The present disc is part of a series that currently numbers four. The first
to be issued was the second symphony which is also to be reviewed on this
Divertimento's Dance Prelude (first of three movements)
initially light-handed becomes quite serious and emphatic. Towards the end
we have a major romantic climax. The Scherzo and Folk tune central
movement betrays the influence of Arthur Bliss and drifts into Szymanowski
territory at moments. The following Folk Tune is one of Goossens most
uncomplicated pastoral sketches. The Folk Tune is a gem of a piece and is
eloquently treated here. The final Ballet Flamenco has some hard-faced
castanets, woodblocks and side drum. The piece was inspired by the dancing
of flamenco dancer, Carmen Amaya. Goossens conducted the orchestra when she
danced de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance in Cincinnati in 1944. This can
be added to the pictorial literature of Hispanic evocations which stretch
from El Salon Mexico to Rhapsodie Espagnole. Vernon Handley's
performance and the wonderful recording accorded by ABC's engineers completely
outpace the Gaspare Chiarelli-conducted registration once available on a
Unicorn LP (RHS348).
The Variations on a Chinese Theme wind us back nearly fifty years.
An innocent little theme of Chinese dip and lilt is put through its paces.
The fifth, seventh eighth hark back to Brahmsian language while the sixth
is much more modern in approach. The ninth is Dvorakian. The tenth like
Tchaikovsky. The eleventh could easily have been a Vaughan Williams frolic
out of The Wasps. The 12th is an uncomplicated serenade.
The next variation is closer to the uncertainty world which Goossens later
captured before drifting into an impressionistic grand valse. The last variation
begins in the mildly scary world of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker but soon
resolves into a proto-Arnoldian English Dance.
The Eternal Rhythm is from a year later but already Goossens is showing
more individuality and there are far more hallmarks of his developed style.
Goossens conducted the premiere at the Queen's Hall on 19 October 1920. Sinuous
clarinet melodies wind in and out through an orchestral mist worthy of the
opening of Citizen Kane. At 5.30 the Scriabinesque trumpet cries out to the
heavens as, in 1939, he was to do with the whole of the expanded trumpet
choir in the finale of his First Symphony. At 10.04 the twist in the notes
is remarkable and intriguingly unsettling. French impressionism meets Russian
mysticism. Janacek meets Debussy. Bax must have learnt from this voluptuous
music as well. His symphonies bear its imaginative marks. Surely he heard
the piece or knew the score. It is all well handled here although I thought
I noticed the awed trumpets faltering once or twice. At 17.50 there is a
further misty passage which seems to predict the darker moments in Bax's
Second Symphony, a work that Goossens was to premiere in London during the
The final ten minute Kaleidoscope is an orchestral jeu d'esprit which
may well be known to many in its solo piano version. It is a quite varied
collection out of a child's colouring book and music box; akin to Ma Mere
L'Oie but with Stravinskian interpolations. Appropriately it opens with Good
Morning and closes with
Goodnight. The moon
floats high in a Disneyesque night sky.
Design values are excellent. Utterly superb photos adorn the whole of the
series. The biographical introduction is the same across each of the series.
The notes by Meurig Bowen cover each of the works in some detail. We must
hope for more from this source. There is an existing analogue ABC tape of
the opera Judith. ABC also has the Myer Fredman conducted tape of Apocalypse
which should go onto a single crammed CD.
Most strongly recommended.
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