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

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Elgar: Violin Concerto & Introduction and Allegro

Elgar: Violin Concerto & Introduction and Allegro


Elgar:

Introduction & Allegro for strings, Op. 47

Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61

Nigel Kennedy (violin)


“This remains Nigel Kennedy’s finest achievement on record, arguably even finer than the long line of versions with star international soloists from either outside or within Britain. With Vernon Handley as guide it is a truly inspired and inspiring performance and the recording is outstandingly faithful and atmospheric.” Penguin Guide

“Listening to this recording again after a number of years, and following the reading with a score, makes one realise again just how much in this performance is exactly right...Kennedy’s first thoughts are admirably demonstrated in a recording and performance that belong in the collection of every Elgarian who loves this concerto.” MusicWeb International, 29th May 2013

“Kennedy's first recording of the Elgar Concerto is aflame with a young man's passionate inspiration, though never lacking subtler nuance, while Handley simply breathed Elgar like no-one else.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 *****

Presto Greatest Recordings

1980s

Warner Classics Masters - 4332872

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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York Bowen - Violin & Piano Concertos

York Bowen - Violin & Piano Concertos


Bowen:

Violin Concerto in E minor Op. 33 (1913)

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat Op. 11 (1903)


Michael Dussek (piano) & Lorraine McAslan (violin)

BBC Concert Orchestra, Vernon Handley CBE

Recorded at The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford, 5–6 December 2005

“…York Bowen… premiered his First Piano Concerto (1903) at the Proms while he was still a student at the Royal Academy of Music. It's an unashamedly virtuoso vehicle… Michael Dussek negotiates the note-splattered, Scharwenkian terrain with infectious bravado and sensitivity, and 'Tod' Handley directs with all his customary sympathy and understanding...[in] the gloriously impassioned E minor Violin Concerto (1913)... It's wonderful to hear Lorraine McAslan... playing with the kind of dashing swagger, vibrato intensity and quicksilver portamento that distinguished Heifetz's concerto recordings of the 1950s. It's a mesmerising performance, captured in opulent sound.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2006 *****

“York Bowen's Viola Concerto was quite a discovery last year so getting to know his Violin Concerto was an intriguing prospect. Finished in 1913 but not performed until 1920, it was briefly taken up by May Harrison but failed to establish itself.
This exemplary first commercial recording reveals another substantial, exquisitely scored and unjustly forgotten Bowen gem which lovers of the Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Delius concertos should waste no time in seeking out.
The slow movement proves especially fetching, evincing a most engaging poetry and warm-hearted lyricism, while the finale serves up many opportunities for virtuoso display and ends with the clinching return of the horns' rousing call to arms. Lorraine McAslan gives a technically brilliant, sweet-toned account. Vernon Handley, too, well and truly in his element, secures memorably responsive, glowingly affectionate playing from the BBC Concert Orchestra.
The First Piano Concerto was written a decade earlier and first performed by the 19-year-old composer at London's Queen's Hall in December 1903. If less distinctive than its bedfellow, it's a thoroughly attractive piece, whose cheeky central Scherzo (which nods towards Saint- Saëns) precedes an extended, at times unashamedly Tchaikovskian, finale (with an exceedingly catchy main theme). This performance is outstanding, with Michael Dussek admirably stylish and Handley offering the most malleable support.
The Watford Town Hall production marries amplitude and warmth to realistic balance.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“…York Bowen's… Violin Concerto… reveals another substantial, exquisitely scored and unjustly forgotten Bowen gem which lovers of the Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Delius concertos should waste no time in seeking out. The slow movement proves especially fetching, evincing a most engaging poetry and warm-hearted lyricism, while the finale serves up many opportunities for virtuoso display and ends with the clinching return of the horns' rousing call to arms. Lorraine McAslan gives a technically brilliant, sweet-toned account... Vernon Handley, too, well and truly in his element, secures memorably responsive glowingly affectionate playing from the BBC Concert Orchestra. The First Piano Concerto was written a decade earlier... it's a thoroughly attractive piece, whose cheeky central Scherzo... precedes an extended, at times unashamedly Tchaikovskian, finale... This performance is outstanding, with Michael Dussek admirably stylish and Handley offering the most malleable support.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2006

Up to 25% off Dutton Epoch

Dutton Epoch - CDLX7169

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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

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