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Themes and Variations [CD]

BBC Symphony Orchestra Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 11.22 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: None
  • Audio CD (28 Jan 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: NMC Recordings
  • ASIN: B00005A7LD
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,646 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Variations on an Elizabethan Theme: Imogen Holst 1:420.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Var'ns on an Elizabethan Theme: Arthur Oldham 1:080.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Var'ns on an Elizabethan Theme: Michael Tippett 4:250.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Var'ns on an Elizabethan Theme: Lennox Berkeley 1:270.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Var'ns on an Elizabethan Theme: Benjamin Britten 1:500.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Var'ns on an Elizabethan Theme: Humphrey Searle 2:360.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Var'ns on an Elizabethan Theme: William Walton 3:250.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Severn Bridge Variations: Malcolm Arnold 1:390.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Severn Bridge Variations: Alun Hoddinott 2:320.69  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Severn Bridge Variations: Nicholas Maw 2:570.69  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Severn Bridge Variations: Daniel Jones 1:560.69  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Severn Bridge Variations: Grace Williams 4:350.69  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Severn Bridge Variations: Michael Tippett 5:220.69  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Variations on Sumer is Icumen In: Oliver Knussen 1:390.69  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Sumer is Icumen In: Robert Saxton 1:200.69  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Sumer is Icumen In: Robin Holloway 4:090.69  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Sumer is Icumen In: Judith Weir 2:140.69  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Sumer is Icumen In: Alexander Goehr 6:140.69  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Sumer is Icumen In: Colin Matthews 1:380.69  Buy MP3 
Listen20. Sumer is Icumen In: David Bedford 2:470.69  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

Themes & Variations: three sets of variations by a range of British composers from William Walton to Alexander Goehr:

Variations on an Elizabethan Theme, composed for the 1953 Aldeburgh Festival, is a set of seven variations on the 16th-century Sellenger’s Round, scored for string orchestra. Its plaintive melody – arranged by Imogen Holst, friend and supporter of the Festival's founder Benjamin Britten – is followed by variations by Arthur Oldham (a student of Britten’s) and Humphrey Searle (among whose compositions are scores for the 1963 horror film The Haunting and episodes of Dr Who), as well as Benjamin Britten himself, Lennox Berkeley and Michael Tippett. A scintillating finale is provided by William Walton.

The 1966 Variations on a Welsh Hymn Tune (the featured tune being Brant) were commissioned to celebrate the building of the Severn Bridge, and bring together three Welsh and three English composers: Malcolm Arnold’s contrapuntal opening is followed by variations from Grace Williams, Daniel Jones, Alun Hoddinott and Nicholas Maw. Michael Tippett’s powerful and complex contribution, never before recorded, brings the work to an impressive close.

The disc is completed by the 1987 Aldeburgh Festival Variations – a tribute to the earlier Aldeburgh set – on the popular medieval round, Sumer is icumen in. Oliver Knussen's opening, a glittering introduction and bucolic setting of the theme, is followed by variations from a succession of acclaimed composers – from Robin Holloway’s melancholy pastoral setting, and Judith Weir’s dancing, Scottish-tinged contribution, to the explosive dissonance of Robert Saxton’s variation, the uncharacteristically Elgarian nostalgia of Alexander Goehr's writing, and Colin Matthews’s clamorous moto perpetuo. David Bedford’s celebratory finale, with its tribute to Benjamin Britten, brings the work, and this disc, to a fitting close.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
This CD (released in 2001) is from 'NMC Recordings', a label which is dedicated to championing British classical music, especially by living composers, and now has an extensive (and important) back catalogue.
The idea behind this CD is a simple one - bring together three different sets of variations, composed in different decades and featuring a good cross section of British composers of the 20th century - but it is executed beautifully, both in the superb performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Jac van Steen) and the great presentation (excellently packaged, including a booklet with thorough and informative notes by Bayan Northcott).
The first set of variations - 'Variations on an Elizabethan Theme' ('Sellenger's Round' by William Byrd') - were composed in 1953, to celebrate the Coronation of Elizabeth II, and are for string orchestra. Seven composers were involved and, unsurprisingly, the most striking pieces (at least to my ears) were written by probably the three best known: Michael Tippett, Benjamin Britten, and William Walton.
The second set of variations - 'Severn Bridge Variations - was commissioned by the BBC, in 1966, to mark the opening of the Severn suspension bridge which links England with Wales. The variation itself is on a Welsh hymn tune called 'Braint'. Six composers wrote pieces for this set, with Michael Tippett again producing something outstanding. (Tippett is the only composer to be represented twice on this CD).
The last seven variations - 'Variations on 'Sumer Is Icumen In'' - were composed in 1987 to mark the 40th anniversary of Suffolk's world famous Aldeburgh Music Festival. The tune, that the variations are based on, is a medieval melody which Benjamin Britten himself quoted in his 'Spring Symphony' (1949).
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