This is, simply, another wonderful installment in Hyperion's series of orchestral music by Granville Bantock with the RPO under Vernon Handley. And as with the other issues, the performances here are beyond reproach, fully realizing the luxurious textures and sweep of the music. Bantock was a superb orchestrator - so to fully appreciate his work one needs performances in this league - but he was also a master of form and technique and the cleverness (not in a negative sense), skill and level of invention when it comes to development of (memorable) themes in large-scale structures is truly admirable. This is music of intoxicating lushness and magic, and not for a minute does it fail to grab one's attention.
The Cyprian Goddess is perhaps the most obscure of his symphonies, and it might perhaps not reach the level of magic of the others; it is still a marvelous work, though, with a richness and opulence somewhat reminiscent of Richard Strauss moving toward a magnificently atmospheric, other-worldly conclusion. The Helena Variations might be lighter music; relaxed and sunnily atmospheric in the manner of French romantic composers such as Massenent. It is an enchanting work, although not a very profound one. Dante and Beatrice sounds, in a sense, like a companion piece to the perhaps more famous Fifine at the fair (featured on another disc in the series), but it is hardly inferior. This is a dramatic work, unsurprisingly, and more shadowy and menacing than Fifine, but one where one has to marvel at Bantock's inventiveness in winding his themes through twists and turns and back on themselves; highly ornamented music, then, and, as always, superbly scored. Overall then, this disc is as satisfying as the others in the series (even though it doesn't include any indisputable masterpiece such as the Hebridean or Celtic symphonies, or the orchestral song cycle Sappho), and is recommended with enthusiasm.