Symphony 1940/ Symphony No. 2/
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|1. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Andante, molto tranquillo|
|2. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Allegro vivace|
|3. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Piu allegro|
|4. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Maestoso piu lento|
|5. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Molto vivace, scherzando|
|6. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Poco piu mosso|
|7. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Allegro vivace|
|8. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Adagio|
|9. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Molto maestoso|
|10. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Piu lento|
|11. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Lento|
|12. Symphony No. 2 in D minor: Molto maestoso|
|13. Serenade For Small Orchestra|
|14. Symphony 1940: I Moderato con anima|
|15. Symphony 1940: II Scherzo|
|16. Symphony 1940: III Adagio|
|17. Symphony 1940: IV Allegro Molto|
The strand that connects all three composers on this characteristically bold Chandos release is Australia. Hubert Clifford (1904-59) and his good friend John Gough (1903-51) hail from Victoria and Tasmania respectively (and both, spookily enough, ended up in London working for the BBC),whereas Englishman Edgar Bainton (1880-1956) emigrated to Sydney in 1934 to take up the directorship of the New South Wales State Conservatory. Of the two large-scale symphonies so eloquently realised here by Vernon Handley and the BBC Philharmonic, Bainton's second of 1939-40 is perhaps the more striking. Some 27 minutes in duration, it's cast in a single movement made up of a dozen sections. Fortunately, the symphonic argument is easily grasped, and Bainton's unfailingly evocative and imaginative scoring falls most gratefully on the ear. Clifford's Symphony 1940 is impressive too, though its bitter-sweet lyricism and unashamedly epic demeanour unavoidably prompt comparisons with Walton's masterly first symphony of a few years previous (next to which it seems like pretty small fry). Gough's miniature Serenade (written in 1931 for Clifford's wedding) forms a toothsome bonne bouche between the two main courses. Terrific Chandos sound complements the outstandingly sympathetic music-making. --Andrew Achenbach
Top Customer Reviews
Hubert Clifford's four-movement Symphony in D Minor (1938-1940) shares the similar idioms of the 1930s English music. Clifford's work is purly epic and optimistic, a premonition of life and of spring, and is not far from the optimism of Delius and later Malcolm Arnold's earlier symphonies. The Symphony is wholly attractive and compelling, with its thematic ideas distinctive and fresh. The Serenade of John Gough is a nice and memorable filler to this enterprising compact disc.
And this disc is enterprising. Vernon Handley and the BBC Philharmonic altogether gave the performances of the works with such a force, emotionalism, passion, and admiration that listening to them makes me want to get up and suggest to various North American orchestras to perform them as well (believe or not, music of Great Britain is not well-represented in North America or even in European countries outside Great Britain or Ireland). As usual, the Chandos recordings provide full, natural, and accurate sound. Well done!
May I hope for further recordings and releases of Clifford, Gough, and Bainton's works?
Hurry! Get this disc! (even though Chandos is the only recording company that never delete their recordings).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Hubert Clifford's four-movement Symphony in D Minor (1938-1940) shares the similar idioms of the 1930s English music. More traditional in structure than Bainton’s Second, its mood is decidedly brighter yet less varied, very much in the neighborhood of Delius at his most pastoral or of Malcolm Arnold's earlier symphonies at their jauntiness. As with Bainton, Clifford’s language is very much his own, and his Symphony brings that well to the fore. John Gough’s Serenade is a wonderful filler in this enterprising compact disc.
As customary with this great conductor, Vernon Handley wastes no time in getting to the bones of the matter and keeping things moving, not allowing ideas to linger and yet not cheating them of their expressiveness. There’s nothing plodding or rushing here, and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is absolutely superb (aided by Chandos’ reverberate yet penetrating recorded sound). Bainton, incidentally, recorded his very fine Second Symphony with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with their performance that is of vim and vigor. But what it lacks is the poetry Handley and his force capture so well. But I for one would like to see that recording re-issued, but despite acoustic challenges, this document is important. But for now, do enjoy this great album.
I was, in fact, more impressed with the Symphony 1940 by Hubert Clifford (1904-1959). What I had previously encountered of Clifford’s music has primarily been picturesque, lighter music, but this symphony is a serious, ambitious and imposing work. Though definitely tonal, it is not primarily a melodic work, yet Clifford spins his motifs into a convincing large-scale structure with effectively shaped climaxes and imaginative touches – the work manages to sustain its rather substantial length well. Stylistically there are once again touches of Sibelius, but even more clearly Clifford’s teacher Vaughan Williams, with some post-Wagnerian textures and a bit of almost Elgarian swagger.
In between the two substantial works we get a brief, pleasant and light Serenade by John Gough (1903-1951), a composer I had not encountered before. It is a moving little piece, but rather out of place between the two substantial symphonies. Everything, however, is superbly performed by the BBC Philharmonic under the masterly direction of the ever-dependable Vernon Handley, and the Chandos sound is spectacular, as usual. In the end, this is a valuable if not ultimately indispensable release, recommended in particular for the Clifford, well worth the attention of any fan of twentieth century orchestral music.
This CD puts forth the work of three Aussie composers that were trained in London's Royal Academy of Music -- Edgar Bainton (1880-1956), John Gough (1903-1951) and Hubert Clifford (1904-1959). The symphonies from Bainton and Clifford -- both students of Stanford (Bainton was a friend of Holst and Clifford also studied with Vaughan Williams) reflect common thematic material in England during the period of their compositions and both works show the influence of popular British symphonists.
Bainton's Symphony No. 2 in D minor from 1939-40 (but not introduced until after the war) begins the program. Reminiscent in design to Granville Bantock's "Hebridean" symphony, the opus is in 12 disparate parts, a few of which cause the orchestra to stop and restart. The musical language is clearly Elgarian with touches of Britten, Holst and French impressionism entering at various times. Even though the symphony mimics Bantock's "Hebridean", it shares none of its likeness to Richard Strauss. This music is clearly modeled after the Edwardian influence on Elgar and teacher Stanford.
Gough's 2-minute "Serenade from small orchestra" is a trilfe hardly worth mentioning. Clifford's "Symphony 1940" from 1938-40 is Waltonesque and a possible tribute to Sibelius, a composer popular in Britian diring the 1930s. The opening Moderato con anima is lightly sprung in major keys, using high brass and strings to promote its happy message. The following Scherzo is more jollity in major keys and the lengthy Adagio that follows (15:43) varies little stylistically or spiritually from the two opening movements. The concluding Allegro molto begins in a quieter, darker cadence but sheds it skin and travels in lively brass figures. It wears much like the opening movements, ending in a explosion of sound.
If I sound less enthusiastic than other reviewers here, there's good reason for that. Amazon recommended this CD to me after I bought one of Davis's recent Elgar symphonies. The sound bytes were interesting and I bit. Having digested the contents of this CD, I would say there is not a single thing individual or a single memorable theme herein. Veteran British conductor Vernon Handley and the BBC Philharmonic wring out what there is in these scores. If this represents the state of the symphony from Australia, it's little wonder we know nothing about it.