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British Composers Premiere Collections Vol.3

6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Paolino Tono (cor anglais), Michael Laus (conductor)
  • Orchestra: Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Arthur Somervell
  • Composer: Josef Holbrooke, Alexander Mackenzie
  • Audio CD (15 April 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cameo Classics
  • ASIN: B00JEFJ1C0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,521 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Josef Holbrooke: Pantomime Suite Op.16 - Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
2. Alexander Mackenzie: La Belle Dame sans Merci - Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
3. Arthur Somervell: Symphony in D minor Thalassa - Malta Philharmonic Orchestra

Product Description

This charming little suite for strings, dating from the early 1900s is the forerunner of the Ballet Suite Pierrot, Op.36b. The original Pantomime Suite is content simply to be judged as a piece of light music divorced from the stage, portraying four stock characters out of the Italian Commedia dell Arte. It was performed in Bournemouth in March 1908, conducted by the composer, and won for him the Charles Lucas Medal. La Belle Dame sans Merci, was commissioned by the Philharmonic Society for their 1883 season. The inspiration for this tone poem is wholly literary Keats ballad poem of the same name. Mackenzie's Ballad was well-received at its first performance and subsequent critics have drawn attention to its qualities. It is a distinguished contribution to symphonic programme music, and deserves to be heard more often. Thalassa is Somervell's only symphony. It received its first performance in February 1913, by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by none other than Arthur Nikisch. The symphony is in the tradition of the Brahms symphonies, with two large-scale outer movements flanking an extended slow movement, which may be regarded as the emotional fulcrum of the whole work, and a short, scherzo-like third movement.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles Voogd on 1 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
I’m always triggered if there’s new music available and this release is just that. It presents compositions from first class British composers who unfortunately felt somewhat into oblivion. Connoisseurs will know some music of Alexander MacKenzie because its available through the Hyperion label – a disc of good orchestral works – and the symphonic poem on this disc is new to the catalogue. Arthur Somervell – expertly serviced by Hyperion too with his violin concerto en some piano and orchestra works – is on display with his Mendelssohnian/lightly Brahmsian symphony and the fluid and industrious Josef Holbrooke presents his very charming Pantomime suite, which is what I’d call light music. This music needs some forceful, vigorous, daring and committed playing otherwise it will fall flat. Committed the Maltese players and their conductor are but there’re many flaws in the orchestral playing. Sometimes an out of tune note, a uneven entry, somewhat not daring enough, somewhat too polite, somewhat shy. This music needs more attack and some aggressiveness because it’s polite in it’s own right. It’s very British I’d say: like a little child that’s going to fill in a drawing with colors that does it just between the lines and never goes beyond them. So the interpreters must wake up the music and that’s not what’s happening in this release. A pity, although I like the disc. Slightly reverberant acoustic which doesn’t suit the symphony very well. It drowns the instruments somewhat in tuttis. It’s asked too much too let an orchestra of the first caliber perform this music but it would do a great job for it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wantage on 8 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
The three works recorded here are all world premiere rocordings and as such are most welcome.
The CD starts with Josef Holbrooke's Pantomime Suite, which is as mentioned in other reviews quite light. I would have preferred this piece to appear last on the disc.
MacKenzie's "La Belle Dame sans Merci" is very attractive.
The major piece on this release is Somervell's Symphony in D minor "Thalassa". It is very Brahmsian in nature. The movements have a maritime theme. The second movement, marked Elegy makes refernce to Scott's death near the South Pole a few months earlier and has a lovely cor anglais solo.
I would agree the acoustic is slightly reverberant. The orchestral playing is not flawless but perfectly listenable, but the Somervell suffers the most, which is a shame as it is a most attractive piece..
The booklet is good, but slightly confused me as it goes through the pieces in a different order to how they are actually recorded. The track listing is correct though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Delius on 10 Jun. 2014
Format: Audio CD
The current Cameo series of forgotten music by British Composers marches on apace with music by Somervell, McKenzie and Holbrooke.

The first listed of this trio is probably best known, if known much at all, for his songs, especially his 1898 cycle “Maud” (recorded by Hyperion). I certainly didn’t associate him with orchestral music, although I do recall a broadcast of the “Normandy” variations for piano and orchestra on the BBC (last year?). So the symphony was a surprise...but what a pleasant one!

Dedicated to the Greek goddess of the sea, there are maritime themes and allusions throughout, the work containing a particularly fine slow movement, an elegy to Scott of the Antarctic. Whilst the sleeve-note refers to a “dirge” I wouldn’t want potential buyers to think the music unremittingly depressing.... in fact I found the nobility to be very uplifting, and it kept reminding me of Elgar – interesting since his 2nd Symphony was composed from 1909 to 1911, whilst the Somervell slow movement was written during August 1912.

Holbrooke’s memory, although somewhat dimmed, was kept alive for many by his son Gwydion Brooke. Brooke was an outstanding bassoonist with the RPO during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Hired by Beecham he became one of the so-called “Royal Family” alongside Jack Brymer, Terence MacDonagh and Gerald Jackson. Until the early part of this century, (he died in 2005), he did his best through radio, writings and personal appearances to keep alive the memory of his father’s music.

In truth I have found on occasion Holbrooke to be rather meandering....... for example his tone poem “The Birds of Rhiannon” (recorded by Handley on Lyrita), or his Arthurian influenced "Cauldron of Annwn" trilogy – at least the few extracts I’ve heard of it.
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