GEORGE DYSON (1883-1964)
In Honour of the City
Sweet Thames Run Softly
A Spring Garland
David Nettle and Richard Markham
Osian Ellis (harp)
Stephen Roberts (bar)
RCM Chamber Choir
RPO/Sir David Willcocks
rec 1985-87, London
SOMM Celeste series
At one time Unicorn was the home of Dyson's music long before Chandos became
the composer's supreme advocate. Somm have revived those early LPs and grateful
we are to have the reminder.
In Honour of the City is celebratory like Finzi's St Cecilia. It
is heavier of tread than the Walton setting but, balancing that, there
is a trumpeting touch of Delian ecstasy in the singing. At 3.58 green marine
depths are evoked, perhaps reflecting London, the great port. The works ends
with a stuttering blaze of trumpets.
Dyson, the public orator, now takes garden-leave giving way to a more yielding
poet's inspiration in Sweet Thames Runs Softly. A simple Delian flux
is present reflecting the spirit of Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music.
The harp is revealingly recorded with Dyson's richly undulant melody
and muscular luxury in evidence as in the more placid pages of RVW's Dona
Nobis Pacem. The singing of the words 'Sweet Thames run softly'
repeatedly sung by the baritone at 17.40 is music you can warm your hands
A Spring Garland: After the rich Dundee we return to the crystal streams
in which four-square settings charm the birds from the trees. Osian Ellis
is quite at ease here.
The Blacksmiths is music rumpled by taciturn grumbling, corrugated
hammering and recoil and the flying of smithereens. The Bartokian clinker
and clangour relents to allow in an extraordinary central European peace.
This is a most arresting piece showing Dyson as a true original.
The Bluebird-like To Music is not complex. It is reliant on the quality
of melody as in A Spring Garland but here garnished with the variety
of mixed voices.
Roll on the next disc to be issued. Can we hope for the Cello and Orchestra
triptych (intriguingly recorded in cello and piano version by Continuum and
one movement of which was included in the Julian Lloyd Webber English collection
on Philips)? The more ambitious hopes lie in the direction of Nebuchadnezzar
and St Paul's Journey to Melita. However, above all, and of comparable
stature with Goossens' Apocalypse, Foulds' World Requiem and
Bantock's Omar, is Dyson's Quo Vadis. We need a recording
A very good disc to place with your Chandos Dyson collection.