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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released February 2, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The new Coventry Cathedral was built as an act of reconciliation after the destruction of its mediaeval original during World War II. For its consecration in 1962, a celebratory arts festival was organised, which included the commission of major works from Britten, Tippett, and Arthur Bliss (1891-1975). Of these, Britten’s War Requiem and Bliss’s The Beatitudes were intended for performance in the cathedral. In the event, only Britten’s work was performed in the setting for which it had been conceived. In April 1961 the festival events were outlined in The Times ; Bliss’s The Beatitudes is mentioned as the major new work to be performed in the cathedral. However, « owing to logistical circumstances », the opening concert would be moved to the Belgrade Theatre, of which Bliss was unaware until a few weeks before the premiere. There is no question that Bliss from the outset expected The Beatitudes to be performed in the cathedral, for the instrumentation included a part conceived for the newly installed organ. Doubtless, as Master of the Queen’s Music, Bliss could have dug his heels in and insisted that his work take precedence over Britten’s; but that would have gone against the grain of his values. Without a second thought, Bliss gave way to his younger colleague; moreover, he greatly admired Britten’s genius. Unfortunately the premiere was fraught with difficulties. In his autobiography, As I Remember, Bliss noted that critics hoped that a performance would be given in the Cathedral, its rightful place, on ‘the earliest possible occasion’. It took half a century for this to occur, as part of the cathedral’s Golden Jubilee, in 2012. In The Beatitudes, the texts comprise the nine Beatitudes, an Old Testament passage, poems by three seventeenth-century metaphysical authors, and one poem from the 20th Century. Although he seemed poised on the brink of a brilliant career in Britain, in 1923 Bliss moved to the USA for an unspecified period, accompanying his father who, having lived in England for over thirty years, wished to return to his homeland. Many in Bliss’s position would have hesitated interrupting their career at such a critical juncture; however, so close was the bond between father and son that personal ambition was irrelevant; besides, his half-American ancestry made Bliss curious to see the country the heritage of which he shared. His two-year American sojourn was also significant for his future : with the sounds of the excellent American orchestras ringing in his ears, Bliss composed the Introduction and Allegro in 1926. He dedicated it to Stokowski, who gave the American premiere, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, in 1928. With the Introduction and Allegro, the music of Bliss moves a stride forward to his mature voice, away from the febrile character of his postwar works. Considering that Bliss was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 1953, it is surprising that sixteen years elapsed before he produced an arrangement for chorus and orchestra of the National Anthem. Regal fanfares and ceremonial orchestral links between the stanzas give this version all the flair that made the tenure of Bliss as Master of the Queen’s Music distinctive and successful. It is for Royal Choral Society’s USA tour in 1969 that Bliss made his version of ‘God Save the Queen’, setting the first three stanzas. © SM/Qobuz

Symphonic Music - Released September 4, 2012 | ICA Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason