Magazine article Gramophone

'British Tone Poems, Vol 1'

Magazine article Gramophone

'British Tone Poems, Vol 1'

Article excerpt

'British Tone Poems, Vol 1'

Alwyn Blackdown Austin Spring Bantock The Witch of Atlas HB Gardiner A Berkshire Idyll Gurney A Gloucestershire Rhapsody Vaughan Williams The Solent BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Rumon Gamba Chandos (F) CHAN10939 (77' * DDD)

All but one of the six items on this latest serving of homegrown fare from Rumon Gamba and the BBC NOW for Chandos have already appeared on disc, the exception being Henry Balfour Gardiner's A Berkshire Idyll (1913). Skilfully scored for small orchestra, this is a wistfully fragrant nature poem by no means devoid of a spicy harmony or two (for example, the strings' sighing phrase at 1 '49"). Gardiner was a lifelong friend of the baritone and self-taught composer Frederic Austin, whose symphonic rhapsody Spring (completed in 1907 and extensively overhauled three decades later) makes a buoyant curtain-raiser. Gamba's reading has a touch more polish than Douglas Bostock's commendable pioneering account with the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra (Classico, 10/02, since reissued on Dutton Epoch).

Other treats to savour include Bantock's opulent 1902 tone poem after Shelley, The Witch of Atlas (in which these artists manage to hold their own alongside Vernon Handley and the RPO--Hyperion, 5/91), William Alwyn's youthful Blackdown (a luminously pretty evocation from 1926 of the North Downs near Haslemere in Surrey) and Ivor Gurney's rousing tribute to his home county, A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1919-21), idiomatically pieced together from the troubled composer's sketches by Philip Lancaster and Ian Venables. …

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