George Dyson is
another of those all-too-numerous British composers of the early
twentieth century whose regard is not the equal of what his
music deserves. Works such as Quo Vadis show tremendous
skill and technical ability, as well as musical vision, imagination
and innovation. The works on this Somm disc are much smaller
than that masterpiece, but are nonetheless impressive in their
own ways, and certainly delights to listen to.
The disc opens with
the ‘fantasia’ In Honour of the City, a musical description
of mediaeval London, with texts dating from the turn of the
fifteenth/sixteenth century, by Dunbar. Here, David Willcocks
with the Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra and the Royal
College of Music Chamber Choir give the work a flamboyant
performance, full of joy and panache, and suitably raucous.
One felt that it was possibly slightly rushed towards the ending,
but the swift pace is not otherwise to its detriment, but rather
lends a further sense of high-spirits.
Run Softly is a cantata setting of Spenser’s poem of 1596,
Prothalamion, written in honour of double marriage of
the Earl of Worcester’s two daughters, who sailed up the Thames
to Temple to be married at the home of the Earl of Essex. It
is an engaging, serene and radiantly beautiful piece, excellently
played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Stephen Roberts
is good as the solo baritone, with his powerful voice and splendid
follows - a cycle of Herrick poems about rural life, that are
here sung very gently and tenderly by an aptly mellifluous Royal
College of Music Chamber Choir.
Dyson’s father was
a blacksmith, and this setting of an anonymous fourteenth century
mediaeval Middle English text, updated by Dyson and his wife,
was dedicated to his father. Blacksmiths is a dramatic
work, here given an enthusiastic performance that brings out
the verve and energy of the work, yet it dies away to a gentle
ending, when the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir sing
tenderly, accompanied by translucent strings from the RPO. Beautiful.
The disc concludes
with To Music – another Herrick setting. This is a lovely
ending to a thoroughly enjoyable disc, with some excellent part-singing
from the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir.
of works that should be heard more frequently.