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Symphonic Music - Released May 19, 2017 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica
The BBC Philharmonic has launched a highly interesting new series dedicated to George Antheil’s symphonic works, the totally underrated music of a composer who began his career with a reputation as an enfant terrible during his formative years in Europe, where he composed a succession of shockingly avant-garde works, including Ballet mécanique in 1925. In this and his other early modernist pieces, the self-styled “Bad Boy of Music” was heavily influenced by the rhythmic dynamism and crushing dissonances of Stravinsky’s early ballets, but his stylistic preoccupations would change markedly after his return to the USA in 1933. He moved towards a fundamentally tonal and melody-based style, surprising those who knew his earlier experimental music by now joining the growing ranks of US symphonists working in tuneful neo-classical and neo-romantic idioms. Antheil considered his Symphony No. 4, begun in 1942, to be a meditation on several aspects of the ongoing war: the massacre in Lidice for the second movement, while the third, a Scherzo, was “a brutal joke, the joke of war”. The Allies’ eventual triumph was adumbrated in the symphony’s dynamic finale. The work was a tremendous success with both critics and concert-goers, and Time magazine felt that the premiere was an “almost unprecedented” phenomenon: a new American symphony which “failed to bore its audience”. The Time reviewer, however, suggested strong influence of Shostakovich; particularly obvious were the apparent nods towards the Russian composer’s bombastic “Leningrad” Symphony (No. 7), first heard in the United States in July 1942. Antheil resented this implication, however, writing in his autobiography that the passage in the middle of his first movement which had most frequently been attributed to his fondness for Shostakovich had in fact been recycled note-for-note from his own opera Transatlantic published as early as 1928 (the reader can readily check that here, track 20). As Antheil was quick to point out, this music therefore had originated during a time just somewhat before Shostakovich had written even one symphony. In 1947, Antheil put the score of a new but unfinished Fifth symphony aside (the work would become the unnumbered tragic Symphony) and devoted himself instead to a completely different Symphony No. 5; this new work would have a far more celebratory nature, as its sobriquet, “Joyous”, unashamedly indicated. Antheil regarded the symphony as marking his final break from what he called “the now passé” musical modernism of the early twentieth century. In his review of the Carnegie Hall performance, music critic Virgil Thomson declared Symphony No. 5 to be Antheil’s best work to date. The album begins with the short Over the Plains (1945, here a world premiere recording), recalling the emotions that he had experienced when travelling through Texas ten years before, on which occasion he knew that one day he would write a piece celebrating not only the optimistic, pioneering spirit that the view had inspired but also the cheerfulness of the local inhabitants. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 2, 2017 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released February 26, 2016 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The British conductor John Wilson is a specialist in light music known for his renditions of, among other music, American film scores. You might think he'd be a natural for Copland, and so he may well be for non-American listeners. In fact, what you get here is a set of readings of Copland standards that are shorn of quite a few accretions of American tradition. It's in the syncopations that you notice the differences most: their zip is tamped down, and in general the broad popular gestures of the music are deemphasized. The result is angular, rather Stravinskian Copland that has been thought out anew. More broadly, there is an effort made not to settle into and luxuriate in the big tunes that for many listeners define the Copland experience. It all makes sense on its own terms, and Copland himself saw a unity among the various phases of his career rather than dividing it into accessible and stylistically progressive aspects. Sample El Salón México (track two) for a fair representation of Wilson's approach, and also for the generally strong orchestral work and the crackling MediaCityUK studio sound from Chandos, a major attraction in itself. This is offbeat rather than mainstream Copland, but (therefore) of considerable interest. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 30, 2015 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
Recorded with the BBC Philharmonic between 2012 and 2015, John Storgårds' box set of the six symphonies of Carl Nielsen follows his 2014 Sibelius cycle on the same label, and he maintains the same high standards of interpretation and performance that made the previous set worthwhile. Storgårds conducts Nielsen's symphonies with an emphasis on their intellectual rigor, muscular counterpoint, and rugged orchestration, so for the most part he eschews lushness and rich tone colors and opts instead for lean textures and crisp articulation, which are essential to Nielsen's sound. Yet these performances are surprisingly vibrant and colorful, and quite appealing for their clarity and distinct separation of parts, while the reproduction gives the musicians a sense of space and presence. However, listeners who have grown accustomed to Chandos' superb audiophile recordings will be disappointed that these are standard stereo CDs, and as good as they sound, they would have been incredible in the multichannel format. As it stands, Storgårds' cycle faces direct competition from Alan Gilbert's hybrid SACD set with the New York Philharmonic, so with comparable approaches and rather similar musical results, this package's clearest advantage is its affordability. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 4, 2014 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
The Chandos label has issued some fine recordings of classic film music, and this release featuring scores by Miklós Rózsa is especially nice. The BBC Philharmonic under Rumon Gamba outdoes itself; the MediaCity sound is superb; and the notes by Andrew Knowles are unusually detailed. But the real attraction is the music of Rózsa himself, which is well represented by these four scores that cover a two-decade period. What's striking is how timeless his scores seem. The earliest of the four, The Thief of Baghdad, was finished in 1940 but has any number of features that, with very slight tweaking, would make it suitable for a film released today. Rózsa combined percussion-heavy sounds influenced by Bartók and Stravinsky with expansive pure Romantic melodies for the scenes of love and sentiment, a combination unlike anything being done in concert music at the time. The mix had unusual flexibility, enabling Rózsa to evoke the swashbuckling Thief of Baghdad, the still more exotic Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, the dramatic adventure of Sahara, and the epic Ben Hur, a film that truly would not be imaginable without its score, all without having to depart from his basic idea. It is not formulaic but rather original enough to encompass many strands of film in the middle 20th century, and there's a great deal of satisfying listening to be had here for film music fans. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released September 25, 2015 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released October 2, 2020 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
For the second volume of the music of Eric Coates, John Wilson has built his programme around three contrasting ‘major’ works. The Suite "Summer Days was premiered in October 1919, shortly after Henry Wood had fired Coates from his position as lead viola in the Queen’s Hall Orchestra. An immediate hit, the suite received rave reviews and many more performances. It was recorded in 1926, Sir Edward Elgar telling Coates that he had played it so often that he had worn out the disc! The Selfish Giant, from 1925, based on Oscar Wilde’s story, was the first in a series of highly successful musical retellings of fairy tales. The Enchanted Garden originated in a commission from the Swedish Broadcasting Company. Although he described The Enchanted Garden as a ballet, Coates conceived it principally as a concert work. Composed in June and July 1938, it was premiered in a BBC radio broadcast in November that year, immediately before Coates took it on tour to Stockholm. Of the other, shorter pieces on the album, Calling All Workers is arguably Coates’s best-known work, composed in the summer of 1940 and dedicated ‘to all who work’. The march was adopted by the BBC as the signature tune for their new daily radio show ‘Music While You Work’, and was heard twice daily for twenty-seven years – clocking up more than 16,000 broadcast performances. © Chandos
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Classical - Released January 22, 2021 | Signum Records

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Classical - Released March 27, 2020 | Chandos

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1905 was a year of revolutionary upheaval in pre-Soviet Russia. Shostakovich based this work on the events of one episode of that year, when thousands of workers and their families converged on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to petition the Tsar over their working and living conditions. The Tsar had been advised to leave, no-one was there to accept the petition, and the authorities resorted to cavalry charges to disperse the crowd. With 200 dead and 500 wounded, this incident damaged the Tsar’s reputation and flamed the fire of revolution in the masses. Whether the work was intended as a politically correct commemoration to please his Soviet paymasters, or actually as a commentary on the 1956 Hungarian uprising, remains under debate. There is no doubt, however, that this majestic score, almost filmic in its conception, remains a milestone in Shostakovich’s output. The BBC Philharmonic under John Storgårds captures here the tremendous intensity of the work. For perhaps the first time for sixty years, this recording uses four church bells, on loan from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, rather than the standard orchestral tubular bells. Church bells may be heard on the earliest recording of the Eleventh Symphony, by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky in 1959, and may therefore be presumed to have the composer’s approval. John Storgårds has chosen to let them ring on after the end of the work, an option also favoured in performance by Mstislav Rostropovich. © Chandos
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Classical - Released September 27, 2019 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
Eric Coates studied at the Royal Academy of Music under Frederick Corder (composition) and Lionel Tertis (viola), and played in string quartets and theatre pit bands before joining symphony orchestras conducted by Thomas Beecham and Henry Wood. His experience as a player added to the rigorous training which Coates had received at the academy and contributed to his skill as a composer. In 1919 he gave up the viola permanently and from then until his death made his living as a composer and occasional conductor. His prolific output includes the suite London (1932), of which the well-known march ‘Knightsbridge’ is the concluding movement, the waltz By the Sleepy Lagoon (1930), and The Dam Busters March (1954). The early compositions of Coates were influenced by the music of Arthur Sullivan and Edward German, but his style evolved in step with changes in musical taste, and his later works incorporate elements derived from jazz and dance-band music. His output consists almost wholly of orchestral music and songs. With the exception of one unsuccessful short ballet, he never wrote for the theatre, and only occasionally for the cinema. John Wilson has spent many years editing all the orchestral works of Coates, and will now be using these new editions for this cycle of recordings with the BBC Philharmonic. © Chandos
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Classical - Released July 30, 2021 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
Considered by some to be the "Cinderella" of his symphonies, the Sixth Symphony of Anton Bruckner was composed in 1879-1881. It may well demonstrate a reaction to the severe criticism of the first Viennese performance, in 1877, of his Third Symphony, which Eduard Hanslick described as "a vision of how Beethoven’s Ninth befriends Wagner’s Walküre and ends up being trampled under her horses’ hoofs". Much the shortest of his mature symphonies, the Sixth also reverts to a more classical form than its predecessors. This recording was made in 2012, during the first season of Juanjo Mena as Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, and just a month before their acclaimed performance of the work at the BBC Proms. Classical Source commented: "Mena didn’t miss a trick and the result for the whole symphony was a revelation, and you don’t get many of those. This was a thrilling, delightful performance". © Chandos
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Classical - Released July 8, 2016 | Chandos

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Classical - Released May 27, 2016 | Chandos

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Classical - Released November 2, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
This is the fourth in the BBC Philharmonic's series of Copland's orchestral music under conductor John Wilson, and it retains the strengths of the earlier releases. One of those strengths is the exposure of Copland works that have fallen into obscurity, generally for no good reason, and that virtue is on special display here. The two short pieces at the end of the program, Letter from Home and Down a Country Lane, the latter arranged for school orchestras, are rarely played, and both are marvelous examples of Copland's melodic gift. The Connotations of 1962, one of Copland's few ventures into the 12-tone system, has also been avoided by programmers who have a host of tonal, broadly popular Copland scores from which to choose. Wilson gets the key challenge with this work, which is to find the characteristic Copland beneath the modernist overtones. The Symphony No. 3 from the mid-1940s, performed in its original version, is not exactly rare, but the reworked Fanfare for the Common Man in the finale is less common than the freestanding work itself. The symphony suggests an American Shostakovich, minus the folk elements (which Copland studiously avoided) and the sardonic edge. The BBC Philharmonic may not have the silken quality of the Koussevitsky-era Boston Symphony for which the work was composed, but it comes close; sample the clean string work in the slow movement. Another fine Copland release from across the pond. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 4, 2016 | Chandos

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Classical - Released September 1, 2005 | Chandos

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Classical - Released April 29, 2016 | Chandos

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Classical - Released June 3, 2014 | Chandos

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Classical - Released April 1, 2014 | Chandos

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