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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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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Vernon Handley conducts Ireland, Bridge & Walton

Vernon Handley conducts Ireland, Bridge & Walton


Bridge:

Phantasm

Ireland:

Piano Concerto in E flat major

Walton:

Sinfonia Concertante

Original version


“Stott savours the dreamy sonorities of Ireland's Concerto; she's also superb in Frank Bridge's darkly flickering Phantasm and Walton's heavy-handed early work. Powerful accompaniments, too.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2009 ****

“Stott, most sympathetically accompanied by Vernon Handley and the RPO, proves a persuasive, committed interpreter” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

Building a Library

First Choice - November 2009

Dutton Epoch - CDLX7223

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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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Arnold: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 5

Arnold: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 5


Arnold:

Symphony No. 1, Op. 22

Symphony No. 5, Op. 74


Presto CD

Conifer - 75605512572

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Finzi: Clarinet Concerto & Cello Concerto

Finzi: Clarinet Concerto & Cello Concerto


Finzi:

Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31

John Denman (clarinet)

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Cello Concerto, Op. 40

Yo-Yo Ma (cello)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


“The Cello Concerto was in many ways the composer's swansong… The beautifully slow movement is deeply searching and draws on an Elgarian quality, a poignant nobility. Yo-Yo Ma's wistfully introspective approach - this was his debut recording - captures its gentle intensity and Vernon Handley proves an inspired partner, particularly in the central movement with its exquisite opening and close. There are many recordings of the gorgeous Clarinet Concerto... but John Denman's account is as seductive as any; again Handley is a superbly understanding partner.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

“[Ma's] is not a big performance but a greatly inspired one, and many will like his lightness of touch in the finale...John Denman's performance is entirely seductive. And in both works Vernon Handley's sensitive accompaniment brings first-rate playing” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - August 2007

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Lyrita - SRCD236

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Finzi: A Severn Rhapsody, Eclogue & other works

Finzi: A Severn Rhapsody, Eclogue & other works


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

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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

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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

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


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Chandos Classics - CHAN10235X

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