Goossens has received very little attention as a composer since the advent
of the CD. This CD and others in the series is available only as an import
from Australia. You can order it direct from ABC using your credit card either
over the internet or by fax. ABC are currently looking at their distribution
arrangements in the UK.
The Symphony No 2 was written in Maine, Seattle, New York and Cincinnati.
Here it gets its first commercial recording albeit from a concert performance
(not that that factor dilutes the obvious technical and artistic strengths
of this muscial event - quite the opposite in fact - a real sense of occasion
is conveyed) complete with applause. The audience is otherwise unobtrusive.
The artists project Goossens' own brand of brooding and astringent lyricism
with great power. The work does however need repeated hearings. The language
is slightly more oblique than the franker heroics of Symphony No 1 (1940)
from which it is separated by only five years. The darkness of the piece
reflects the war years as the composer seems to admit in his programme note.
Occasionally Nielsen, Bax and even Rawsthorne are suggested but these are
passing impressions. Sample the start of the symphony: a sinuous bassoon
theme climbing out of subterranean depths. Aspiring, straining, Scriabinesque
trumpet calls are a feature of the second movement at 6.40. The folk song
The Turtle Dove casts its spell over the slow movement. This symphony
was first performed by the BBCSO/composer (People's Palace, London, 2.11.1946).
The more Goossens you listen to the more is his voice revealed as distinctive
and strongly atmospheric. There are many beautiful moments here.
The Concertino for strings is propulsive, lively and buoyant. It began
life in 1928 for string octet. You may well have heard it broadcast on the
BBC some years ago. The Fantasy (1924) is, by turns, Russian-exotic,
folksy and Grainger-like. It is the "through a glass darkly" folk-song element
which, for me, marks out Goossens' music. There is something in the
Fantasy of Frank Bridge of There is a Willow.
An excellent Goossens introduction. A pity that the CD is not available more
easily outside Australia.
Will ABC now oblige with the two Phantasy Concertos, piano (1944, suggested
by an Edgar Allan Poe tale) and violin (1948), perhaps coupled with the
Lyric Poem for violin and orchestra (1919), Three Pictures
for flute, strings and percussion (1935)?
This disc is most warmly recommended. If you enjoy, Bax, Szymanowski, Scriabin,
Schmitt and the French voluptuaries this disc is for you. Glorious!
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