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5.0 out of 5 stars British Orchestral Works by lesser known composers, 12 May 2014
This review is from: British Composers Premiere Collections Vol.3 (Audio CD)
This is the 3rd volume in Cameo Classics series of orchestral works by little known British composers and feature premiere recordings.

Joseph Holbrooke (1878-1958) wrote his 4 movement ballet suite 'Pantomime' for string orchestra at the turn of the 20th century and first conducted it in November 1909 at His Majesty's Theatre, London. The music describes the love story of Pierrot and Pierrette in a moonlit garden. The movements are entitled 'Arlequin', 'Columbine', 'Pantalon' and 'Clown'. This miniature suite is a fine example of Holbrooke's orchestral style and is beautifully played by the Malta PO, who feature in all three works on this CD.

The second work is a tone poem by Scottish composer, Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie (1847-1935) entitled 'La Belle Dame sans Merci', commissioned by the Philharmonic Society for their 1883 season and based upon a similarly titled poem by Keats. Mackenzie studied in Germany and at the Royal Academy in London. He was a fine violinist from a young age taking after his father and grandfather. He was also a popular conductor. He became one of the leading British composers of the Victorian era, mainly known for his oratorio, 'The Rose of Sharon'. Knighted in 1895, he wrote many successful choral works and set poems by many Scottish poets. His orchestral works are both imaginative, evocative and descriptive in their structure and are fine examples of his use of orchestration to depict his chosen subjects. This tone poem, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci', lasting just under 19 minutes is a very fine work indeed and gave me much pleasure as I listened to it repeatedly.

The final work on this CD is by Sir Arthur Somervell (1863-1937), who was born in Windermere and studied with both Hubert Parry and Charles Villiers Stanford. He is best known for five song cycles, but also wrote many sacred works and orchestral music in the German Romantic style. He also had an excellent reputation as a musical educator, particularly for his schools music. His only symphony, subtitled 'Thalassa' (Greek goddess of the sea) is a 4 movement work, premiered by the LSO under Arthur Nikisch in February 1913. It is very much in the Brahmsian style, and has a quote '...immortal sea...' above its first movement. The second movement, entiltled 'Elegy' is a tribute to Captain Scott's Antarctic Expedition of 1912, and features a beautiful melody on the cor anglais. The third movement is inscribed with a line from a poem by Keats, 'Magic casements looking on the foam of faery lands' evoked by phrases in the woordwinds and plucked strings. The finale quotes James Harris' poem, 'The Daemon Lover', which provides a glorious and exuberant end to this fine, but little known symphony.

All 3 works on this CD are sympathetically played by the Malta PO under their conductor Michael Laus. Thoroughly recommended.
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Location: Hampshire, UK

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