I am not sure that
Tippett's Divertimento has
ever sounded as bright-eyed and eager.
This is the most vibrant-sounding clamorous
recording it has had. Norman Del Mar
was a magnificent conductor and a long-time
collaborator with Lyrita - note his
1965 recording of Bax 6 which was reissued
last month [review].
As for Tippett’s music it is here given
to uproar, resilience and poetry. You
might link the first and third movements
with the bustle of Moeran's Sinfonietta.
The fourth of the five movements has
some typically sprung Tippett cross-rhythms
as well as a certain weightiness. The
finale likewise demonstrates clamorous
After the gloriously
grating cross-cut of Tippett Rawsthorne's
slightly vinegary lyrical melancholy
makes for a distinctive style change.
There's no mistaking the Rawsthorne
voice. After a haunted little Lullaby
comes a flickering and bustling-busy
jig. The whole thing is over in the
span of a typical concert overture.
It was written for and dedicated to
Harry Blech who premiered it with his
London Mozart Players.
Then come three sinfoniettas.
The Britten is from 1932 and
is dedicated to his teacher, Frank Bridge.
It's a densely inventive piece which
bristles with imaginative strokes. I
particularly noted the chilliness as
well as the English pastoral edge of
the central Variations. The shiveringly
Sibelian Tarantella flies along
lickety-split with Del Mar driving his
orchestra in sprint mode. This is not
quite the mature Britten but it is fascinating.
is from 1950. It is in two movements
of which the first is typically springy,
lithe and boisterous rather like the
Serenade. Only in the combined
Lento allegro is the mood more
ambivalent and ultimately haunted before
a racy flightiness links the listener
back to Tippett. This brings the proceedings
to an end but not before a final gracious
The final work is the
Arnold First Sinfonietta -
there are three all conveniently recorded
on EMI. It is the most approachable
of the five works here although Nicholas
Braithwaite is by no means the most
beguiling advocate of this beguiling
music. While Arnold's singing soul is
there the results could be even more
lissom and even more fetching. The bracing
allegro con brio goes with a
The notes are by Michael
Kennedy and Robert Layton.
The English Chamber
Orchestra sounds more like a beefy grand
orchestra than a chamber ensemble in
this full-on recording.
There is a typically
English reticence about these divertimentos
and sinfoniettas - the only exception
being the unbuttoned Arnold. They are
fulsomely recorded and given virtuoso
Lennox Berkeley Serenade for Strings
Lennox Berkeley symphonies
Lennox Berkeley piano cocnertos
Alan Rawsthorne Symphonic Studies
Alan Rawsthorne Symphonies 1-3
Arnold Symphony No. 4