Author Topic: Sir Arthur Bliss  (Read 27748 times)

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Offline Guido

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2008, 07:02:34 AM »
Thanks for the violin concerto! A beautiful recording.

I'd also like to mention the two string quartets - both firm favourites with me.

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I missed the Two Studies on this CD because Naxos does not advertise them on the cover! I shall certainly buy the CD now!!

They're a couple of gems, especially the first of the two recorded here (it's actually no.2 - no.1 is lost.)
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Offline Christo

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2008, 09:59:56 AM »
Sorry for rambling...and I know that others will not agree with what are purely personal opinions :)

Interestingly enough (for me, at least  ;)) I largely agree with whole lengths of your '''rambling''' evaluation of pieces and composers that are all dear to me, too. And this includes your verdict of the John Blow Variations and Morning Heroes. A minor amendment would be that I side with Thomas in singling out the Coulour Symphony and Things to Come as perhaps his most inspired pieces. I cannot judge them objectively however, as both used to be personal favourites in my teens and those early loves will never die.  :)

(But I never really played the Cello Concerto yet, as it came to me only in its Naxos disguise at a time I bought Naxos CDs by the dozens and had to leave many of them unplayed.)  :-\
… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Guido

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2008, 11:40:55 AM »
Interestingly enough (for me, at least  ;)) I largely agree with whole lengths of your '''rambling''' evaluation of pieces and composers that are all dear to me, too. And this includes your verdict of the John Blow Variations and Morning Heroes. A minor amendment would be that I side with Thomas in singling out the Coulour Symphony and Things to Come as perhaps his most inspired pieces. I cannot judge them objectively however, as both used to be personal favourites in my teens and those early loves will never die.  :)

(But I never really played the Cello Concerto yet, as it came to me only in its Naxos disguise at a time I bought Naxos CDs by the dozens and had to leave many of them unplayed.)  :-\

The Cello Concerto is among my favourites for the instrument. Certainly amongst the most played and most loved of the 365 I have thus far collected. (Hey, I just realised that's one for every day of the year!)
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #43 on: September 12, 2008, 11:41:28 AM »
You need a leap concerto, though.

Offline Guido

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2008, 12:21:59 PM »
You need a leap concerto, though.

You'll have to write me one! ;)
Geologist.

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2008, 03:19:02 AM »
I largely agree with Colin on Bliss, but am more sympathetic to the Colour Symphony (especially in recordings by Bliss himself and Charles Groves.) Even a review of the first recording of Morning Heroes stressed that "one looked in vain for base metals being transformed into gold" and, in this respect, the work was compared adversely with other British choral works like Howells's Hymnus Paradisi or Vaughan Williams's "Dona Nobis Pacem" or Britten's "War Requiem" (even Dyson's long-winded "Quo Vadis" has a metal into gold bit at the end IMHO.)

Nevertheless, I don't agree. The return of the timpani, symbolising the cannon fire over the Somme, at the  very end of Morning Heroes is certainly a goose-pimple moment for me, which I find terribly moving in view of the fact that the work was written to exorcise nightmares of the Battle of the Somme, where Bliss's much loved brother, Kennard had been killed.

If you can find a copy, Bliss's book "As I Remember" is one of the most enjoyable and informative composer autobiographies.

As I mentioned before, the Oboe Quintet is a lovely, oddly haunting pastoral work of great appeal and like some others here, my favourite works by Bliss are the Meditations on a Theme by John Blow (I was delighted to see Hugo Rignold's/ City of Birmingham SO unrivalled Lyrita account restored to circulation recently), Things To Come (Bliss's own recording is my favourite) and I am increasingly enjoying the late Metamorphic Variations, which grows on you I think.

I also do not rate him as highly as VW, Bax, Moeran, Brian and Rubbra, for example, but some of his works, do, I believe, achieve a level of greatness.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Guido

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #46 on: September 13, 2008, 04:01:20 AM »
Does anyone know where to get Metamorphic variations? Is there a CD of it still in print? I know there was one coupled with the Meditations on a Theme by John Blow which I have also not heard but I think this one is long out of print.
Geologist.

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #47 on: September 13, 2008, 11:56:03 AM »
Does anyone know where to get Metamorphic variations? Is there a CD of it still in print? I know there was one coupled with the Meditations on a Theme by John Blow which I have also not heard but I think this one is long out of print.

I have two recordings but they are both deleted. One on Nimbus with Barry Wordsworth conducting the BBC Welsh SO (with A colour Symphony) and one with Vernon Handley on BBC Radio Classics (with Groves conducting the Meditations on a Theme by Blow.) The latter is available at the Amazon UK site but at an inflated price of c £20.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

eyeresist

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #48 on: September 14, 2008, 02:41:38 PM »
I wish there was a complete recording of Things to Come available. :(

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #49 on: September 14, 2008, 04:37:02 PM »
I wish there was a complete recording of Things to Come available. :(


The Concert Suite included on the Chandos disc of Bliss's Film Music is the best we are going to get unfortunately :(
The booklet notes for that disc describe in considerable detail the strange machinations which make it impossible now to reconstruct the entire score.

Offline Dundonnell

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Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #51 on: September 14, 2008, 11:46:02 PM »
I can't rank Bliss yet. The only music I know are his ballet Checkmate and the Colour Symphony, both very appealing and virtuosic pieces. So it's early days in Bliss County.  ;)

My thanks to Colin for uploading the Violin Concerto and the Metamorphic Variations!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #52 on: September 15, 2008, 12:44:33 AM »
I can't rank Bliss yet. The only music I know are his ballet Checkmate and the Colour Symphony, both very appealing and virtuosic pieces. So it's early days in Bliss County.  ;)

My thanks to Colin for uploading the Violin Concerto and the Metamorphic Variations!

Try Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, Oboe Quintet, Morning Heroes and Things to Come.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Guido

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #53 on: September 15, 2008, 07:07:43 AM »
Just heard the Discourse for Orchestra - fantastic piece - now on my list of 'favourite Bliss'! Next stop: Metamorphic Variations, Morning Heroes and Things to Come...
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #54 on: September 15, 2008, 11:40:33 AM »
Anyone familiar with Bliss's "A Song of Welcome" composed in 1954 to mark the return of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip from their tour of the Commonwealth?

It was recorded a month after its first performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the composer with the young Joan Sutherland making her very first recording and with John Cameron as the baritone soloist. The recording was issued a couple of years ago by EMI in their sporadic British Composers Series.

Although one of the first works composed by Bliss after his appointment as Master of the Queen's Music(k) it is, I regret to say, sadly let down by the quite awful text by C. Day Lewis which contains lines such as "Tilting airfields rose to meet you...". I am not at all sure what a "tilting airfield" might be :). Worth hearing...once or maybe twice :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #55 on: September 16, 2008, 02:50:18 AM »
Anyone familiar with Bliss's "A Song of Welcome" composed in 1954 to mark the return of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip from their tour of the Commonwealth?

It was recorded a month after its first performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the composer with the young Joan Sutherland making her very first recording and with John Cameron as the baritone soloist. The recording was issued a couple of years ago by EMI in their sporadic British Composers Series.

Although one of the first works composed by Bliss after his appointment as Master of the Queen's Music(k) it is, I regret to say, sadly let down by the quite awful text by C. Day Lewis which contains lines such as "Tilting airfields rose to meet you...". I am not at all sure what a "tilting airfield" might be :). Worth hearing...once or maybe twice :)

Yes, I have this CD Colin. I remember it having some beautiful passages but I am at work  :o so don't have access to it at the moment!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #56 on: September 16, 2008, 02:57:23 AM »
Yes, I have this CD Colin. I remember it having some beautiful passages but I am at work  :o so don't have access to it at the moment!

Poor Jeffrey :) Work is such an interruption to the better things in life :D ;D

Please have a listen to it later and tell us what you think of the verse :) and the music of course!

Offline Superhorn

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #57 on: September 17, 2008, 01:03:25 PM »
    Another  fine  Bax  work  is  the  piano  concerto,  an  unabashedly  neo-
romantic  piece.  It  would  make  a  welcome  change  at   concerts  today
from  the  same  old  Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov  and  Brahms  piano  concertos,  as  wonderful  as  those  are. I  think  audiences  would  love  it.
   I  have  the  Naxos  CD  with  Peter  Donahue  and  David  Lloyd- Jones  on  Naxos.  Try  it;  you  might  be  surprised.
   The  late  pianist  Solomon  and  Boult  gave  the  world  premiere  back  in  the  30s  at  of  all  places,  the  world  fair !

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #58 on: September 21, 2008, 01:14:28 PM »
Poor Jeffrey :) Work is such an interruption to the better things in life :D ;D

Please have a listen to it later and tell us what you think of the verse :) and the music of course!

Just listened to A Song of Welcome again. The great moment,IMHO is the very opening of the last part 'Soon it is dawn', which is quite magical and like the extremely moving last part of Dyson's long-winded 'Quo Vadis', puts a kind of retrospective glow on the whole piece.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Est.1965

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Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
« Reply #59 on: September 21, 2008, 01:19:14 PM »
So no-one has hear "Miracle in the Gorbals" then?  Hmm.  May have to upload something.
Dear Hans Rott
In the 1980s there was a creative punk group called "Big Audio Dynamite".  I have decided to apply the term to you, my man.  And I still haven't properly finished your Screenplay yet.  Too bad.  Take care anyway old chum, I'm off to listen to Brahms!
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