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Edgar BAINTON (1880-1956)
Epithalamion: Rhapsody for Full Orchestra (1929) Performing edition by Rodney Newton [13:12]
An English Idyll for baritone and orchestra (1946): Pastoral. Andante, molto tranquillo; London. Andante grazioso con moto; The Cathedral. Andante, un poco mosso [18:15] *
Hubert CLIFFORD (1904-1959)
A Kentish Suite (1935): Dover. Introduction - Alla hornpipe; A Choral Prelude on 'Canterbury'. With dignity; Pastoral and Folk Song. Lento pastorale; Swift Nicks of Gad's Hill: A Scherzo. Allegro con brio; Greenwich: A Pageant of the River. Maestoso [19:48]
The Casanova Melody from Carol Reed's production of The Third Man Written under the name of Michael Sarsfield (1949) Orchestral realisation by Rodney Newton (2000) [3:40]
Five English Nursery Tunes: A Suite for Orchestra (1941): The Frog and the Mouse. Allegro capriccioso - Presto; The Evening Prayer. Lento; Lavender's Blue. Allegretto scherzando; Curly Locks. Andantino; London Bridge. Allegro molto [16.20]
Shanagolden: An Irish Pastoral Sketch (1953) [4:08]
Paul Whelan (baritone) *
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
Rec. 30-31 October 2001, Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester
premiere recordings

CHANDOS CHAN 10019 [76:02]


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Is it premature to remark on a pattern emerging in the more esoteric reaches of the Chandos catalogue? Perhaps the two instances are isolated. Anyway the pairing of Patrick Hadley and Philip Sainton on two orchestral Chandos CDs can be compared with a brace of Edgar Bainton and Hubert Clifford. Hadleyís vibrant pastoral choral/orchestral glories contrast with Saintonís scorching Baxian tragedies (e.g. the tone poem The Island). As for Bainton and Clifford, the former was a Brit who emigrated to Australia while the latter was an Australian who came to live in England. While Bainton wrote shoals of works before he departed England and had his meed of performances in London and at the festivals, Clifford had little produced in Australia and such reputation as he secured was based on his concert and film music from the 1940s and 1950s. Clifford wrote one thumpingly heroic symphony with wartime and filmic resonances. Bainton wrote three with two coming from his Australian years. Cliffordís symphony and Baintonís Second are paired on another Chandos CD (CHAN 9757 also reviewed here a couple of years back). The Third Symphony - a work of visionary epic strength awaits its first digital recording. It will be a revelation to most people: tonal, aspiring, romantic-impressionistic. It was recorded on the Australian BROLGA label circa 1956 by the Sydney SO conducted by Sir Bernard Heinze (BZM12). People should not rest until it and the Baintonís Concerto-Fantasia (piano and orchestra) of 1929 have been recorded and issued.
The present disc is pleasing rather than outright compelling. The contrast between then two composers is simplistically: Cliffordís splendid light music and Baintonís Anglo-Impressionism. Bainton is thankfully represented by two substantial works one of which is a superbly evocative essay in sound and pastoral splendour. Thank heavens the Chandos repertoire team avoided pairing Baintonís light music with Clifford lighter fare. They could so easily have given us the Baintonís two rather inconsequential orchestral suites written from pieces dating from Baintonís years at the Rühleben internment camp circa 1916-18.
Baintonís Epithalamion (a song or poem in celebration of a marriage) is a riotous fantasy in which the festivities and joys mix Bacchus and Swinburne although in fact the inspiration comes from Spenserís Elizabethan poem of the same name. Stylistically we are in the same broad plain occupied by Ravelís Daphnis, Baxís Spring Fire. It is a powerful work with an exultant long-limbed pastoral melody at 6.10 brought to climactic culmination at 11.30 emblematic of the pastoral school in full vibrancy and superbly communicated by Yuri Torchinskyís solo violin at 11.35. Other parallels include Vaughan Williamsí Norfolk Rhapsodies and Frank Bridgeís The Story of My Heart, the scherzando second poem of the Two Jefferies Poems. As a form the work seems to look towards late nineteenth century precedents such as Rimskyís Sadko and Glazunovís The Sea and The Forest. By comparison English Idyll is across its three Cardus poems too mournfully musing in tone for much of the time. I am not sure that Paul Whelan is not in some part accountable for this. He has one of those grave sepia-toned voices - richer colouration might well have helped. Naturally the piece has its strengths such as the rocking introduction to the first movement part - idyllic in the manner of Vaughan Williamsí music for the opera Sir John in Love and in the final song there is a memorably sturdy and determined tread as in the Sea Symphony.
Then come the Clifford pieces. Clifford won the Cobbett prize for his Kentish Suite. This was the prize for a suite suitable for school orchestras. The Dover movement is baroque Sheban entry made-over, Canterbury is familiar and fugal. The other movements include the gentlest pastoral touches (similar to RVWís Dives and Lazarus), a scherzo-tarantella in which Falstaffís dissolute band seem to burst out of the orchestral fabric and the shades of an Elgarian march in the shape of Greenwich Pageant. Casanova Melody written for the film of The Third Man (the one in which Anton Karasís cimbalom hauntingly created the Harry Lime theme) was written under a pseudonym. It is suitably hyper-romantic with music use made of harp and solo violin. Five English Nursery Tunes includes a zinging surreptitiously sinister tarantella, a reverential evening prayer for solo viola, a chuckling and dancing Lavender Blue, the downy-light Curly Locks and the effervescent London Bridge. Finally Shanagolden portrays the place in Eire where Cliffordís grandmother died in 1922. He had visited the place in 1953 so it was vivid in his memory when he wrote the piece. It is rather in the manner of other short sunlit pastoral idylls: C.W. Orrís Cotswold Hill-Tune or Max Saundersí Cotswold Pastoral. It is a yearning aureate piece.
We must implore Chandos to continue this series and next time include the Bainton Third Symphony and Concerto-Fantasia perhaps with some brief film music pieces by Clifford.
This disc is superbly documented (as you would expect with Lewis Foreman) with meticulous attention to detail and sensitively designed. Strongly recommended especially for Epithalamion and Shanagolden. Everything here is pleasing. Much of the Clifford music is undemanding lighter fare.

Rob Barnett

Strongly recommended especially for Epithalamion and Shanagolden. Ö see Full Review

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