Here we go: another
reviving mid-price reissue from Chandos.
This time we get a selection from their
Dyson catalogue. After all, without
their Dyson ‘chapters’ the gently-paced
revival of this composer’s music would
still be in first gear.
From their recording
of the complete The Canterbury Pilgrims
(CHAN 9531-2) we get Hickox's bibulous,
vitality-soaked At the Tabard Inn.
This is a rambunctious and touching
piece acting as a large-scale introduction
to and epitome of the musical material
for the whole choral work. It is momentous
and is given a superbly spirited ‘kick’
by Hickox. There is no trace of time-serving
or routine. No wonder Stokowski described
the piece as a masterpiece of characterisation
after he had conducted a performance
in 1949. There is a Vaughan Williamsy
flavour here (the Tudor Portraits -
- particularly The Tunning of Elinor
Rumming) but it is far from the
whole story. It can be delightfully
Delian, perhaps closest in manner to
the North Country Sketches. Waltonian-Elgarian
and haughty, it is filmic and thunderously
and orgiastically horn-lofted at the
Dyson wrote only one
symphony. Make no mistake this a lanky
big-boned piece lasting almost 45 minutes
and written in 1937 when symphonies
were flying from the pens of British
composers. It rather lost its place
in the melee and this recording has
given it another chance and will continue
to do so. The movements are: in turn,
I a Straussian energico with
some of the fantastic spindrift of an
Elgar scherzo; II andante - subdued
and the mood is not fully resolved;
there is a slowly louring Beethovenian
Eroica funeral march going on
here as well as touch of serenade; III
a burly Vaughan Williamsy concert
grosso, heavy-footed dance music
mixed with spindrift Elgarian ‘by the
river’ stuff; III an allegro risoluto
and IV a desperately serious poco adagio.
This is searing and I thought touching
on the Tchaikovsky Pathetique
finale. The orchestra heaves up from
time to time like an unquiet landscape
rent by subterranean forces. Recollections
of the Straussian first movement boil
up in the final pages which here carry
the accents of Elgar 2.
In Honour of the
City gives us the choral Dyson in
a quarter-hour celebratory piece using
the same poem, William Dunbar's, as
was later set by William Walton. It
is a strong and stable vessel for the
muscular surge of massed English choirs.
The spirit mixes that of various joyous
pieces: from Finzi's St Cecilia to
Elgar's Cockaigne. There are
the echoes of the Westminster chimes
at 3.34; not for the last time either.
Two years later the rum-ti-tum figuration
at 10:48 was to find its way into the
good-hearted optimism of the pilgrim's
cavalcade in The Canterbury Pilgrims.
Horns upward and bells fanfare out this
joyous performance. The words are printed
in full in the booklet.
This disc arrived days
Dyson newcomer. The Chandos is at
midprice. The Naxos lacks the choral
piece; instead offering the characterful
Concerto da Chiesa for strings.
Hickox’s LSO has a better upholstered
recording and the LSO strings are not
as lean as those of the Bournemouth
Symphony Orchestra. With the choral
item the Chandos presents a more representative
cross-section. David Lloyd-Jones brings
out more of the intermittently Rimskian
and Sibelian flavour of the symphony.
I think you will be very happy with
the Naxos but the Chandos has the air
and tone of a luxury item.