Vernon Handley

Conductor

Vernon Handley

Throughout his life Vernon Handley was unique amongst front rank conductors in that he unashamedly championed British repertoire before that of all other countries. Recognised as Sir Adrian Boult’s protégé he held steadfastly to two principles, which might have proved detrimental to a successful career: the undemonstrative technique and the unfashionable repertoire.

Vernon Handley probably recorded, performed and broadcast more British music than any other conductor living or dead. In some 160 discs, over 90 were British, including 87 works which had not been recorded before. He gave over 100 premieres. In his recorded output are all the symphonies of Vaughan Williams, Bax, Stanford, Arnold and Robert Simpson, all the major works of Elgar and the whole of Moeran’s orchestral music.

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British Cello Concertos

British Cello Concertos


Bax:

Cello Concerto

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bryden Thomson

Bliss:

Cello Concerto

Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley

Finzi:

Cello Concerto, Op. 40

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley

Moeran:

Cello Concerto

Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Norman Del Mar

Stanford:

Irish Rhapsody No. 3 for Cello and Orchestra Op. 13

Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley


This two-album set features British cello concertos from Raphael Wallfisch’s best late-1980s recordings. He has always worked closely with leading British composers of our time and is now regarded as the finest performer of their works for cello. As International Record Review asserted, ‘no British cellist has done more to advocate British composers than Raphael Wallfisch... [His] playing evinces that attention to detail, tonal finesse and understated conviction which has long made him an exponent of new and unfamiliar music.’

Those works are probably among the finest of the twentieth-century British repertoire. The original recordings won enthusiastic reviews, helped by such champions of British composers as Vernon Handley, Norman Del Mar, and Bryden Thomson, here conducting top British orchestras such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and London Philharmonic.

Chandos 241 - CHAN241-56

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.00

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Cyril Rootham: Symphony No. 2 & Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity

Cyril Rootham: Symphony No. 2 & Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity


Rootham:

Symphony No. 2

BBC Broadcast 28 January 1984

Scottish Philharmonic Singers & BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity

BBC Broadcast 18 December 1975

Teresa Cahill (soprano), Philip Langridge (tenor) & Michael Rippon (bass-baritone)

Trinity Boys Choir, BBC Singers & BBC Concert Orchestra


‘Rootham has done much for other contemporary composers; unfortunately he has been deficient in peddling his own wares’. This verdict on Cyril Rootham may serve to explain the neglect his music suffered during his lifetime. However, the general indifference it has encountered subsequently is unfathomable. It is to be hoped that this Lyrita release, which echoes the enterprise of the same label’s pionee ring 1976 studio recording of the First Symphony will reawaken interest in a key figure in early twentieth century British music.

Composed between 1925 and 1928, Rootham’s setting of Milton’s Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, for soprano, tenor and baritone soloists, chorus, a semi-chorus of boys’ voices and orchestra, is the composer’s most ambitious and accomplished choral work. It won the 1928 Carnegie Competition and was premiered successfully on 13 June 1930 under the composer’s direction. A performance in Gloucester at the 1934 Three Choirs Festival brought further acclaim. The performance presented here is a 1975 recording of a BBC Radio 3 broadcast marking Rootham’s centenary. Vernon Handley’s assured handling of this large score is constantly impressive and he highlights its tiniest ge stures and flecks of colour as well as moulding convincingly its epic, sweeping paragraphs.

Rootham first conceived the idea of a symphonic work with choral finale in 1936 at a time when he beagn to suffer from progressive muscular atrophy. The Symphony No.2 was completed at a stage when Rootham was no longer able to write and could barely speak, ten days before he died in March 1938. The result can be regarded as a deeply personal statement or rather, given the circumstances of its creation, as a testament. The overall effect is all the more poignant because it shuns sentimentality and self-indulgence. It was premiered on 17 March 1939 at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. This performance under Vernon Handley was first broadcast on 28 November 1984. Handley’s grasp of this fragile, elusive symphonic piece is as impressive as his 1976 studio account of Rootham’s First Symphony (also available on Lyrita SRCD269) and constitutes arguably an even greater interpretive achievement.

Lyrita Itter Broadcast Collection - REAM2118

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.25

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Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams


Vaughan Williams:

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Sinfonia of London, Sir John Barbirolli

Fantasia on Greensleeves

Sinfonia of London, Sir John Barbirolli

The Wasps Overture

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley

The Lark Ascending

Sarah Chang (violin)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink

Flos Campi

Christopher Balmer

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, Vernon Handley

Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus'

Jacques Orchestra, Sir David Willcocks

Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1

New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

On Wenlock Edge

Ian Partridge

Music Group of London

Silent Noon

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, David Willison

Songs of Travel

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, David Willison

Serenade to Music

(original version with 16 soloists)

Norma Burrowes, Sheila Armstrong, Susan Longfield, Marie Hayward (soprano), Alfreda Hodgson, Gloria Jennings, Shirley Minty, Meriel Dickinson (contralto), Ian Partridge, Bernard Dickerson, Wynford Evans, Kenneth Bowen (tenor), Richard Angas, John Carol Case, John Noble & Christopher Keyte (bass)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult


Now rightfully acknowledged as a towering figure, Vaughan Williams was the first composer to write in the English language, using folksong in the Norfolk Rhapsody, a Tudor hymn in the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and absorbing and transforming his influences in the stunningly beautiful Serenade to Music.

During the 16th and 17th centuries England had been a leading participant in the delevopment of European music, but after the early death of Purcell in 1695, music in England came to be dominated by musicians of foreign origin: notably Handel and Mendelssohn. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is the best-known of a new generation of composers that came after Elgar and made up what became known as the English Musical Renaissance. Along with Gustav Holst, Vaughan Williams travelled the country collecting and preserving English folksong traditions, and was largely responsible for the revival of interest in folksong. So strong was his interest in the subject that, like Holst, folksong was absorbed into his compositional style and was to influence his concert music, giving it a uniquely English quality. Starting with the evocative Thomas Tallis Fantasia, (RVW's look back at his great 16th-century predecessor) this set contains some of the composer's best-known and most-loved music, including the popular Fantasia on Greensleeves and the beautiful Lark Ascending.

Warner Classics 20th Century Classics - 6279102

(CD - 2 discs)

$9.25

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Holst: The Planets, St Paul's Suite & Brook Green Suite

Holst: The Planets, St Paul's Suite & Brook Green Suite


Holst:

The Planets, Op. 32

St Paul's Suite, Op. 29 No. 2

Brook Green Suite

Barry Wordsworth


Alto - ALC1013

(CD)

$6.00

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Finzi: Love's Labours Lost, suite for small orchestra, Op 28, etc.

Finzi:

Love's Labours Lost, suite for small orchestra, Op 28

for string orchestra

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Let Us Garlands Bring, Op. 18

John Carol Case (baritone)

Two Sonnets by John Milton for Tenor and small Orchestra

Farewell to Arms for Tenor and small Orchestra

Ian Partridge (tenor)

In terra pax, Op. 39


Lyrita - SRCD237

(CD)

$14.25

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Finzi: A Severn Rhapsody, Op. 3, etc.

Finzi:

A Severn Rhapsody, Op. 3

Nocturne (New Year Music)

Love's Labours Lost, Op 28: Three Soliloquies

Romance for string orchestra, Op. 11

Prelude for string orchestra, Op. 25

Fall of the Leaf

Introit for Solo Violin and Small Orchestra in F major, Op. 6

Rodney Friend (solo violin)

Eclogue, Op. 10

Peter Katin (piano)

New Philharmonia Orchestra, Vernon Handley

Grand Fantasia and Toccata, Op. 38

Peter Katin (piano)

New Philharmonia Orchestra, Vernon Handley


Lyrita - SRCD239

(CD)

$14.25

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Finzi: Violin & Cello Concertos

Finzi: Violin & Cello Concertos


Finzi:

Cello Concerto, Op. 40

Raphael Wallfisch (cello)

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley

Violin Concerto

Tasmin Little (violin)

Prelude for string orchestra, Op. 25

Romance for string orchestra, Op. 11


“Keenly felt, emotional reading…performance is passionate…” BBC Music Magazine

Chandos Classics - CHAN10425X

(CD)

$7.00

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An introduction to Ralph Vaughan Williams

An introduction to Ralph Vaughan Williams


Vaughan Williams:

The Lark Ascending

Michael Davis (violin)

The Wasps Overture

Fantasia on Greensleeves

Symphony No. 2 'A London Symphony'


"The performances are excellent." American Record Guide

Chandos Intro - CHAN2028

(CD)

$7.00

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Moeran: Rhapsodies Nos. 1 & 2, etc.

Moeran:

Rhapsodies Nos. 1 & 2

In The Mountain Country

Serenade in G

Nocturne for baritone, chorus & orchestra

Hugh Mackey (baritone)

The Renaissance Singers


Chandos Classics - CHAN10235X

(CD)

$7.00

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Moeran: Orchestral Works

Moeran: Orchestral Works


Moeran:

Violin Concerto

Lydia Mordkovitch (violin)

Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley

Lonely Waters

Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley

Whythorne's Shadow

Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley

Cello Concerto

Raphael Wallfisch (cello)

Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Norman Del Mar


Rec. Dorset 1986, Belfast 1990

Chandos Classics - CHAN10168X

(CD)

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