symphony No. 1 and Parry's Symphony No. 5. The discs of marches reveal a lot of swagger and verve, and are quite enjoyable. I don't find the performances of Tchaikovsky and other Russian and miscellaneous works very successful; workmanlike but uninspired (or even uninvolved). The previous Boult compendium, Bach to Wagner, is a real gem and shouldn't be missed. This one doesn't come close to matching it." Report Abuse
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