> Rutland Boughton [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Rutland BOUGHTON (1878-1960)
Flute Concerto in D major (1937)
Concerto for String Orchestra (1937)
Three Folk Dances (1911)
Aylesbury Games (1952)
Emily Beynon (flute)
New London Orchestra/Ronald Corp
rec 22-23 March 2000 DDD
recorded in association with The Rutland Boughton Music Trust
HYPERION CDA67185 [73.03]


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This Boughton collection has been out for a couple of years now. I have been remiss in not covering it before now. Its delights are generally to be found in grace rather than melodrama. The Folk Dances are innocuous diversions; a touch bland comparable with Holst's Marching Tune. The Flute Concerto dates from the same year as the Third Symphony and the Oboe Concerto. It is a companion to the oboe work. The Flute Concerto is predominantly gentle with a sweetly shaped and far from bland central Adagio. The Concerto for Strings was written for the Boyd Neel Orchestra who, in the same year (1937), premiered Britten's Bridge Variations in the same concert (27 August 1937) as a performance of Boughton's Oboe Concerto. Neel did not run with the work probably because of its great technical difficulty. It had to wait sixty years for its premiere: 11 September 1997, Alexander Polianichko conducting the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. Much of the work belies its cosy original title (Four English Pieces: English Overture, Scherzo at Dawn, Love Scene, Hornpipe) - far too redolent of Parry. In fact the work bristles with activity and capricious variety. If it misses, by a hair, the uproarious sweep of Bliss's Music for Strings and Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra it is a work that belongs in their contemporaneous company. The interesting Aylesbury Games variations is a much later piece with folksy character but lacking a memorable profile.

Ted Perry's Hyperion has won the right to be called the home of Boughton's music. No company has recorded as much Boughton. The only other Boughton CD worth tracking down is the BBC IMP recordings of symphonies 2 Deirdre and 3 with the BBC Phil conducted by Edward Downes - digital BBC studio recordings from the 1980s.

In the best of all possible worlds there would be premiere recordings of the whole of Boughton's Arthurian cycle of operas but marginally more realistic would be recordings of his operas Alkestis and The Queen of Cornwall. The latter is based on a Thomas Hardy drama founded on the Tristan legend and the story of the two Isoldes. The sea, the cliffs and the scenery are assigned choral voices counterpointing the solo voices. It is an extremely convincing and emotionally powerful opera where the plotline is punctuated by six Hardy poems which carry the plot forward. The work has an urgent momentum and is quite different from the fey mistiness of The Immortal Hour - more Puccini and Sibelius than Fiona Macleod and tepid Delius. The Stanford Robinson-directed BBC broadcast survives in private collections and should be picked up by a company such as Symposium or Dutton.

Rob Barnett


Symphony No. 3, Oboe Concerto No. 1 HELIOS CDH5509 mid-price
String Quartets, Oboe Quartet, Songs Without Words CDA66936
Bethlehem - choral drama CDA66690
The Immortal Hour - opera. DYAD CDD22019 (2CDs) - bargain price

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