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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: tjguitar on April 16, 2007, 08:20:19 AM

Title: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on April 16, 2007, 08:20:19 AM
Another thread that should be made...I'm still looking for the recent Hickox/violin concerto recording on chandos but I haven't found it at a decent price yet. 

Here's my collection thus far:


(http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/bd/b2/937e793509a005c12a972110._AA240_.L.jpg)(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/fb/05/4db9793509a02a193a972110._AA240_.L.jpg)(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HVTHQ4RQL._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: SonicMan46 on April 16, 2007, 08:42:12 AM
For some discussion & recommendations from the old forum see this thread on 20th Century English Composers (http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,4392.0.html) -  :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Harry on April 16, 2007, 09:37:04 AM
All the Naxos issues are in my collection, and I am well satisfied with them. :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 17, 2007, 01:12:53 AM
There's a good EMI double CD of Groves's "Colour Symphony" "Things to Come" "Adam Zero" etc.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Daverz on April 17, 2007, 01:17:17 AM
I didn't like Groves Colour Symphony, it just seemed to miss the poetry of this music, but maybe I'm too used to the Lloyd Jones recording.

The ASV recording of the complete Checkmate is excellent.  BRO has this and the Lloyd Jones (http://www.berkshirerecordoutlet.com/cgi-bin/seek.pl?StartRow=1&QueryText=bliss+checkmate&AndOr=AND&Meth=Some&RPP=25).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 17, 2007, 09:48:48 AM
I didn't like Groves Colour Symphony, it just seemed to miss the poetry of this music, but maybe I'm too used to the Lloyd Jones recording.

The ASV recording of the complete Checkmate is excellent.  BRO has this and the Lloyd Jones (http://www.berkshirerecordoutlet.com/cgi-bin/seek.pl?StartRow=1&QueryText=bliss+checkmate&AndOr=AND&Meth=Some&RPP=25).

The Groves is my favourite but I'll try the Lloyd Jones again.  I'm looking forwatd to Lyrita reissuing Hugo Rignold's recording of "Meditations on a theme of John Blow", which is my favourite work by Bliss. Also, I hope that EMI will reissues John Westbrook's version of "Morning Heroes"
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on June 14, 2007, 02:49:50 PM
Today I received a new(ish) Bliss CD..

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41t0n0vE7oL._AA240_.jpg)

The Colour Symphony is good, But I prefer Handley's.  The Violin Concerto is good too.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on June 15, 2007, 01:23:49 PM
For sentimental reasons (I discovered it a a youth, and cannot listen to it with objectivity), the Colour Symphony remains a personal favourite. I still stick to the Nimbus recording of it: Barry Wordsworth conducting the BBC Welsh SO, and coupling it with the late Metamorphic Variations.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 17, 2007, 03:11:10 PM
For sentimental reasons (I discovered it a a youth, and cannot listen to it with objectivity), the Colour Symphony remains a personal favourite. I still stick to the Nimbus recording of it: Barry Wordsworth conducting the BBC Welsh SO, and coupling it with the late Metamorphic Variations.

I love Bliss's own recording (Dutton) which I had on a fine old Decca Eclipse LP. I also like his "Things to Come" suite more than any other recording. Rignold's best ever Meditations on a theme by John Blow will be issued on Lyrita later this year (with Music for Strings).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on June 18, 2007, 09:30:43 AM
I love Bliss's own recording (Dutton) which I had on a fine old Decca Eclipse LP. I also like his "Things to Come" suite more than any other recording. Rignold's best ever Meditations on a theme by John Blow will be issued on Lyrita later this year (with Music for Strings).

Again for very sentimental reasons - as I discovered them somewhere in my pre-pubescence  ::) - I love his own recording of 'Things to Come' more than any other (I tried them all, later, but couldn't find the same level of excitement that his own version produced with me). Tho' I own his own recording of the Colour Symphony as well, I must confess I never played them. But NOW I will! - many thanks!.

Good news about the John Blow Meditations, too. I heard that version long ago - but own them only in some BBC Radio recording, I think conducted by Charles Groves.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 21, 2007, 02:58:23 AM
Again for very sentimental reasons - as I discovered them somewhere in my pre-pubescence  ::) - I love his own recording of 'Things to Come' more than any other (I tried them all, later, but couldn't find the same level of excitement that his own version produced with me). Tho' I own his own recording of the Colour Symphony as well, I must confess I never played them. But NOW I will! - many thanks!.

Good news about the John Blow Meditations, too. I heard that version long ago - but own them only in some BBC Radio recording, I think conducted by Charles Groves.
The thing about Bliss's own recording of "Things to Come" (Belart/Dutton) is that he includes a short but very atmospheric and threatening section "Machines" which is unaccountably not included in all the other recordings (Rumon Gamba on Chandos being the exception). I think that Bliss knew best what to include in the suite from his own music!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Hector on June 22, 2007, 04:45:38 AM
I love Bliss's own recording (Dutton) which I had on a fine old Decca Eclipse LP. I also like his "Things to Come" suite more than any other recording. Rignold's best ever Meditations on a theme by John Blow will be issued on Lyrita later this year (with Music for Strings).

Hugo Rignold, there's a 'Blast from the Past.'
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on August 06, 2007, 06:34:44 AM
Can I put in a plea for some of the choral music written by Sir Arthur Bliss? Most of the orchestral music has now been recorded but Bliss wrote some formidable and substantial choral works-the Cantata "The Beatitudes", The Golden Cantata, the Cantata "Mary of Magdala"-to name but three, all written when he was in his 70s.

With Naxos doing sterling work for some of the choral compositions of composers like Finzi and Howells recently I wonder if that company would explore the Bliss Cantatas?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: sound67 on August 06, 2007, 07:17:44 AM
For sentimental reasons (I discovered it a a youth, and cannot listen to it with objectivity), the Colour Symphony remains a personal favourite. I still stick to the Nimbus recording of it: Barry Wordsworth conducting the BBC Welsh SO, and coupling it with the late Metamorphic Variations.

On the whole, the Wordsworth to me still seems the best recording of the Colour Symphony. Energy and poetry in equal measure.

Handley would be the runner up. The recent Hickox is rough and ready (just like his recent RVW "Sea Symphony"), the Lloyd-Jones is solid, but too matter-of-fact.

The Bliss disc I treasure most though is this one from the Nash Ensemble:

(http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/jpegs/66137.jpg)

It contains some of Bliss' then-scandalous short works like "Madame Noy" and "Rout" (original version), as well as a version of "Conversations" superior to the one on Naxos. Also, there is the lovely Oboe Quintet.

The Violin Concerto that is also on the Hickox CS CD is a more problematic, meandering work. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to hunt down copies of either of Campoli's recordings of this work (both under Bliss, 13 years apart). Mordkovitch I think may not be the ideal soloist for this piece, at least not at the present stage of her career.

I like the Cello Concerto a lot, although it is a slighter work (acknowledged by Bliss himself who wanted to redesignate it as a Concertino). Robert Cohen and Raphael Wallfisch have both made very engaging recordings of it (under Barry Wordsworth and Vernon Handley, respectively).

Also worth having are the beautiful Music for Strings, the ballets Checkmate and Adam Zero, the chamber music, and his film scores. The work I like least is the Piano Concerto. On the whole I'd rate his earlier works above his later oeuvre. His music is a unique combination of Stravinsky and Elgar, with Stravinsky dominating the earlier part of Bliss' career, Elgar the latter.

Thomas
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Harry on August 06, 2007, 07:49:30 AM
What about this one, am inclined to buy this.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on August 06, 2007, 07:58:21 AM
What about this one, am inclined to buy this.

Yes, that is  good. I'm not a big fan of "The Enchantress", but the Colour Symphony & Cello Concerto are worth it.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: sound67 on August 06, 2007, 08:02:29 AM
Seconded. The Enchantress is a pleasant but unremarkable piece. This is the Handley CS that I was referring to as the "next best" recording of the piece.

Never got to hear "Morning Heroes", Bliss' large-scale oratorio/choral symphony which he wrote to cope with the death of his brother - as the Wigglesworth CD (was it Wigglesworth?) went out of print before I could get hold of it. Also, the EMI British Composers version is long gone.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Harry on August 06, 2007, 08:16:42 AM
Right, thank you, in the order bin then! :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: sound67 on August 06, 2007, 08:36:11 AM
Quote
http://imagegen.last.fm/basicrt10/recenttracks/tjguitar85.gif

BTW: That's a rather disappointing version of Korngold's The Sea Hawk. Get the two suites by Charles Gerhardt, or thew Previn version. Stromberg and the Moscow band lack panache throughout!

Thomas
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on August 06, 2007, 10:50:00 AM
BTW: That's a rather disappointing version of Korngold's The Sea Hawk. Get the two suites by Charles Gerhardt, or thew Previn version. Stromberg and the Moscow band lack panache throughout!

Thomas

I have the Gerhardts (and the Kojian). Ive read nothing but awful about the Previn recordings.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: sound67 on August 06, 2007, 02:25:32 PM
Still MUCH better than the Stromberg. His version goes to show that "where there's a will, there's a way" is just plain wrong!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on November 04, 2007, 07:22:33 PM
Right, thank you, in the order bin then! :)


What did you think, Harry?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on December 17, 2007, 09:58:37 AM
I can recommend two recent issues. A historical recording (Griller Quartet) of String Quartet 1 and 2 on Dutton (super-budget) and, in particular, Hugo Rignold's unrivalled version of Meditations on a Theme by John Blow (possibly Bliss's masterpiece), with the Music for Strings on Lyrita.

I have a number of recordings of the Blow Meditations but Rignold's is in a class of its own with a gripping urgency and visionary quality not found, IMHO, elsewhere.A great performance of a moving and powerful score.

Strongly recommended

It's at the top of the "November Releases" below:

http://www.lyrita.co.uk/
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 11, 2008, 12:06:15 PM
I was interested in reading the obituaries of the late, great Vernon Handley of his close friendship with Bliss. Apparently Vernon Handley thought that Bliss's choral symphony 'Morning Heroes' was the most moving work he had ever come across (notwithstanding the absence of a wind-machine  ;D) from an initial reading of the score. Morning Heroes was, I believe, Charles's Groves's finest hour in the recording studio and his EMI recording was reissued in a fine double album a while back.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on September 11, 2008, 12:18:06 PM
(notwithstanding the absence of a wind-machine  ;D)

 ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Don on September 11, 2008, 12:26:03 PM
Another fine recording pairs Britten and Bliss chamber music on the Cedille label.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 11, 2008, 12:40:23 PM
;D

A sad and lamentable misjudgment on the part of Sir Arthur Bliss which undoubtedly merits an extended, in depth and unmistakably erudite discussion in the course of which we shall all of course fall out repeatedly and call each other names ;) ;) ;D :)

(Sorry!)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on September 11, 2008, 04:08:02 PM
I love Bliss' music - so much good stuff - chiefly the wonderful cello concerto and the Music for Strings, but am I the only Bliss fan that has no love for the Colours Symphony. I find it extremely tedious.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 11, 2008, 11:51:23 PM
Another fine recording pairs Britten and Bliss chamber music on the Cedille label.

This is a great CD! The Oboe Quintet is one of my favourite pieces of chamber music.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 12, 2008, 03:06:41 AM
Bliss is a composer whose music I admire and respect. In the final analysis however I don't feel that he can be rated as a 'great composer' or that he is in quite the same league as Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Brian, Britten, Rubbra or even(although I am not sympathetic to his music myself) Delius. Nor do I personally find his music as thrilling or inspiring as-in their different ways-I respond to Simpson, Alwyn or Arnell.

Proficient, well-written, admirable in so many respects but I find with Bliss that there is just that last ounce of inspiration missing that transforms music for me and touches something that makes me 'really sit up and notice'. I fully appreciate that this is an entirely subjective assessment which others will disagree with :)

The Colour Symphony-which Guido finds boring-I like but often find leaves me feeling that however well constructed it is as an orchestral showpiece there is just that 'something' missing that would have left me feeling that Bliss had put more 'heart' into the music.
The Piano Concerto is a grand exercise in the romantic tradition of barnstorming piano concertos but again......
I think that the seldom heard Violin Concerto is ultimately a better work than that for piano and deserves more exposure.
Yes, the Music for Strings is a fine piece in the great tradition of British works for strings but it does not stand up so well for me than the Tallis Fantasia or Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra, for example.

'Morning Heroes' is indeed, as Jeffrey has implied, a work in which Bliss does seem to have put more of himself, where one can hear real genuine commitment, heart, spirit, inspiration....call it what you will. And, as I have said before on this forum, I would like to hear other choral works by Bliss like the Cantata 'The Beatitudes'.

My own favourite Bliss piece is actually the 'Meditations on a theme by John Blow'-a work in which I feel that Bliss is responding to a stimulus and which therefore goes deeper and produces more of a response in the listener. The Metamorphic Variations are also worth hearing.

Sorry for rambling...and I know that others will not agree with what are purely personal opinions :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: sound67 on September 12, 2008, 03:48:04 AM
I share some of your ambivalent feelings about Bliss, though not concerning the Colour Symphony, IMHO a masterpiece of brilliant orchestral wirting, and a piece close to my heart (my No.2 of "desert island" works, second only to the Tallis Fantasia).

In the Colour Symphony, I find the peculiar mix of Elgar and Stravinsky particularly intriguing, and it is the early Bliss - strongly influenced, as so many of his compatriots at that time, by Petrouchka - that appeals to me most.

The chamber works such as Conversations, Rout and Madam Noy I find endlessly entertaining. Also, Introduction and Allegro is a strong piece, as are his ballets Checkmate and Adam Zero.

The Piano Concerto, frankly, has always struck me as a big dull dud (whether played by Philip Fowke OR Solomon), and the Violin Concerto meanders quite a bit - though I'd love to hear either of the Campoli recordings of it! The Cello Concerto I find attractive, if very "retro", and I think Bliss was suggested to Britten he should have called it a concertino instead.

Thomas
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 12, 2008, 04:05:07 AM
I share some of your ambivalent feelings about Bliss, though not concerning the Colour Symphony, IMHO a masterpiece of brilliant orchestral wirting, and a piece close to my heart (my No.2 of "desert island" works, second only to the Tallis Fantasia).

In the Colour Symphony, I find the peculiar mix of Elgar and Stravinsky particularly intriguing, and it is the early Bliss - strongly influenced, as so many of his compatriots at that time, by Petrouchka - that appeals to me most.

The chamber works such as Conversations, Rout and Madam Noy I find endlessly entertaining. Also, Introduction and Allegro is a strong piece, as are his ballets Checkmate and Adam Zero.

The Piano Concerto, frankly, has always struck me as a big dull dud (whether played by Philip Fowke OR Solomon), and the Violin Concerto meanders quite a bit - though I'd love to hear either of the Campoli recordings of it! The Cello Concerto I find attractive, if very "retro", and I think Bliss was suggested to Britten he should have called it a concertino instead.

Thomas

If you would like I could upload a Campoli recording of the Violin Concerto. I have the 1968 recording with Campoli and the BBC Symphony orchestra with the composer conducting.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2008, 04:10:24 AM
Bliss is a composer whose music I admire and respect. In the final analysis however I don't feel that he can be rated as a 'great composer' or that he is in quite the same league as Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Brian, Britten, Rubbra or even(although I am not sympathetic to his music myself) Delius. Nor do I personally find his music as thrilling or inspiring as-in their different ways-I respond to Simpson, Alwyn or Arnell.

Proficient, well-written, admirable in so many respects but I find with Bliss that there is just that last ounce of inspiration missing that transforms music for me and touches something that makes me 'really sit up and notice'. I fully appreciate that this is an entirely subjective assessment which others will disagree with :)

The Colour Symphony-which Guido finds boring-I like but often find leaves me feeling that however well constructed it is as an orchestral showpiece there is just that 'something' missing that would have left me feeling that Bliss had put more 'heart' into the music.
The Piano Concerto is a grand exercise in the romantic tradition of barnstorming piano concertos but again......
I think that the seldom heard Violin Concerto is ultimately a better work than that for piano and deserves more exposure.
Yes, the Music for Strings is a fine piece in the great tradition of British works for strings but it does not stand up so well for me than the Tallis Fantasia or Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra, for example.

'Morning Heroes' is indeed, as Jeffrey has implied, a work in which Bliss does seem to have put more of himself, where one can hear real genuine commitment, heart, spirit, inspiration....call it what you will. And, as I have said before on this forum, I would like to hear other choral works by Bliss like the Cantata 'The Beatitudes'.

My own favourite Bliss piece is actually the 'Meditations on a theme by John Blow'-a work in which I feel that Bliss is responding to a stimulus and which therefore goes deeper and produces more of a response in the listener. The Metamorphic Variations are also worth hearing.

Sorry for rambling...and I know that others will not agree with what are purely personal opinions :)

Have you heard the cello concerto? This is my favourite work by Bliss - and not just because it is a cello concerto - the incredible beauty of cello writing and the way the line sails above the orchestra is just astonishigly brilliant. One of my favourite pieces of music. Although the idiom is old fashioned in a sense, the writing is still very fresh and his use of tonality is not at all tired - very personal - this couldn't have been written by anyone else.  

Tim Hugh's recording is the best one available I think - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bliss-Cello-Concerto-Music-Strings/dp/B00000147T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1221224572&sr=8-1 The review is mine. There is also a recording by Arto Noras that I believe was recently released on CD - this is an equally fine reading. There is another recording by a female cellist whose name escapes me at the moment - don't worry it's not very good. I comment on the Wallfisch and Cohen in the review.

On a side note... Cohen is a weird cellist actually - very rough in live performances so that he produces a huge sound whcih is unpleasant to sit too close to. But in some of his studio recordings he produces the most glorious tone - for instance in the Gruber concerto (which you must hear if you haven't) - probably the hardest cello concerto ever written, barring perhaps Schnittke's second - he produces a performance of immesne beauty. In the Bliss I was rather disappointed.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: sound67 on September 12, 2008, 04:13:09 AM
Quote
If you would like I could upload a Campoli recording of the Violin Concerto. I have the 1968 recording with Campoli and the BBC Symphony orchestra with the composer conducting.

That would be nice.  ;)

Further on Bliss, I think his later career was stifled by his job as Master of the Queen's Musick. He wrote very little of value after 1953. Same had happened to Bax before.

I was reminded of it yesterday when I read that the present Poet Laureate is complaining that the appointment caused a writer's block and may have ruined his career.  :(

Another very fine, perhaps, on reflection, the most important of Bliss' works is his exemplary film score for Things to Come, a milestone in British film music.

Thomas
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: John Copeland on September 12, 2008, 04:14:58 AM
Miracle in the Gorbals - Sir Arthur Bliss.
Queensland SO - Christopher Lyndon-Gee
NAXOS



Obviously I was attracted to this, the Gorbals being only two miles away from where I live (now a cosmopolitan area, not the run down slum it was in 1943 when this was written).

Puccinis 'Tosca' was once slayed as a "shabby little shocker" - and that is exactly what the story of this ballet score is - but a beautiful and haunting shabby shocker!  Anyone else got it / heard it?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 12, 2008, 04:17:02 AM
Have you heard the cello concerto? This is my favourite work by Bliss - and not just because it is a cello concerto - the incredible beauty of cello writing and the way the line sails above the orchestra is just astonishigly brilliant. One of my favourite pieces of music. Although the idiom is old fashioned in a sense, the writing is still very fresh and his use of tonality is not at all tired - very personal - this couldn't have been written by anyone else.  

Tim Hugh's recording is the best one available I think - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bliss-Cello-Concerto-Music-Strings/dp/B00000147T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1221224572&sr=8-1 The review is mine. There is also a recording by Arto Noras that I believe was recently released on CD - this is an equally fine reading. There is another recording by a female cellist whose name escapes me at the moment - don't worry it's not very good. I comment on the Wallfisch and Cohen in the review.

On a side note... Cohen is a weird cellist actually - very rough in live performances so that he produces a huge sound whcih is unpleasant to sit too close to. But in some of his studio recordings he produces the most glorious tone - for instance in the Gruber concerto (which you must hear if you haven't) - probably the hardest cello concerto ever written, barring perhaps Schnittke's second - he produces a performance of immesne beauty. In the Bliss I was rather disappointed.


I do know the Cello Concerto but the two recordings I have are the Wallfisch and the Cohen so perhaps I should take your advice and listen to Tim Hugh's recording :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 12, 2008, 04:17:44 AM
That would be nice.  ;)

Further on Bliss, I think his later career was stifled by his job as Master of the Queen's Musick. He wrote very little of value after 1953. Same had happened to Bax before.

I was reminded of it yesterday when I read that the present Poet Laureate is complaining that the appointment caused a writer's block and may have ruined his career.  :(

Another very fine, perhaps, on reflection, the most important of Bliss' works is his exemplary film score for Things to Come, a milestone in British film music.

Thomas

Watch this space then!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2008, 05:32:51 AM
I do know the Cello Concerto but the two recordings I have are the Wallfisch and the Cohen so perhaps I should take your advice and listen to Tim Hugh's recording :)

This also has the advantage of being coupled with a good recording of the music for strings and also the wonderful two studies from his youth - his first orchestral works but just brilliant little pieces. (and its cheapness!)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 12, 2008, 05:55:35 AM
I missed the Two Studies on this CD because Naxos does not advertise them on the cover! I shall certainly buy the CD now!!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 12, 2008, 06:03:10 AM
The Bliss Violin Concerto-Alfredo Campoli with the BBC Symphony Orchestra(the composer)-1968 performance.

http://www.mediafire.com/?vw2jqwdcmov (http://www.mediafire.com/?vw2jqwdcmov)

http://www.mediafire.com/?mhkibprub9r (http://www.mediafire.com/?mhkibprub9r)

http://www.mediafire.com/?b7swzmqc43v (http://www.mediafire.com/?b7swzmqc43v)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido 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.

Quote
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.)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo 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.)  :-\
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido 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!)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: lukeottevanger on September 12, 2008, 11:41:28 AM
You need a leap concerto, though.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2008, 12:21:59 PM
You need a leap concerto, though.

You'll have to write me one! ;)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido 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.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: eyeresist on September 14, 2008, 02:41:38 PM
I wish there was a complete recording of Things to Come available. :(
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell 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.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on September 14, 2008, 05:40:05 PM
For you, Guido-

Metamorphic Variations-BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra(Barry Wordsworth)-

I Elements

http://www.mediafire.com/?sxjdgptp4yf (http://www.mediafire.com/?sxjdgptp4yf)

II Ballet

http://www.mediafire.com/?9gyvg1p69gi (http://www.mediafire.com/?9gyvg1p69gi)

III Assertion

http://www.mediafire.com/?c7vtzbxd88l (http://www.mediafire.com/?c7vtzbxd88l)

IV Speculation

http://www.mediafire.com/?zyzbbrygaxw (http://www.mediafire.com/?zyzbbrygaxw)

V Interjections

http://www.mediafire.com/?9shgw65w0sr (http://www.mediafire.com/?9shgw65w0sr)

VI Scherzo I

http://www.mediafire.com/?mtazkdhw72m (http://www.mediafire.com/?mtazkdhw72m)

VII Contemplation

http://www.mediafire.com/?9youh2yldlp (http://www.mediafire.com/?9youh2yldlp)

VIII Polonaise

http://www.mediafire.com/?vhonbybwmew (http://www.mediafire.com/?vhonbybwmew)

IX Funeral Processions

http://www.mediafire.com/?9t0c2yi2oxg (http://www.mediafire.com/?9t0c2yi2oxg)

X Cool Interlude

http://www.mediafire.com/?w7dg9gxgozm (http://www.mediafire.com/?w7dg9gxgozm)

XI Scherzo II

http://www.mediafire.com/?0jqelueb1gs (http://www.mediafire.com/?0jqelueb1gs)

XII Duet

http://www.mediafire.com/?4ud4de9sqrm (http://www.mediafire.com/?4ud4de9sqrm)

XIII Dedication

http://www.mediafire.com/?jmt1tyeby05 (http://www.mediafire.com/?jmt1tyeby05)

XIV Affirmation

http://www.mediafire.com/?jhyhheyrtvm (http://www.mediafire.com/?jhyhheyrtvm)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg 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!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido 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...
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell 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 :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen 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!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell 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!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Superhorn 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 !
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: John Copeland on September 21, 2008, 01:19:14 PM
So no-one has hear "Miracle in the Gorbals" then?  Hmm.  May have to upload something.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 21, 2008, 01:52:04 PM
So no-one has hear "Miracle in the Gorbals" then?  Hmm.  May have to upload something.

It's on the same CD as the Song of Welcome, mentioned above. I really like Miracle in the Gorbals.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on September 21, 2008, 02:43:32 PM
I agree - a fantastic piece, one of my favourites of the Bliss oevre.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 07, 2009, 07:19:21 AM
I was interested to hear that Lady Bliss died last November - at the age of 104!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on March 07, 2009, 07:45:19 AM
I was interested to hear that Lady Bliss died last November - at the age of 104!

We didn't read about this news, over here.  :'( Good to know that she even survived other equally talented composers' widows like Ursula Vaughan Williams (died 2007 at the age of 96) and Mary Alwyn (Carwithen) (died 2003 at the age of 81).

And all of course more than worthy successors of `my little darling wife' Constanze.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 07, 2009, 09:44:33 AM
We didn't read about this news, over here.  :'( Good to know that she even survived other equally talented composers' widows like Ursula Vaughan Williams (died 2007 at the age of 96) and Mary Alwyn (Carwithen) (died 2003 at the age of 81).

And all of course more than worthy successors of `my little darling wife' Constanze.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/3497984/Lady-Bliss.html
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on March 07, 2009, 04:36:41 PM
I was interested to hear that Lady Bliss died last November - at the age of 104!

Lady Susana Walton is still alive though and looking after her wonderful garden on the island of Ischia.

You know....Lady Walton, widow of the great British composer.......... ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 08, 2009, 12:56:01 AM
Lady Susana Walton is still alive though and looking after her wonderful garden on the island of Ischia.

You know....Lady Walton, widow of the great British composer.......... ;D

 ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 08, 2009, 10:58:01 AM
Have been listening again to 'Metamorphic Variations' - what a great work - composed when Bliss was 81.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on March 08, 2009, 11:12:53 AM
You know....Lady Walton, widow of the great British composer.......... ;D

Walton, Walton .... the name doesn't sound familiar. What about Lady Britten?  ::)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Dundonnell on March 08, 2009, 02:51:55 PM
Walton, Walton .... the name doesn't sound familiar. What about Lady Britten?  ::)

Died in 1986. (Please forgive me ::))
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on July 07, 2009, 02:23:32 PM
My latest Bliss acquisition:

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/a7/74/ea12a2c008a0541cb5bc1010.L.jpg)

I mostly got this for the Meditations, as I have Handley's latter recording of the Checkmate suite with the Ulster, and I have this same recording of Adam Zero on a more recent 2 disc EMI Bliss compilation, this release apparently only has excerpts of the suite.


I await the following:

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/16/a2/7fc912bb9da0d1745fa4c010.L.jpg)

for the Edinburgh Overture and the Miracles in the Gorbals suite.

Now watch EMI reissue this stuff next year in remastered sound....
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 08, 2009, 04:26:00 AM
My latest Bliss acquisition:

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/a7/74/ea12a2c008a0541cb5bc1010.L.jpg)

I mostly got this for the Meditations, as I have Handley's latter recording of the Checkmate suite with the Ulster, and I have this same recording of Adam Zero on a more recent 2 disc EMI Bliss compilation, this release apparently only has excerpts of the suite.


I await the following:

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/16/a2/7fc912bb9da0d1745fa4c010.L.jpg)

for the Edinburgh Overture and the Miracles in the Gorbals suite.

Now watch EMI reissue this stuff next year in remastered sound....

Those are two of the very best Bliss discs - although I was delighted to see the return of Hugo Rignold's Birmingham performance of 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow' which is my favourite performance of this work (Lyrita).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scarpia on February 09, 2010, 04:01:30 PM
Just listened to Bliss' quintet for clarinet and strings.  An intersting work.  Well done interplay of the clarinet and string quartet, and interesting counterpoint within the string quartet and between the strings and clarinet.  Last week it was Bliss' music for strings, which has an absolutely fantastic first movement, with delicious dissonances.  I'm finding it frustrating that few recordings exist of Bliss' works.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on February 09, 2010, 04:32:23 PM
Just listened to Bliss' quintet for clarinet and strings.  An intersting work.  Well done interplay of the clarinet and string quartet, and interesting counterpoint within the string quartet and between the strings and clarinet.  Last week it was Bliss' music for strings, which has an absolutely fantastic first movement, with delicious dissonances.  I'm finding it frustrating that few recordings exist of Bliss' works.

I agree that it is an interesting work, but I never understand when people say that it is his greatest work... I like it, but don't love it. The Music for strings is certainly a stronger work to my ears. Maybe I'll have a listen today.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scarpia on February 15, 2010, 01:18:16 PM
Most recently, Hymn to Apollo and Checkmate Suite.  Both superb, especially the Apollo thing.  I am becoming a Bliss fanatic, I'm afraid.  The Chandos recording of the Bliss Violin Concerto (with Colour Symphony) and a Lyrita recording with Meditations on a Theme by John Blow and Music for Strings are now on order.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on February 16, 2010, 12:26:07 AM
The lovely Oboe Quintet is my favourite chamber work by Bliss (on Naxos). The Lyrita 'Meditations on a Theme by Blow' is a great performance of a work, unfairly described as 'amiable but rambling' in my CD guide.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scarpia on February 16, 2010, 12:34:12 AM
The lovely Oboe Quintet is my favourite chamber work by Bliss (on Naxos).

I found this one for a bit over $2 on Amazon Marketplace, the same piece I believe.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41uPZINeafL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

Too bad there's no production of Checkmate on video.

I think my next obsession will be Parry.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on February 16, 2010, 09:12:14 AM
I found this one for a bit over $2 on Amazon Marketplace, the same piece I believe.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41uPZINeafL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

Too bad there's no production of Checkmate on video.

I think my next obsession will be Parry.

Yes, that looks like it.  Did you enjoy it?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scarpia on February 16, 2010, 09:13:27 AM
Yes, that looks like it.  Did you enjoy it?

Hasn't arrived yet.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on February 17, 2010, 12:00:49 AM
Hasn't arrived yet.

OK I'll let you off then  ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scarpia on February 21, 2010, 07:55:02 AM
OK I'll let you off then  ;D

Unfortunately the vendor shipped the wrong CD, I have to reorder.

In any case, listened to the Checkmate Suite and Hymn to Apollo again.  Initially I was attracted by the harmonies, but I have starting to appreciate Bliss more for his exquisite melodic invention.  Flowing melodies with lots of large intervals, just what I like.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 03, 2010, 02:19:16 AM
If you missed this first time round on Marco Polo I'd strongly recommend it. One of the best in the Naxos Film Music Classics I think (with Waxman's 'Rebecca', Auric's 'La Belle et La Bete' and Honegger's 'Demon of the Himalayas'). I really enjoyed ever work on the CD, and rate Christopher Columbus Suite very highly - a most enjoyable CD. 'Men of Two Worlds' is a lovely work too.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on July 19, 2010, 01:34:27 AM
I'm looking for a CD of the premiere performance of Bliss' cello concerto - it on Intaglio, INCD 7151, published in 1992, but sadly now predictably out of print - does anyone have this?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on August 08, 2010, 10:15:22 AM
I'm looking for a CD of the premiere performance of Bliss' cello concerto - it on Intaglio, INCD 7151, published in 1992, but sadly now predictably out of print - does anyone have this?

might try the Bliss Society - http://www.arthurbliss.org/

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on August 08, 2010, 10:17:38 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mSUmlVDQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


This CD came out a few months ago, has anyone picked it up?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: jurajjak on August 08, 2010, 02:53:08 PM
Don't forget Bliss's major opera, The Olympians. It's a work of boundless energy and invention, very quickly paced all the way through and colorfully orchestrated. Its neglect is truly sad, if not surprising.


andrew
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 10, 2010, 01:40:51 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mSUmlVDQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


This CD came out a few months ago, has anyone picked it up?

Yes, it is a very good CD. The coupling is unique - two of Bliss's finest scores. The best performance of the Blow Meditations is with Hugo Rignold on Lyrita, but this one is still excellent. The Metamorphic Variations was Bliss's last major score - it is a work I have only discovered recently and one to which I return offer. The performance here is as good as the others on Nimbus and BBC Radio Classics and the recording is superior. It is an eloquent, searching and powerful score.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Mirror Image on August 10, 2010, 07:01:08 PM
Bliss wrote some good music like Colour Symphony which is severely underrated. Checkmate is another fine work. He's a great composer.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Sid on August 10, 2010, 10:14:37 PM
I have not heard a huge amount by this composer, but I do like his Clarinet Quintet. It probably ranks along with the great works for that combination, by Mozart, Weber & Brahms. The clarinet was a favourite instrument of Bliss' brother who was killed in WW1. It is a very poignant work, especially the clarinet solo in the beginning. One thing I find a bit difficult with Bliss is that he was quite eclectic, everything from Romanticism to Impressionism and Modernism (so many isms) went into his music. But he seems to have done it skilfully, even though not all of his music grabs me like the quintet...
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 11, 2010, 12:28:52 PM
Bliss wrote some good music like Colour Symphony which is severely underrated. Checkmate is another fine work. He's a great composer.

I agree - also his film score 'Things to Come' and ballets ' Miracle in the Gorbals' and 'Adam Zero'.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scarpia on August 11, 2010, 01:20:39 PM
Checkmate is another fine work.

I find myself often frustrated that there is no record of or way to appreciate the ballets themselves.  I would love to see a film of Bliss's Checkmate, William Schuman's Undertow or Judith.  Only recently has a decent recreation of Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps become available. 
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 11, 2010, 10:20:22 PM
Bliss's lovely Oboe Quintet is one of my favourite pieces of chamber music (there are several recordings including one on Naxos).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Mirror Image on August 13, 2010, 06:33:43 PM
I find myself often frustrated that there is no record of or way to appreciate the ballets themselves.  I would love to see a film of Bliss's Checkmate, William Schuman's Undertow or Judith.  Only recently has a decent recreation of Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps become available.

Yet another sign of the declining classical market.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Guido on August 15, 2010, 01:02:50 PM
I have not heard a huge amount by this composer, but I do like his Clarinet Quintet. It probably ranks along with the great works for that combination, by Mozart, Weber & Brahms.

Really? Mozart and Brahms?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on November 17, 2010, 12:23:18 AM
I am greatly enjoying this CD - amazingly still available very cheaply on Amazon UK (Unicorn have long disappeared). Bliss it seems to me is one of those composers who just misses greatness (although perhaps 'Morning Heroes' does achieve this) - but I find myself often returning to his music.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: eyeresist on March 24, 2011, 05:14:15 PM
I'm looking into Bliss again, thanks chiefly to the rerelease of the Things to Come Suite conducted by Herrmann. I don't think anyone makes as much of this music as him, especially in the Prologue and Epilogue. (I love the vertiginous nausea embodied by the Prologue.) Fine playing and good recording too.

The Groves recording of the Colour Symphony still doesn't do much for me. I think this may partly be due to the old sound - a virtuoso work like this needs a much fresher and more lively recording. I'm thinking of getting the Lloyd-Jones next.

Morning Heroes - tossing up between Groves and Kibblewhite (on Argo). Gramophone says Kibblewhite is more dramatic and has the better choir, but prefers Groves' speaker. My reaction from listening to Amazon samples was exactly opposite to this! (But I agree with their disappointment at Kibblewhite's two-dimensional sound.) Best thing might be to stitch Brian Blessed's speech onto Groves' performance?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Daverz on March 24, 2011, 06:34:38 PM
The Groves recording of the Colour Symphony still doesn't do much for me. I think this may partly be due to the old sound - a virtuoso work like this needs a much fresher and more lively recording. I'm thinking of getting the Lloyd-Jones next.

I much prefer Lloyd-Jones to Groves, though I don't think Groves is bad.  I haven't heard Handley or Hickox, though.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Mirror Image on March 24, 2011, 06:40:46 PM
I much prefer Lloyd-Jones to Groves, though I don't think Groves is bad.  I haven't heard Handley or Hickox, though.

I own all the recordings of A Colour Symphony --- Lloyd-Jones, Groves, Handley, Hickox, Wordsworth. The best performance I've heard is Handley's with the Ulster Orchestra on Chandos. He seems to reach deeper than any of the other performances I've heard. You can actually feel the shape of work with all of these beautiful intertwining strands which form into a cohesive whole. Handley works wonders with this score.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: eyeresist on March 24, 2011, 07:22:21 PM
Could you list your versions in order of preference?
 
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Mirror Image on March 24, 2011, 08:21:00 PM
Could you list your versions in order of preference?

Sure...

Handley
Hickox
Lloyd-Jones
Wordsworth
Groves
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: eyeresist on March 24, 2011, 08:32:29 PM
Thank you! Good to know. Hopefully next week I can afford to buy some records.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Mirror Image on March 24, 2011, 08:43:01 PM
Thank you! Good to know. Hopefully next week I can afford to buy some records.

You're welcome. The Handley...



Can be purchased rather inexpensively through an Amazon Marketplace seller. It's on sale for $4.49 (plus shipping) right now. Excellent price.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 24, 2011, 11:46:14 PM
I'm looking into Bliss again, thanks chiefly to the rerelease of the Things to Come Suite conducted by Herrmann. I don't think anyone makes as much of this music as him, especially in the Prologue and Epilogue. (I love the vertiginous nausea embodied by the Prologue.) Fine playing and good recording too.

The Groves recording of the Colour Symphony still doesn't do much for me. I think this may partly be due to the old sound - a virtuoso work like this needs a much fresher and more lively recording. I'm thinking of getting the Lloyd-Jones next.

Morning Heroes - tossing up between Groves and Kibblewhite (on Argo). Gramophone says Kibblewhite is more dramatic and has the better choir, but prefers Groves' speaker. My reaction from listening to Amazon samples was exactly opposite to this! (But I agree with their disappointment at Kibblewhite's two-dimensional sound.) Best thing might be to stitch Brian Blessed's speech onto Groves' performance?

Unfortunately Herrmann, like many others excludes 'Machines' from 'Things to Come' - I find it one of the most atmospheric sections.  Bliss included it in his own selection of extracts and I don't understand while all the other versions (other than Rumon Gamba's complete recording on Chandos) do not include it.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: John Whitmore on March 25, 2011, 03:03:11 AM
I'm a Bliss fan and was fortunate enough to have played under him with the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra. Here's a link to the LSSO playing the brilliant Introduction and Allegro conducted by Sir Arthur.I've also added on YouTube, in 5 parts, a documentary about the Leicester Haymarket production of Lady of Shallot from 1975 which includes a short section of Sir Arthur playing the piano in his London home. Here are the links:

http://www.mediafire.com/?kgiumma4lwm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2-UQK_ZqZ0
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on September 26, 2011, 08:37:31 PM
New set from EMI, but appears to be mostly reissues of recent CDs. Missing some of the Handley and Berglund recordings...(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VWukFnKeL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Its too bad they didn't include everything...

http://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Bliss/dp/B0056H0R3C/
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 26, 2011, 10:01:58 PM
New set from EMI, but appears to be mostly reissues of recent CDs. Missing some of the Handley and Berglund recordings...(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VWukFnKeL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Its too bad they didn't include everything...

http://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Bliss/dp/B0056H0R3C/

Thanks for correcting my Amazon review! Yes, I'm sorry that there was no 'Meditations on a Theme of John Blow' or 'Morning Heroes' or Piano Concerto.  Still, I think it's a fine set and I had forgotten how good 'Adam Zero' is.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on September 27, 2011, 05:23:38 AM
Thanks for correcting my Amazon review! Yes, I'm sorry that there was no 'Meditations on a Theme of John Blow' or 'Morning Heroes' or Piano Concerto.  Still, I think it's a fine set and I had forgotten how good 'Adam Zero' is.

I agree, I just wish the would have taken the opportunity to include Handley's Edinburgh Overture and Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, Berglund's Miracles in the Gorbals...Edinburgh Overture is on this Handley set at least:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51at1PzNk0L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vernon-Handley-ICON/dp/B005AAVFHC
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Lethevich on September 27, 2011, 08:12:39 AM
New set from EMI, but appears to be mostly reissues of recent CDs. Missing some of the Handley and Berglund recordings...

Its too bad they didn't include everything...

I agree with your sentiments - if they're going to make an impressively-endowed box, why hold out on the final few bits? Despite quibbles, it's a must-buy.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 02, 2012, 11:56:44 PM
Have been listening to 'Meditations on a Theme of John Blow' (Handley, CBSO) - a fine work, perhaps Bliss's masterpiece - what do others think is Bliss's finest work?

I recall that one of the CD guides described it as 'aimiable but rambling' but I'm more inclined to agree with Andrew Burn in the booklet note:

Here his spirit is laid bare; here Bliss, a man of supreme compassion, offers a spiritual pilgrimage for the soul of Everyman, of any belief, creed or race; there is no distinction in his philosophy.

Adam Zero, on the same CD is another favourite of mine.  Perhaps the most moving moment in Bliss is the last part of 'Morning Heroes' with the return of the cannon fire over the Somme.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Obradovic on January 14, 2013, 01:32:54 PM
I'm trying to track a recording of the Morning Heroes but only the one by Charles Groves appears in circulation. Why such a paucity? Does anyone know whether is this a good performance or just decent and nothing more? And I'm almost sure no text is included (ref: to the EMI twofer along with Rattle's War Requiem, the only one I can find in the web). Unless a new recording is being processed/scheduled to appear the coming months...
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: snyprrr on August 20, 2013, 05:54:51 AM
general bump
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 20, 2013, 07:44:25 AM
I'm trying to track a recording of the Morning Heroes but only the one by Charles Groves appears in circulation. Why such a paucity? Does anyone know whether is this a good performance or just decent and nothing more? And I'm almost sure no text is included (ref: to the EMI twofer along with Rattle's War Requiem, the only one I can find in the web). Unless a new recording is being processed/scheduled to appear the coming months...

There are at least two other recordings. One on the defunct BBC Radio Classics with former BBC newsreader Richard Baker as the narrator and Charles Groves conducting. Also there is a Cala release, Kibblethwaite/Brian Blessed narrating in a rather melodramatic rendition. I have no doubt that John Westbrook is the best narrator. If you can find the original single CD release that definitely includes the words. Sorry, I never spotted your original post.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Klaze on August 20, 2013, 12:57:45 PM
(I guess its not so relevant anymore but anyway: I can find no serious faults with the Groves recording of Morning Heroes, but have no comparison recordings, and indeed there are no texts included in the twofer with the War Requiem)

I quite liked the Bliss string quartets (got the Griller quartet playing them),  but need to become acquainted with more works, pointers would be welcome.
So far I can't find much to like in the Colour Symphony, and was a little bit dissappointed by the Clarinet Quintet.
On the other hand, i really enjoyed the disc with the Cello Concerto, The Enchantress and Hymn to Apollo...

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 20, 2013, 02:19:39 PM
(I guess its not so relevant anymore but anyway: I can find no serious faults with the Groves recording of Morning Heroes, but have no comparison recordings, and indeed there are no texts included in the twofer with the War Requiem)

I quite liked the Bliss string quartets (got the Griller quartet playing them),  but need to become acquainted with more works, pointers would be welcome.
So far I can't find much to like in the Colour Symphony, and was a little bit dissappointed by the Clarinet Quintet.
On the other hand, i really enjoyed the disc with the Cello Concerto, The Enchantress and Hymn to Apollo...

I wonder if you would like the Oboe Quintet more. I think that it his best chamber work. The version by the Melos Ensemble is unrivalled (it is included in the EMI box).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on August 20, 2013, 02:24:07 PM
I wonder if you would like the Oboe Quintet more. I think that it his best chamber work. The version by the Melos Ensemble is unrivalled (it is included in the EMI box).

Thoroughly agreed! The Oboe Quintet has such haunting lyricism and is a nice contrast to the usual extroverted mood of most of Bliss' orchestral works. The Viola Sonata is also a very fine work, dark and poignant.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Klaze on August 21, 2013, 11:36:37 AM
Thanks folks, will look for those works
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Obradovic on September 09, 2013, 11:03:40 PM
There are at least two other recordings. One on the defunct BBC Radio Classics with former BBC newsreader Richard Baker as the narrator and Charles Groves conducting. Also there is a Cala release, Kibblethwaite/Brian Blessed narrating in a rather melodramatic rendition. I have no doubt that John Westbrook is the best narrator. If you can find the original single CD release that definitely includes the words. Sorry, I never spotted your original post.
Many thanks for your help! Both versions though seem difficult to spot outside UK and I still look forward for a good modern rendition.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 10, 2013, 02:19:29 AM
Many thanks for your help! Both versions though seem difficult to spot outside UK and I still look forward for a good modern rendition.

My pleasure. Hope you find a copy.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on September 10, 2013, 06:03:21 AM
Many thanks for your help! Both versions though seem difficult to spot outside UK and I still look forward for a good modern rendition.
I'd go for Westbrook. I always thought Richard Baker was a bit stodgy. Brian Blessed livened up 'Have I got News for You',but he's too OTT and loud (no pun intended ;D) for Bliss.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Obradovic on September 11, 2013, 04:40:56 AM
I'd go for Westbrook.

But does that EMI twofer (includes the War Requiem too) contain the text? I definitely doubt! It's very cheap though
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Klaze on September 11, 2013, 11:50:13 PM
Nope, no texts.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Obradovic on September 12, 2013, 05:42:35 AM
Nope, no texts.
:(
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: madaboutmahler on December 30, 2013, 08:33:55 AM
My first proper listen to any Bliss and I am reallly enjoying it!



The Colour Symphony is brilliant, and I'm really enjoying the Adam Zero ballet, it's just so lyrical and gorgeous. The melodic inspiration is beyond what I expected I must admit.. Keen to listen to more now, any other Bliss works that can be recommended please? :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on December 30, 2013, 04:04:34 PM
My first proper listen to any Bliss and I am reallly enjoying it!



The Colour Symphony is brilliant, and I'm really enjoying the Adam Zero ballet, it's just so lyrical and gorgeous. The melodic inspiration is beyond what I expected I must admit.. Keen to listen to more now, any other Bliss works that can be recommended please? :)

My suggestions Daniel:

'Morning Heroes' (written in an attempt to come to terms with nightmares of the First World War in which Bliss had served and his brother Kennard had been killed).

Meditations on a Theme by Jon Blow.

Checkmate

Oboe Quintet (lovely work)

Music for Strings

Miracle in the Gorbals

Metamorphic Variations

Piano Concerto.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: madaboutmahler on December 31, 2013, 05:58:36 AM
Thank you very much, Jeffrey, will take a listen to those and will feedback. Happy New Year! :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: John Whitmore on March 04, 2015, 02:29:33 AM
Having played under Bliss as a teenager (lucky boy) I'm a huge fan of his music. Checkmate is just about the most exciting,atmospheric piece imaginable. His Piano Concerto is well worth getting to know but it's the Introduction and Allegro that does it for me. Here it is, in 2 parts, under Sir Arthur's direction on Argo. Wonderful work.
http://youtu.be/PR8TGyyyoZo
http://youtu.be/9YG15HZYYU4
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 04, 2015, 09:35:05 AM
Having played under Bliss as a teenager (lucky boy) I'm a huge fan of his music. Checkmate is just about the most exciting,atmospheric piece imaginable. His Piano Concerto is well worth getting to know but it's the Introduction and Allegro that does it for me. Here it is, in 2 parts, under Sir Arthur's direction on Argo. Wonderful work.
http://youtu.be/PR8TGyyyoZo
http://youtu.be/9YG15HZYYU4

How interesting! What was Bliss like to work with? He seems to be a rather genial character. My uncle met him through his work at the Performing Rights Society. He asked for Bliss's autograph when they were standing alongside each other using a urinal: 'Just as soon as I get my hands free old boy!' was Bliss's reply. 8)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Mirror Image on March 04, 2015, 10:37:08 AM
How interesting! What was Bliss like to work with? He seems to be a rather genial character. My uncle met him through his work at the Performing Rights Society. He asked for Bliss's autograph when they were standing alongside each other using a urinal: 'Just as soon as I get my hands free old boy!' was Bliss's reply. 8)

Ha! That's a great anecdote, Jeffrey. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 04, 2015, 10:13:05 PM
Ha! That's a great anecdote, Jeffrey. Thanks for sharing.

 :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: John Whitmore on March 05, 2015, 10:01:38 AM
How interesting! What was Bliss like to work with? He seems to be a rather genial character. My uncle met him through his work at the Performing Rights Society. He asked for Bliss's autograph when they were standing alongside each other using a urinal: 'Just as soon as I get my hands free old boy!' was Bliss's reply. 8)
Bliss was wonderful.Very professional, no nonsense, supportive, a real gentleman. Clear beat and understood the orchestra inside out. We (i.e.the LSSO) did his piano concerto with Frank Wibaut as soloist at the 1970 Cheltenham Festival (does anyone have a tape off the radio? I lost mine). Bliss was the conductor and Tippett did the rest of the programme. We then went into the studio later that year to record the Intro and Allegro. One take and a few patches. Like shelling peas. He died just as the LSSO was rehearsing for the Haymarket ballet production of Lady of Shallot. Lady Bliss attended. It's on Youtube called Girl in a Broken Mirror. I've also got a couple of letters from her that shh sent to me in 1999.Happy times.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 05, 2015, 10:29:01 AM
Bliss was wonderful.Very professional, no nonsense, supportive, a real gentleman. Clear beat and understood the orchestra inside out. We (i.e.the LSSO) did his piano concerto with Frank Wibaut as soloist at the 1970 Cheltenham Festival (does anyone have a tape off the radio? I lost mine). Bliss was the conductor and Tippett did the rest of the programme. We then went into the studio later that year to record the Intro and Allegro. One take and a few patches. Like shelling peas. He died just as the LSSO was rehearsing for the Haymarket ballet production of Lady of Shallot. Lady Bliss attended. It's on Youtube called Girl in a Broken Mirror. I've also got a couple of letters from her that shh sent to me in 1999.Happy times.

Many thanks for sharing this interesting insight into Bliss. Your description of him fits what I had imagined. I enjoyed his autobiography 'As I remember' and I like the underrated Piano Concerto very much as well as the short Concerto for Two Pianos. He was the visiting composer attached to Lancaster University when I studied there in the 1970s. Sadly I never met him but I wrote his obituary for the university magazine.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: John Whitmore on March 05, 2015, 10:41:02 AM
Many thanks for sharing this interesting insight into Bliss. Your description of him fits what I had imagined. I enjoyed his autobiography 'As I remember' and I like the underrated Piano Concerto very much as well as the short Concerto for Two Pianos. He was the visiting composer attached to Lancaster University when I studied there in the 1970s. Sadly I never met him but I wrote his obituary for the university magazine.
Depending on which edition you have of As I Remember there is a section in there talking about his work with the LSSO. He was  a friend of Tippett, our patron and regular conductor, and Michael introduced Sir Arthur to us because of that connection, hence the Cheltenham concert and the Argo record. Much more interesting stuff than the Havergal Brian projects the orchestra got sucked into but that's another story.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 05, 2015, 11:55:56 AM
Depending on which edition you have of As I Remember there is a section in there talking about his work with the LSSO. He was  a friend of Tippett, our patron and regular conductor, and Michael introduced Sir Arthur to us because of that connection, hence the Cheltenham concert and the Argo record. Much more interesting stuff than the Havergal Brian projects the orchestra got sucked into but that's another story.

Many thanks again for your interesting reminiscences.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 01, 2015, 10:16:04 AM
Released later this month. Bliss's masterpiece I think:

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on September 07, 2015, 12:16:06 AM
I've been enjoying some Bliss this week! ;D I especially enjoyed my newly acquired s'h emi cd of his "Pastoral: Lie strewn the white flocks','A knot of Riddles' and 'Music for Strings'. The vocal works conducted by a fellow countryman,Wyn Morris,who was once dubbed "the Welsh Furtwangler". His career ruined by his foul temper and argumentative nature. I have some of his recordings of the Beethoven symphonies and I find them very satisfying. Unsurprising that his best readings are of the more blustery symphonies. His Mahler Fifth is a fantastic,searing interpretation,to my ears. (The s/h cd,covered in scratches and scuffs,plays perfectly!! ???) I think he's a bit underrated. On the downside,he recorded that Copland piece with a well known erstwhile Prime Minister;but I mustn't get into politics here!!
Back to Bliss. I thought the aforementioned choral work 'Pastoral' was a lovely piece of music. I was new to that work and I think it is absolutely gorgeous. I would like to acquire that Chandos Bliss 'twofer' before long and hear it in their sumptuous sound. I also have the same work on the Hyperion Helios label,but the cd makes a loud ticking noise in my cd player and I had to make a cd-r!! The only other recording I have in my collection that exhibits this problem is a 2cd DG set of Berlioz's 'Damnation of Faust' conducted by Markevitch. Has anyone else here experienced this problem? I have a theory that the hole is ever so slightly off-centre?!!
I have also enjoyed the fantastic Hyperion cd of 'Rout','Rhapsody',Conversations','Madam Noy','The Women of Yueh' and 'Quintet'. A superb cd of fascinating,inventive,quirky music. All underrated,I think! I also enjoyed the Nimbus cd of his 'Colour Symphony';and am I really alone in liking his 'Metamorphic Variations'?!! I find some of the scoring in this work quite magical.
Other Bliss enjoyed...........the ASV recording of the 'complete' Checkmate ballet,and Bliss's own recordings of the suite from 'Checkmate' and the 'introduction and Allegro'. Old recordings,but still fantastic to listen to. I went through a period of wondering whether some of his music was a trifle bland.but find his spicy,alluring harmonies and sound world growing on me! I like allot of Britten's music,but Bliss,at his best, doesn't deserve to play second fiddle. Interestingly his music seems to attract more posts at this forum.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 07, 2015, 10:46:00 AM
The 'Pastoral' is a fine lyrical work. It features in the fine boxed set below. Bliss may not be in the front rank of British composers but I listen to his music more than composers like Britten or Elgar. I especially like the Oboe Quintet.


One of my first encounters with his music was on a 'HMV Concert Classics' LP with 'Checkmate' conducted by the composer. Heritage have recently reissued this on CD with the fine 'Things to Come' film music. Bliss has been done no favours by the damned-with-feint-praise suggestion that the March from Things to Come was the most memorable thing he wrote.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scion7 on November 02, 2015, 07:57:40 PM
His Sonata for Viola and Piano [Op.52] from 1933 is a stupendous piece of chamber music writing.

Strongly recommended:  (http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0001/098/MI0001098616.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss - Quintet for Piano / Piano Quintet (1919)
Post by: Scion7 on November 04, 2015, 12:02:28 AM
This appears to be an un-recorded work.  I can find little information about it - its composition date is listed as 1919 and it has an assigned opus number of 22.
I cannot find a commercial offering of the score.
This notice of a performance of the piece in the 20th century from Musical America, Volume 31, dated Dec 27, 1919:

" The Philharmonic String Quartet from London has just given the conspicuous success in the Salle Gaveau a concert of exclusively British compositions. Quartets by Elgar and Cyril Scott were heard and a very interesting Piano Quintet by Arthur Bliss, which, although still in manuscript, will doubtless be widely played. "

The Cambridge University Library lists it as unpublished.  I hope the MS has not been lost.   :-[


Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on March 14, 2016, 02:32:29 AM
am I really alone in liking his 'Metamorphic Variations'?!! I find some of the scoring in this work quite magical.

No. You aren't.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 14, 2016, 09:08:53 AM
No. You aren't.
+1 😀
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 30, 2016, 10:54:01 PM
It is interesting that a work can remain in your collection for ages (decades in my case) and you hardly give it any attention and then, all of a sudden, you realise how good it is. Such is the case with Bliss's 'Hymn to Apollo' (1926). It is only a short work (11 mins) but I find it very powerful and ultimately moving. In the booklet notes for the recent Chandos release of 'Morning Heroes' which includes 'Hymn to Apollo' as a welcome bonus, Andrew Burn makes the interesting and I think quite convincing point that the work is not just a thank you to Pierre Monteux who had introduced 'A Colour Symphony' to New York but also an invocation to Apollo as the God of Healing as Bliss was struggling to come to terms with the loss of his beloved brother Kennard in the First World War a few years earlier. I have three recordings ( ::)) by Andrew Davis, Vernon Handley and Bliss himself - they are all good.
Here is the work:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_y9iDOFbBdE

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scion7 on April 30, 2016, 11:57:18 PM
I have that too (digital download.)

Haven't heard the original version:

Here we are given a coupling, and a substantial one too: the first ever recording of the original version of Bliss’s Hymn to Apollo, another work written in the aftermath of the First World War and sharing many of the same concerns as Morning Heroes. The revisions which Bliss made some forty years later were not major — a cut of twenty-one bars, and some reduction of the orchestration ...
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scion7 on August 22, 2016, 04:18:24 PM
The Piano Concerto performance here - even tho' it's a bit old and a mono recording, Mewton-Wood and company have such empathy and passion that this is the one to have above others.  Some critics have been somewhat dismissive of this concerto - bah!  Fine piece of music!

(https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-f4d5HS62ioY/V7hkg9xLyQI/AAAAAAAAH8c/Y3AdDANbtbQFDvkE0pmw4a9WRV7q6J7RQCLcB/s320/CLP%2B1167%2B%2BMewton-Wood.jpg)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
These are not bad:

(https://img.discogs.com/UiiDWDFCfj2zc-oOCTDG2ybiorE=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-5109184-1384729344-1642.jpeg.jpg)

(http://s9.postimg.org/u9grwsvwf/Front_1962_LP.jpg)

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 22, 2016, 10:12:06 PM
The Piano Concerto performance here - even tho' it's a bit old and a mono recording, Mewton-Wood and company have such empathy and passion that this is the one to have above others.  Some critics have been somewhat dismissive of this concerto - bah!  Fine piece of music!

(https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-f4d5HS62ioY/V7hkg9xLyQI/AAAAAAAAH8c/Y3AdDANbtbQFDvkE0pmw4a9WRV7q6J7RQCLcB/s320/CLP%2B1167%2B%2BMewton-Wood.jpg)
Great sleeve designs. I have the Unicorn LP somewhere.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
These are not bad:

(https://img.discogs.com/UiiDWDFCfj2zc-oOCTDG2ybiorE=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-5109184-1384729344-1642.jpeg.jpg)

(http://s9.postimg.org/u9grwsvwf/Front_1962_LP.jpg)
Great images of these covers. I have the Unicorn LP which was a fine performance. Its CD release included Bliss's 'March of Hommage' an In Memoriam for Winston Churchill which I like.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: DaveF on August 23, 2016, 09:29:56 AM



Copy ordered on that recommendation.  It also includes the only piece of Bliss I know at all well, the Clarinet Quintet, which I used to try to play in my trying-to-play-the-clarinet days, so looking forward to that too.  And nothing to do with the quality of his music, but it seems that everyone who knew Bliss pays tribute to a thoroughly honourable, decent and fine human being - not many of them in the ranks of the great composers  :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 23, 2016, 10:15:26 AM
Copy ordered on that recommendation.  It also includes the only piece of Bliss I know at all well, the Clarinet Quintet, which I used to try to play in my trying-to-play-the-clarinet days, so looking forward to that too.  And nothing to do with the quality of his music, but it seems that everyone who knew Bliss pays tribute to a thoroughly honourable, decent and fine human being - not many of them in the ranks of the great composers  :)
I don't think that he was a great composer but he is one whose music I often return to. Hope you like the CD.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on August 26, 2016, 01:10:25 AM
Great with a small g perhaps?!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scion7 on August 26, 2016, 02:34:03 AM
We have a number or English, or British, composers that make fine listening but are 2nd tier below, say, Mozart and the like.  But life would be far duller without Bowen, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Bliss, Elgar, Alwyn, Arnold, Rawsthorne, Berkeley, Simpson, Walton, Stanford  . . . . . . .

UPDATE:  I left off Bridge!  Arrrgh!

UPDATE2: and Bate! ack!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on August 26, 2016, 05:29:25 AM
We have a number or English, or British, composers that make fine listening but are 2nd tier below, say, Mozart and the like.  But life would be far duller without Bowen, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Bliss, Elgar, Alwyn, Arnold, Rawsthorne, Berkeley, Simpson, Walton, Stanford  . . . . . . .
For me, and no doubt for many here, there's no sense in talking about "first rate" composers like Mozart en considering all these composers "second rate" in comparison to that imaginary standard.

To be honest, for me it's rather the other way around: composers like Vaughan Williams are definitely first rate and Mozart is often a bit mwehh (not my cup of tea). However, what I really want to suggest, is that the classification makes no sense: many of these composers are absolutely fine and a class of their own. If others warm with a similar warmness to Mozart or Schubert or any other unique composer, that's just great and no reason for contempt at all. Composing is no Olympic sport and there's no competition with measurable results.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scion7 on August 26, 2016, 05:37:43 AM
and no reason for contempt at all. Composing is no Olympic sport and there's no competition with measurable results.

"2nd tier" is not the same thing as "second rate" - and as stated, there was no "contempt" at all in my post - quite the opposite.
And critically, musicologists have to separate the wheat from the chaff - (as in Stockhausen - bleh.)
But they also must divide out the Beethovens from the Coplands ... with no put-down of the latter type artists, just that they are not as brilliantly creative and important as 1st tier composers.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 26, 2016, 06:43:46 AM
For me, and no doubt for many here, there's no sense in talking about "first rate" composers like Mozart en considering all these composers "second rate" in comparison to that imaginary standard.

To be honest, for me it's rather the other way around: composers like Vaughan Williams are definitely first rate and Mozart is often a bit mwehh (not my cup of tea). However, what I really want to suggest, is that the classification makes no sense: many of these composers are absolutely fine and a class of their own. If others warm with a similar warmness to Mozart or Schubert or any other unique composer, that's just great and no reason for contempt at all. Composing is no Olympic sport and there's no competition with measurable results.
Just because the GB women's hockey team defeated the Netherlands for the Olympic Gold Medal there's no need to take it so personally. 8) I very much agree with your comments above however. VW and the others offers me a glimpse through the 'magic casements' which Mozart et al, for all their greatness, do not.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 26, 2016, 06:46:40 AM
We have a number or English, or British, composers that make fine listening but are 2nd tier below, say, Mozart and the like.  But life would be far duller without Bowen, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Bliss, Elgar, Alwyn, Arnold, Rawsthorne, Berkeley, Simpson, Walton, Stanford  . . . . . . .
I very much agree with you apart from the inclusion of York Bowen whose music I find totally unmemorable. I would include Moeran instead.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Scion7 on August 26, 2016, 07:31:18 AM
 :(

Poor York.
Please give his chamber pieces another chance.
He's not a "great" composer but I like his stuff.
He was much loved by other composers of his generation!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 26, 2016, 08:02:47 AM
:(

Poor York.
Please give his chamber pieces another chance.
He's not a "great" composer but I like his stuff.
He was much loved by other composers of his generation!
Any particular recommendation?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: DaveF on August 26, 2016, 10:21:50 AM
I don't think that he was a great composer but he is one whose music I often return to. Hope you like the CD.

Since I appear to have started this discussion by making myself insufficiently clear, and also by an incautious use of the "G" word, what I meant to say was that Bliss was universally acclaimed as a thoroughly excellent chap, in (refreshing) contrast to many of the "great" composers (Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, Brahms, Wagner) whose personalities seem to have consisted entirely of disorders.  Hope that clears everything up - although I suspect it won't...

Hope my CD arrives tomorrow, too, otherwise Tuesday will be the earliest possible.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Parsifal on August 26, 2016, 10:52:11 AM
Copy ordered on that recommendation.  It also includes the only piece of Bliss I know at all well, the Clarinet Quintet, which I used to try to play in my trying-to-play-the-clarinet days, so looking forward to that too.  And nothing to do with the quality of his music, but it seems that everyone who knew Bliss pays tribute to a thoroughly honourable, decent and fine human being - not many of them in the ranks of the great composers  :)

A very fine release. I remember being particularly impressed with Checkmate (ballet music).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: DaveF on August 30, 2016, 01:04:23 AM



Arrived and listened to - quite agree about Hymn to Apollo, which succeeds in being elegiac and menacing at the same time.  The quintet perhaps lacks some of the fizz of the old Melos Ensemble recording (can't verify that as the Melos is nla), although the first movement is much closer to its Moderato marking in Hilton's performance.  Bliss was older than I realised, so that anything that sounds Walton-influenced probably actually reflects his own influence on the younger generation.  Must try to hear some of those early works that briefly got him the reputation of enfant terrible.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 30, 2016, 07:09:51 AM
Arrived and listened to - quite agree about Hymn to Apollo, which succeeds in being elegiac and menacing at the same time.  The quintet perhaps lacks some of the fizz of the old Melos Ensemble recording (can't verify that as the Melos is nla), although the first movement is much closer to its Moderato marking in Hilton's performance.  Bliss was older than I realised, so that anything that sounds Walton-influenced probably actually reflects his own influence on the younger generation.  Must try to hear some of those early works that briefly got him the reputation of enfant terrible.
Very pleased you liked the Hymn to Apollo - there is a recent recording of the slightly different original version coupled with Morning Heroes on Chandos. Both versions are fine. The booklet note in the Chandos recording is interesting about the Hymn, linking it with Bliss's brother's death in the First World War.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Maestro267 on May 11, 2017, 06:23:15 AM
Picked up a recording of Bliss' Piano Concerto, cw the Sonata and 2-piano Concerto (Donohoe/RSNO/Lloyd-Jones). It's my first time hearing the Concerto. What an epic first movement! To me, it sounds like a combination of the big-boned drama of the great Romantic concertos, with the syncopation and modern touch of jazz. A truly 20th-century take on the large-scale Romantic piano concerto.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on May 11, 2017, 06:51:03 AM
Picked up a recording of Bliss' Piano Concerto, cw the Sonata and 2-piano Concerto (Donohoe/RSNO/Lloyd-Jones). It's my first time hearing the Concerto. What an epic first movement! To me, it sounds like a combination of the big-boned drama of the great Romantic concertos, with the syncopation and modern touch of jazz. A truly 20th-century take on the large-scale Romantic piano concerto.
The climax of the first movement is one of my favourite moments in Bliss's music. Yes, it is a very fine work. You've made me want to listen to it later today. My favourite of his chamber works is the eloquent Oboe Quintet.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on May 11, 2017, 06:57:57 AM
I like this collection,very much. Excellent performances and selection,to my ears! My cd doesn't have that sticker on it,by the way! ::) ;D

(http://i.imgur.com/XPtjkBR.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on May 11, 2017, 07:05:29 AM
I like this collection,very much. Excellent performances and selection,to my ears! My cd doesn't have that sticker on it,by the way! ::) ;D

(http://i.imgur.com/XPtjkBR.jpg)
I'd be very interested to hear that version of the Oboe Quintet - one of my favourite works by Sir Arthur.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on May 11, 2017, 09:55:00 AM
I'd be very interested to hear that version of the Oboe Quintet - one of my favourite works by Sir Arthur.
I like everything on the cd;including Rout,Madam Noy and the Women of Yueh. And I usually don't like chamber pieces with people (sopranos,in this case) warbling away. Very inventive,quirky,witty,imaginative music. An utterly excellent cd,imho The sort of cd that makes me think Bliss really does deserve allot better than he gets. Bliss at his best.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Maestro267 on January 23, 2018, 12:07:33 PM
Just found out about this new release coming in February, a brand new recording of one of Bliss' major choral works, The Beatitudes, by the BBC SO under Sir Andrew Davis.

https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%205191 (https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%205191)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 24, 2018, 12:07:23 AM
Just found out about this new release coming in February, a brand new recording of one of Bliss' major choral works, The Beatitudes, by the BBC SO under Sir Andrew Davis.

https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%205191 (https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%205191)

I noted that with interest as well. Having said that the recording of the work on Dutton (first performance I think) did not make much impression on me. However the new recording may help me to appreciate the work. There is a recording on Lyrita as well. Coincidentally yesterday I listened to an excellent EMI CD (Vernon Handley) featuring the fine 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow' - a powerful and moving work, underrated like much of Bliss ('amiable but rambling' according to the Stereo Record Guide). The CD also featured 'Adam Zero' (Suite) and 'Checkmate' (Suite) including the very atmospheric 'Prologue' often left out in other recordings.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: tjguitar on February 03, 2018, 12:38:20 PM
Just found out about this new release coming in February, a brand new recording of one of Bliss' major choral works, The Beatitudes, by the BBC SO under Sir Andrew Davis.

https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%205191 (https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%205191)

There is a free stream of this work for the next few weeks. Very well could be the recording from the upcoming album:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pm25x
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on February 04, 2018, 12:40:53 AM
There is a free stream of this work for the next few weeks. Very well could be the recording from the upcoming album:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pm25x

They played the new recording of 'The Beatitudes' through on BBC Radio 3 yesterday. I like the music of Bliss very much and it gives me no pleasure to say that I found it so dreary that I eventually switched off. I'm not surprised that they replaced it with Britten's 'War Requiem' for the opening of the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral. As a rule I listen to much more of the music of Bliss than Britten so must try again with 'The Beatitudes' although I shall not be rushing out to buy the new Andrew Davis recording.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Maestro267 on September 19, 2018, 06:36:55 AM
Today I ordered the Queensland SO recording of Miracle in the Gorbals (complete), Discourse for Orchestra (man, I love that title!) and Music from "Things to Come".

I've been buying a lot of Bliss' music lately, including the John Blow Meditations, Metamorphic Variations, and Checkmate (again complete).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on September 19, 2018, 06:55:37 AM
Today I ordered the Queensland SO recording of Miracle in the Gorbals (complete),

It often saddens me that not just Bliss' ballets but so many of his contemporaries too have fallen out of the repertoire of ballet companies.  The music to "Miracle in the Gorbals" is a wonderful combination of bleak, atmospheric and upbeat.  Of course the value of the disc you have just bought is its completeness but as a performance I do prefer the old EMI/Berglund/Bournemouth performance of the Suite right down to the haunting foghorn at its climax.  I'd love to see this work staged as well as Adam Zero which seems to have an interesting storyline.  I'd love to see RVW's Job too.

The Beatitudes does not grab my like Morning Heroes but it is growing on me.  The new recording is not helped by an overly discrete organ.  Not a problem for the 45th President I think.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 19, 2018, 11:02:58 AM
I think that Bliss is rather underrated. He may not be quite up there with VW etc but I often return to his music. I've recently been enjoying the 'Hymn to Apollo' which may have links to Bliss's plea for healing after the death of his much-loved brother in the First World War. The 'Meditations on a Theme of John Blow' is much more than just 'aimiable but rambling' as the old Penguin Record Guide suggested (they did Bliss no favours by suggesting that the March from 'Things to Come' was the most memorable thing that Bliss composed). I like both of his piano concertos as well as Miracle in the Gorbals and Adam Zero. I haven't yet got on with the Beatitudes but only have the old version on Dutton. The Lyrita CD with Hugo Rignold conducting the Blow Meditations is a very fine disc and my favourite version of that work. Yes, that Berglund version of Miracle in the Gorbals, originally coupled on LP with the Cello Concerto is terrific. In the Berglund boxed set it features alongside Berglund's powerful and sibelian recording of Vaughan Williams's 6th Symphony.

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Klaze on September 19, 2018, 11:53:06 AM
I feel he's rated well enough given the amount of recordings there are and given all the extraordinary music composed by his contemporaries, but I'm happy for Bliss fans that they can rejoice about new releases. I have to say I've sold off most of the Bliss stuff I collected during my exploration of British composers. I thought it was mostly fine music but I personally found it ultimately quite forgettable :/

The Bliss I kept and still enjoy ocassionally: Morning Heroes, String Quartets and a nice disc with the Cello Concerto, Hymn to Apollo and the Enchantress.

I appreciate that he also seems to have had a realistic view of his own place in history; 

Quote
On receiving the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1963, he [Bliss] said, "I don't claim to have done more than light a small taper at the shrine of music. I do not upbraid Fate for not having given me greater gifts. Endeavour has been the joy".
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 19, 2018, 08:59:24 PM
I feel he's rated well enough given the amount of recordings there are and given all the extraordinary music composed by his contemporaries, but I'm happy for Bliss fans that they can rejoice about new releases. I have to say I've sold off most of the Bliss stuff I collected during my exploration of British composers. I thought it was mostly fine music but I personally found it ultimately quite forgettable :/

The Bliss I kept and still enjoy ocassionally: Morning Heroes, String Quartets and a nice disc with the Cello Concerto, Hymn to Apollo and the Enchantress.

I appreciate that he also seems to have had a realistic view of his own place in history;
I forgot to mention Morning Heroes, possibly his masterpiece. I think that Bliss was an endearing person by all accounts. I do find some of his works memorable, including the ones I mentioned above and also the fine Oboe Quintet.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on September 21, 2018, 08:57:35 AM
If you find them memorable,you find them memorable! What can you do? Forget them?! But you can't ,because you find them memorable! ::) ;D
I like the works on that Hyperion cd (see earlier post). One of my favourite Bliss cd's,and possibly my favourite. Rout,The Women of Yueh,Conversations,Rhapsody and the Oboe Quintet,are fine works;and strike me as Bliss at around his best. The Nash Ensemble give fine performances. A superb cd. I like his ballet music best in the form of suites. I enjoyed the Nightclub music from his Adam Zero ballet,which I hadn't heard before,and was dismayed that it was not included on the emi cd (with Meditations). They left out one of the best bits?!!! ??? ::) Pastoral 'Lie strewn the white flocks' is a rather nice work;and I did like the Meditation on a Theme by John Blow,which I hadn't heard before. I have the emi recording. Miracle in the Gorbals has some atmospheric music. My favourite bit is the Dance of Deliverance. Constant Lambert's recording is ancient,but very good. I also enjoy the Colour Symphony,now and again. I think the climax,in the finale,with all that percussion,is rather thrilling. I'm quite happy with the performance on Nimbus,which is the first one I ever heard. Bliss' own recordings are well worth hearing. He's not one of my favourite British composer's;but I think there is allot to enjoy.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: SymphonicAddict on September 21, 2018, 08:56:58 PM
Now I see the Bliss thread, it prompted to listen to A Colour Symphony again after a significant period of time. Perhaps I'm going to exaggerate a bit by saying this is one of the best British symphonies (along with those by VW, Walton, Arnold, Elgar, et al), possibly other will disagree. At first I hadn't appreciated the overwhelming lyricism of the Green and Blue movements, there is a special magic that moves me. Because of things like this is that one perceives the listens enhance your perception of works, or at least they refresh your memory by bringing new details you hadn't perceived in previous times. The same happened to the Walton's Symphony No. 2: its rediscovery made me admire it MUCH MUCH more now.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on September 21, 2018, 09:02:21 PM
Overrated, Underrated, I have no way of knowing how he is "rated." I enjoy a lot of his music. I'd like to hear more.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on September 21, 2018, 09:33:05 PM
Now I see the Bliss thread, it prompted to listen to A Colour Symphony again after a significant period of time. Perhaps I'm going to exaggerate a bit by saying this is one of the best British symphonies (along with those by VW, Walton, Arnold, Elgar, et al), possibly other will disagree. At first I hadn't appreciated the overwhelming lyricism of the Green and Blue movements, there is a special magic that moves me.
Totally agree, especially its overwhelming lyricism is one of those rare moments in music where 'thy cup overfloweth'. Was happy enough to discover A Colour Symphony - echoing the titles of A London and A Pastoral, I guess - during my teens and loved it ever since. So far, surprisingly it's Barry Wordsworth with the BBC Welsh SO that I love most.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on September 21, 2018, 09:36:08 PM
I agree about the Colour Symphony.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 22, 2018, 01:59:05 AM
I agree about the Colour Symphony.
+1 and I'm tempted to listen to it again following all the enthusiasm here (I was interested to read that Ruth Gipps's 4th Symphony is dedicated to Bliss). I like the Groves recording of 'A Colour Symphony' but also Bliss's own and following Christo's comments need to revisit Wordsworth's recording.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on September 22, 2018, 02:14:01 AM
I like Groves' "Colour Symphony" very much - classic EMI analogue with the RPO in great form.  I like Wordsworth too but I would put Handley/Ulster ahead of him.  But to be fair I don't think there is a poor performance out there.  Lloyd-Jones is fine, Hickox I know but not as well as the others - for some reason it did not grab me quite as much as the others.  The old Bliss/LSO version suffers from simply not being in the same sonic league as the others and this is a rich and detailed score that needs to allow detail to register.

As a composer I think Bliss is under-rated.  He is a composer whose scores I collect of and it never fails to impress me just how well crafted they are when you look at them on the page.  The harmonic language he uses is more sophisticated than some might immediately think.  Technically he is hard to play well too.  From his autobiography it is clear he saw himself in quite self-effacing terms - definitely a 90% perspiration/10%inspiration kind of guy.  He had a very strict personal routine of trying to write a fixed number of bars of music every day, even if he came back to them the next day and threw them away.  Worth remembering all his important work at the BBC as an administrator.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 22, 2018, 02:40:12 AM
I like Groves' "Colour Symphony" very much - classic EMI analogue with the RPO in great form.  I like Wordsworth too but I would put Handley/Ulster ahead of him.  But to be fair I don't think there is a poor performance out there.  Lloyd-Jones is fine, Hickox I know but not as well as the others - for some reason it did not grab me quite as much as the others.  The old Bliss/LSO version suffers from simply not being in the same sonic league as the others and this is a rich and detailed score that needs to allow detail to register.

As a composer I think Bliss is under-rated.  He is a composer whose scores I collect of and it never fails to impress me just how well crafted they are when you look at them on the page.  The harmonic language he uses is more sophisticated than some might immediately think.  Technically he is hard to play well too.  From his autobiography it is clear he saw himself in quite self-effacing terms - definitely a 90% perspiration/10%inspiration kind of guy.  He had a very strict personal routine of trying to write a fixed number of bars of music every day, even if he came back to them the next day and threw them away.  Worth remembering all his important work at the BBC as an administrator.
Interesting and I agree (although I can't read music). I  may have mentioned before that my uncle worked for the Performing Right's Society when Bliss was their President. One day he found himself next to Sir Arthur in the urinal and asked Bliss if he could have his autograph, to which Bliss responded 'as soon as I get my hands free old boy'.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on September 22, 2018, 04:49:27 AM
I like Groves' "Colour Symphony" very much - classic EMI analogue with the RPO in great form.  I like Wordsworth too but I would put Handley/Ulster ahead of him.  But to be fair I don't think there is a poor performance out there.  Lloyd-Jones is fine, Hickox I know but not as well as the others - for some reason it did not grab me quite as much as the others.  The old Bliss/LSO version suffers from simply not being in the same sonic league as the others and this is a rich and detailed score that needs to allow detail to register.

As a composer I think Bliss is under-rated.  He is a composer whose scores I collect of and it never fails to impress me just how well crafted they are when you look at them on the page.  The harmonic language he uses is more sophisticated than some might immediately think.  Technically he is hard to play well too.  From his autobiography it is clear he saw himself in quite self-effacing terms - definitely a 90% perspiration/10%inspiration kind of guy.  He had a very strict personal routine of trying to write a fixed number of bars of music every day, even if he came back to them the next day and threw them away.  Worth remembering all his important work at the BBC as an administrator.

I've never heard the Colour Symphony so I will check it out.  Your description is intriguing. 
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on September 22, 2018, 07:18:15 AM
I like the Colour Symphony quite a lot but, to my ears, the later Meditations on a Theme of John Blow is an even finer work which conveys great emotional poignancy, beauty, and even contains some darkly disturbing passages (especially the section entitled Through the valley of the shadow of death).
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 22, 2018, 07:27:16 AM
I like the Colour Symphony quite a lot but, to my ears, the later Meditations on a Theme of John Blow is an even finer work which conveys great emotional poignancy, beauty, and even contains some darkly disturbing passages (especially the section entitled Through the valley of the shadow of death).

I like both works but, on reflection, I'm inclined to agree with you Kyle that the Meditations on a Theme of Blow has more depth to it. A Colour Symphony is immensely enjoyable though and stirring.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on September 24, 2018, 03:24:42 AM
I like the Colour Symphony quite a lot but, to my ears, the later Meditations on a Theme of John Blow is an even finer work which conveys great emotional poignancy, beauty, and even contains some darkly disturbing passages (especially the section entitled Through the valley of the shadow of death).
I'm afraid - nu, quite sure - that both Jeffrey and I regard these Meditations as the other contender - especially for this section, in my case.  :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Maestro267 on September 24, 2018, 04:29:11 AM
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Meditations the few times I've listened to them.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: pjme on January 04, 2019, 12:46:59 AM
After reading this (recent) remark by Mandryka

Anyway thanks to you I had an idea for Karl, I think he should write a setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s God’s Grandeur . It’s crying out to be set to music and as far as I know no one’s done it yet.

I did some research. The results were quite rewarding.!

https://www.youtube.com/v/N9C61nyJTeo
https://www.youtube.com/v/LJcT6a6aIDE

and Samuel Barber:

https://www.youtube.com/v/8yIRxpVcbzA

Benjamin Britten

https://www.youtube.com/v/zCoa728Mw5A

However, my favorite version could well be Kenneth Leighton's setting:

https://www.youtube.com/v/aJGLBTbFnRs

Anyway - I must listen (and read) again. Another version (Karl's !?) would surely be welcome.







Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 04, 2019, 02:20:56 AM
I'm afraid - nu, quite sure - that both Jeffrey and I regard these Meditations as the other contender - especially for this section, in my case.  :)
I think that the Meditations along with Morning Heoes are Bliss's finest works, although I like much of his music, not least the lovely Oboe Quintet, Adam Zero, Miracle in the Gorbals and the Colour Symphony and both piano concertos.
He has been damned with feint praise often; for example the Meditations described as 'amiable but rambling' and his most memorable work as the March from 'Things to Come', which is, IMHO, rubbish.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on January 05, 2019, 03:44:51 AM
I must admit,I've never been very impressed by that film score! It sounds as if it should be great;but I usually end up turning it off! :( By the way,is the film worth watching? I'm sure it had an airing on BBC2,when I was a youngster;and it didn't make much impression ("No bug eyed monsters?!" ::) ;D). Perhaps I was too young?!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 05, 2019, 05:17:41 AM
I must admit,I've never been very impressed by that film score! It sounds as if it should be great;but I usually end up turning it off! :( By the way,is the film worth watching? I'm sure it had an airing on BBC2,when I was a youngster;and it didn't make much impression ("No bug eyed monsters?!" ::) ;D). Perhaps I was too young?!
Can't remember seeing it right through (certainly not at the cinema - I'm not that old  8)) but clips from history documentaries look interesting. Isn't the scenes of cities laid waste by bombing from the air considered to be one of the many factors which encouraged the British policy of Appeasement towards Nazi Germany in the 1930s. I like the music, especially the ominous sound of 'Machines' foolishly left out of some of the film suite arrangements, although Bliss himself included it.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on January 05, 2019, 05:35:20 AM
Some people seem to rate the film highly. Maybe,I'll buy the dvd,one day? But I must resist!!! ::) ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: cilgwyn on January 05, 2019, 05:46:17 AM
A customer review of some of the audio,on the  Network dvd of the movie,gives me a convenient reason to avoid making another dent in my bank account! Describing some of it as (sounding like it is) "being relayed through a warbling frog that's simultaneously being gargled by a flatulent bulldog!"  ??? ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 05, 2019, 05:54:52 AM
I like the music, especially the ominous sound of 'Machines' foolishly left out of some of the film suite arrangements, although Bliss himself included it.

I think "Things to Come" is possibly (almost certainly!) the first great British film score.  Including the March which you're not so keen on.  The reason I like it is apart from being an honest-to-goodness good tune is that the surprisingly dissonant harmony gives it an underlying sense of ill-ease which the more superficial swagger can blur.  Also the end of the Suite with the epic modulation into a "happy ever after" ending including full organ is about as cinematic as it comes.  Wonderfully captured by Charles Groves and the RPO on their recording originally coupled with an excellent version of the Colour Symphony.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 05, 2019, 06:18:39 AM
I think "Things to Come" is possibly (almost certainly!) the first great British film score.  Including the March which you're not so keen on.  The reason I like it is apart from being an honest-to-goodness good tune is that the surprisingly dissonant harmony gives it an underlying sense of ill-ease which the more superficial swagger can blur.  Also the end of the Suite with the epic modulation into a "happy ever after" ending including full organ is about as cinematic as it comes.  Wonderfully captured by Charles Groves and the RPO on their recording originally coupled with an excellent version of the Colour Symphony.
I don't dislike the March but only the suggestion (repeated ad nauseum in the Penguin Record Guide) that it is the 'most memorable' thing that Bliss ever wrote. I agree with you about Groves although he is one of those who misses out 'Machines' in the Suite  >:(
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Maestro267 on January 05, 2019, 10:41:51 AM
I found it strange that the suite of music from Things To Come that I've got (Naxos, coupled with Miracle in the Gorbals and Discourse for Orchestra) does not include the March.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on January 05, 2019, 10:44:06 AM
But I must resist!!! ::) ;D
(You won't).  >:D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 06, 2019, 12:28:36 AM
I found it strange that the suite of music from Things To Come that I've got (Naxos, coupled with Miracle in the Gorbals and Discourse for Orchestra) does not include the March.
Nor 'Machines'.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Maestro267 on January 06, 2019, 12:14:11 PM
Apparently there's only ten numbers in the score. Why not just have all of them and be done with this "suite" nonsense?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 06, 2019, 01:07:21 PM
Apparently there's only ten numbers in the score. Why not just have all of them and be done with this "suite" nonsense?
Totally agree with you.

And also, if there is a suite why exclude movements which Bliss himself included?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Maestro267 on January 07, 2019, 10:56:02 AM
Same applies to the "Checkmate Suite", which comprises more than half of the complete score. It's only 55 minutes, and complete performances of the likes of The Rite of Spring, The Firebird and even Daphnis et Chloe are quite common. The complete Checkmate is a thrilling work.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 07, 2019, 11:13:23 AM
Same applies to the "Checkmate Suite", which comprises more than half of the complete score. It's only 55 minutes, and complete performances of the likes of The Rite of Spring, The Firebird and even Daphnis et Chloe are quite common. The complete Checkmate is a thrilling work.

I agree with you. It's on Naxos I think with the rather fine Melee Fantasque.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on January 07, 2019, 04:46:28 PM
Apparently there's only ten numbers in the score. Why not just have all of them and be done with this "suite" nonsense?

Because in a film score you might have impractical choices that limit the performance likelihood.  That is after all why the suite exists.  For example, in West Side Story, the film used three pianos in a single cue.  That was possible because the studio owned the pianos.  That is incredibly impractical so even the live to film version will make it a single piano for the whole score.  Things To Come used a children's chorus in one cue I believe and a full chorus + organ in the finale.  So adaptions/suites are made to increase the appeal of the derived work.  A suite is not designed for the consumer, it's designed for the publisher to appeal to orchestras who have to pay for this.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2019, 12:38:40 PM
Because in a film score you might have impractical choices that limit the performance likelihood.  That is after all why the suite exists.  For example, in West Side Story, the film used three pianos in a single cue.  That was possible because the studio owned the pianos.  That is incredibly impractical so even the live to film version will make it a single piano for the whole score.  Things To Come used a children's chorus in one cue I believe and a full chorus + organ in the finale.  So adaptions/suites are made to increase the appeal of the derived work.  A suite is not designed for the consumer, it's designed for the publisher to appeal to orchestras who have to pay for this.
Thanks - interesting to know.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 30, 2019, 07:22:24 AM
What a wonderful work Melee Fantasque is. Currently being played live on Radio 3 conducted by Rumon Gamba. I find this comparatively short work to be rather moving. It was a most interesting concert of music by British composers including, Arnell, Eugene Goosens (Christo are you there?), Vaughan Williams ('Harnham Down' an early work I'd never heard before), Eric Fogg (died tragically aged 36 under a train on his way to his second marriage) and Dorothy Howell's rather fine tone poem 'Lamia'.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on January 30, 2019, 07:46:54 AM
What a wonderful work Melee Fantasque is. Currently being played live on Radio 3 conducted by Rumon Gamba. I find this comparatively short work to be rather moving. It was a most interesting concert of music by British composers including, Arnell, Eugene Goosens (Christo are you there?), Vaughan Williams ('Harnham Down' an early work I'd never heard before), Eric Fogg (died tragically aged 36 under a train on his way to his second marriage) and Dorothy Howell's rather fine tone poem 'Lamia'.

Nope, am here. :D Knew about the untimely death of Eric Fogg, but these circumstances are new to me. :(  RVW's Harnham Down (1904-7) is found on this cd - but is rather undistinctive indeed.

(https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0003/602/MI0003602398.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 30, 2019, 08:05:31 AM
Nope, am here. :D Knew about the untimely death of Eric Fogg, but these circumstances are new to me. :(  RVW's Harnham Down (1904-7) is found on this cd - but is rather undistinctive indeed.

(https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0003/602/MI0003602398.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)
Ha! There you are  :)
Yes, I have the CD but don't recall the work. I recently heard the Mayor of Casterbridge music by VW on the radio and really enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on April 22, 2019, 12:20:07 PM
Listened to a virtuoso performance of the Bliss Violin Concerto by Campoli with the LPO conducted by the composer this evening. Campoli sails through a work I would think most difficult to play. The first movement is straightforward, followed by a strange skittish Scherzo and then an Allegro with a slow introduction. My only criticism is the unaccompnied Cadenza in the finale goes on too long but that is a small point in a recording I enjoyed.

The companion piece on this Decca recording, Theme and Cadenza for Solo Violin and Orchestra which Bliss composed for a radio play aired in 1949 written by Trudy Bliss.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 22, 2019, 12:36:24 PM
Listened to a virtuoso performance of the Bliss Violin Concerto by Campoli with the LPO conducted by the composer this evening. Campoli sails through a work I would think most difficult to play. The first movement is straightforward, followed by a strange skittish Scherzo and then an Allegro with a slow introduction. My only criticism is the unaccompnied Cadenza in the finale goes on too long but that is a small point in a recording I enjoyed.

The companion piece on this Decca recording, Theme and Cadenza for Solo Violin and Orchestra which Bliss composed for a radio play aired in 1949 written by Trudy Bliss.
Happy memories of a Decca Eclipse LP:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on April 22, 2019, 10:40:53 PM
Happy memories of a Decca Eclipse LP:


I tend to avoid Eclipse reissues as many are fake stereo.

I listened to a late Ace of Clubs.

(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GCfctgwJzWA/UFYj4Rfh9bI/AAAAAAAACtM/qO_sE5UOA7Y/s1600/Bliss+Campoli+ACL+317.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 23, 2019, 07:52:14 AM
I tend to avoid Eclipse reissues as many are fake stereo.

I listened to a late Ace of Clubs.

(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GCfctgwJzWA/UFYj4Rfh9bI/AAAAAAAACtM/qO_sE5UOA7Y/s1600/Bliss+Campoli+ACL+317.jpg)

I grew up in the 'Decca Eclipse' generation!  8)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on April 23, 2019, 12:43:27 PM
I grew up in the 'Decca Eclipse' generation!  8)

Me too - but even on the very basic family stereo the re-processed 'stereo' sounded rubbish!  I stuck to newly recorded CFP for my 99p classical bargains!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Biffo on April 23, 2019, 11:29:54 PM
I grew up in the 'Decca Eclipse' generation!  8)

No idea what constitutes the 'Decca Eclipse generation'. I started collecting LPs in 1968 and over many years never purchased anything on the Eclipse label though I did buy various Ace of Clubs and Ace of Diamonds discs, some of them secondhand. Music for Pleasure was another great standby and later CfP. I never worried about sound very much and bought stuff new(ish) and secondhand from market stalls and secondhand shops. As I only had a mono record player for several years it didn't matter too much. I also bought new full-price discs when the budget ran to it but it was a while before I had the audio equipment to start to do them justice.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 24, 2019, 12:10:59 PM
No idea what constitutes the 'Decca Eclipse generation'. I started collecting LPs in 1968 and over many years never purchased anything on the Eclipse label though I did buy various Ace of Clubs and Ace of Diamonds discs, some of them secondhand. Music for Pleasure was another great standby and later CfP. I never worried about sound very much and bought stuff new(ish) and secondhand from market stalls and secondhand shops. As I only had a mono record player for several years it didn't matter too much. I also bought new full-price discs when the budget ran to it but it was a while before I had the audio equipment to start to do them justice.

I started collecting classical LPs probably about 1971/72 around the time of the VW Centenary when I was in the Sixth Form at school The Symphony 6 on Decca Eclipse (LPO/Boult with speech by the composer) had more impact on me than anything bought subsequently. Occasional I did buy stuff on Ace of Diamonds such as the Bliss 'Things to Come' with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches and 'Welcome the Queen'. My brother had some Ace of Clubs LPs, including Beethoven's Violin Concerto if I remember correctly.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on April 27, 2019, 02:02:37 AM
(https://thumbs.worthpoint.com/zoom/images1/1/0211/13/hyperion-dmm-germany-bliss-delme_1_9bac576cc892829e83f693a24f4e1b84.jpg)

Cannot make my mind up if the reason for my disappointment in this is down to the performance, recording or the works themselves. I think it quite likely a bit of all three. Hyperion have an excellent track record, I have some string quartets on Hyperion LPs that have excellent sound, but a lack of dynamic contrast is apparent in this recording. Bliss produces a moment - two actually - of magic in the Sostenuto slow movement of the second quartet when the movement opens with a strange ghostly sound, after this the movement proceeds normally to speed up at the ending and then stop dead for the ghostly sound to return at the coda with brilliant effect. Apart from this I cannot think of anything memorable in either quartet. Both the Quintets for Oboe and Clarinet are far more interesting in my opinion.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Biffo on April 27, 2019, 02:11:20 AM
I started collecting classical LPs probably about 1971/72 around the time of the VW Centenary when I was in the Sixth Form at school The Symphony 6 on Decca Eclipse (LPO/Boult with speech by the composer) had more impact on me than anything bought subsequently. Occasional I did buy stuff on Ace of Diamonds such as the Bliss 'Things to Come' with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches and 'Welcome the Queen'. My brother had some Ace of Clubs LPs, including Beethoven's Violin Concerto if I remember correctly.

The style of the LP covers looks familiar, possibly I saw Eclipse LPs in shops or record libraries but I never bought any, no idea why.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 27, 2019, 03:01:49 AM
(https://thumbs.worthpoint.com/zoom/images1/1/0211/13/hyperion-dmm-germany-bliss-delme_1_9bac576cc892829e83f693a24f4e1b84.jpg)

Cannot make my mind up if the reason for my disappointment in this is down to the performance, recording or the works themselves. I think it quite likely a bit of all three. Hyperion have an excellent track record, I have some string quartets on Hyperion LPs that have excellent sound, but a lack of dynamic contrast is apparent in this recording. Bliss produces a moment - two actually - of magic in the Sostenuto slow movement of the second quartet when the movement opens with a strange ghostly sound, after this the movement proceeds normally to speed up at the ending and then stop dead for the ghostly sound to return at the coda with brilliant effect. Apart from this I cannot think of anything memorable in either quartet. Both the Quintets for Oboe and Clarinet are far more interesting in my opinion.
For me the stand-out chamber work by Bliss is the Oboe Quintet, especially as performed by the Melos Ensemble. I don't especially like the string quartets but the Clarinet Quintet is enjoyable.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 27, 2019, 03:07:54 AM
The style of the LP covers looks familiar, possibly I saw Eclipse LPs in shops or record libraries but I never bought any, no idea why.

The fake stereo put a lot of people off but I remain very grateful to Decca Eclipse for introducing me, inexpensively, to so much classical music which has remained important to me, not least Boult's cycle of VW symphonies, Sibelius's Four Legends (Danish RSO, Jensen) , Bruckner's 5th Symphony (Knappertsbusch) and an interesting coupling of Barber's Cello Concerto (Nelsova/Barber) with Rawsthorne's Second Piano Concerto (Curzon/Sargent) amongst much else, such as the Bliss Violin Concerto (pictured above). I loved the way that the Lake District in the snow stood in for the Antarctic (below):

(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Biffo on April 27, 2019, 03:26:02 AM
The fake stereo put a lot of people off but I remain very grateful to Decca Eclipse for introducing me, inexpensively, to so much classical music which has remained important to me, not least Boult's cycle of VW symphonies, Sibelius's Four Legends (Danish RSO, Jensen) , Bruckner's 5th Symphony (Knappertsbusch) and an interesting coupling of Barber's Cello Concerto (Nelsova/Barber) with Rawsthorne's Second Piano Concerto (Curzon/Sargent) amongst much else, such as the Bliss Violin Concerto (pictured above). I loved the way that the Lake District in the snow stood in for the Antarctic (below):

(http://)

I remember borrowing the Antartica from a record library but with a different cover. I wasn't particularly bothered by fake stereo, like you, I just wanted to hear the music.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on April 28, 2019, 01:04:35 AM
Not all Eclipse are "electronically reprocessed stereo" some are true mono and others stereo. One of my favourite stereo Eclipse is the famous Borodin SQ recording.

(http://assets.rootsvinylguide.com/pictures/1963-uk-nrm-decca-ecs-795-stereo-borodin-2-shostakovich-8-string-quartets-th_44778843)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 28, 2019, 02:04:41 AM
Not all Eclipse are "electronically reprocessed stereo" some are true mono and others stereo. One of my favourite stereo Eclipse is the famous Borodin SQ recording.

(http://assets.rootsvinylguide.com/pictures/1963-uk-nrm-decca-ecs-795-stereo-borodin-2-shostakovich-8-string-quartets-th_44778843)

I think that was from a later Eclipse series - the design of the Eclipse logo is slightly different. Yes, it was a fine recording. I seem to recall that Boult's LPO/Decca recording of Vaughan Williams's Symphony No.8 was in stereo, the only one of the series, which is maybe why Decca released it as part of their 'Legendary Performances' series, although I'm not sure that it is a legendary performance, but certainly a very good one.
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on April 28, 2019, 04:41:46 AM
I think that was from a later Eclipse series - the design of the Eclipse logo is slightly different. Yes, it was a fine recording. I seem to recall that Boult's LPO/Decca recording of Vaughan Williams's Symphony No.8 was in stereo, the only one of the series, which is maybe why Decca released it as part of their 'Legendary Performances' series, although I'm not sure that it is a legendary performance, but certainly a very good one.


I have that recording on Ace of Diamonds, and yes in stereo.

(https://img.discogs.com/xFnG8sryrHr71gueF2LN7cGVm0Y=/fit-in/600x580/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-8563165-1464107087-2099.jpeg.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 28, 2019, 05:22:12 AM
I have that recording on Ace of Diamonds, and yes in stereo.

(https://img.discogs.com/xFnG8sryrHr71gueF2LN7cGVm0Y=/fit-in/600x580/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-8563165-1464107087-2099.jpeg.jpg)

That's a great cover image!

Here it is on Decca Eclipse:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on April 28, 2019, 10:31:19 AM
On your cover it is "Sir Adrian Boult" on mine, plain old "Boult". ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 28, 2019, 01:31:57 PM
On your cover it is "Sir Adrian Boult" on mine, plain old "Boult". ;D
Hadn't noticed that! Those Ace of Diamonds designs were very nice.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: aukhawk on April 28, 2019, 11:49:39 PM
I have that recording on Ace of Diamonds, and yes in stereo.

As I recall, the 'Ace of Diamonds' moniker specifically denoted stereo - among other things, ie, Ace of Diamonds = Decca reissue, bargain, stereo.  Where Ace of Clubs was mono.

And it was Eclipse, I seem to recall, that had a small hole punched in one corner of the sleeve, on the back side.  This allowed the paper inner to show through and the colour of the inner was used to denote 'mono' or 'stereo'.  At a time when dealers had to stock both, this allowed the same outer sleeve to be used for either.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Biffo on April 29, 2019, 12:06:46 AM
As I recall, the 'Ace of Diamonds' moniker specifically denoted stereo - among other things, ie, Ace of Diamonds = Decca reissue, bargain, stereo.  Where Ace of Clubs was mono.

And it was Eclipse, I seem to recall, that had a small hole punched in one corner of the sleeve, on the back side.  This allowed the paper inner to show through and the colour of the inner was used to denote 'mono' or 'stereo'.  At a time when dealers had to stock both, this allowed the same outer sleeve to be used for either.

For a time Decca issued its full prices LPs in both mono and stereo, I am not sure about Ace of Diamonds. The copy of Bohm's recording of Die Frau ohne Schatten I owned was a reissue on AoD and was in mono. I no longer have the LPs  but my catalogue identifies it as mono; all the other AoD issues I own/owned are stereo and all the AoC are mono.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on April 29, 2019, 01:13:16 AM
As I recall, the 'Ace of Diamonds' moniker specifically denoted stereo - among other things, ie, Ace of Diamonds = Decca reissue, bargain, stereo.  Where Ace of Clubs was mono.

And it was Eclipse, I seem to recall, that had a small hole punched in one corner of the sleeve, on the back side.  This allowed the paper inner to show through and the colour of the inner was used to denote 'mono' or 'stereo'.  At a time when dealers had to stock both, this allowed the same outer sleeve to be used for either.

I'd forgotten about that punched hole - but of course you are right.  That RVW Symphony 8 was the only one in the Boult Decca set that was recorded in stereo as I recall..... (but I've no idea if it was ever released in a mono option)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on April 29, 2019, 07:01:03 AM
As I recall, the 'Ace of Diamonds' moniker specifically denoted stereo - among other things, ie, Ace of Diamonds = Decca reissue, bargain, stereo.  Where Ace of Clubs was mono.



(https://img.discogs.com/5yC5tZwM4mgr2CFmMwncdnC22Bo=/fit-in/600x598/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-8465267-1474647361-3619.jpeg.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on April 29, 2019, 11:53:27 AM
I'd forgotten about that punched hole - but of course you are right.  That RVW Symphony 8 was the only one in the Boult Decca set that was recorded in stereo as I recall..... (but I've no idea if it was ever released in a mono option)

I remember the punched hole scenario very clearly. Red and blue I think.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on May 14, 2019, 01:21:12 AM
A fine early Bliss discovery for me and another great Decca Eclipse LP image:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on July 27, 2019, 02:43:47 PM
I am confused by the various incarnations of Things to Come.  There are multiple suites with different movements and vastly different instrumentation.  Some are quite modest and others are extensive with large orchestra, chorus, and organ.  I assume we don't have a full recording of the score, only the various suites.  Maybe Martin Yates will record a complete reconstructed score one day? 

My favorite version is probably Christopher Palmer's arrangement conducted by Sir Charles Groves with the finale conducted by Bernard Herrmann.  John Mauceri conducted the Hollywood Bowl in the suite with chorus and a grand choral finale.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Daverz on July 27, 2019, 03:00:02 PM
I tried to order the complete Checkmate ballet on Naxos and instead got the the Handley/Liverpool Checkmate Suite on EMI (always a risk when ordering on Amazon Marketplace that the vendor will be clueless; they refunded my money).  Comparing, I think the later digital Handley with the Ulster Orchestra on Chandos is a sexier recording of the suite.  At least the wrong CD has a beautiful recording of the Meditations on a Theme of John Blow.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/815gOzctW7L._SL1500_.jpg)



Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 27, 2019, 10:46:57 PM
I am confused by the various incarnations of Things to Come.  There are multiple suites with different movements and vastly different instrumentation.  Some are quite modest and others are extensive with large orchestra, chorus, and organ.  I assume we don't have a full recording of the score, only the various suites.  Maybe Martin Yates will record a complete reconstructed score one day? 

My favorite version is probably Christopher Palmer's arrangement conducted by Sir Charles Groves with the finale conducted by Bernard Herrmann.  John Mauceri conducted the Hollywood Bowl in the suite with chorus and a grand choral finale.
I think that this one (Chandos) is pretty complete Karim. I like the Suite from Things to Come but feel strongly that the short but ominous 'Machines' should be included. Bliss included it in his own arrangement of the music but other versions, including the otherwise excellent Christopher Palmer version do not. I can't understand why it is often excluded and that rules out those versions for me. Therefore Bliss's own version remains my favourite despite the age of the recording:

(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 27, 2019, 10:53:52 PM
I tried to order the complete Checkmate ballet on Naxos and instead got the the Handley/Liverpool Checkmate Suite on EMI (always a risk when ordering on Amazon Marketplace that the vendor will be clueless; they refunded my money).  Comparing, I think the later digital Handley with the Ulster Orchestra on Chandos is a sexier recording of the suite.  At least the wrong CD has a beautiful recording of the Meditations on a Theme of John Blow.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/815gOzctW7L._SL1500_.jpg)
I like that EMI disc that you got sent by mistake, especially as I like 'Adam Zero'. In fact that is one of my favourite Bliss CDs. I also like the Meditations on a Theme of John Blow, although my favourite version of it is conducted by Hugo Rignold with the Birmingham SO on Lyrita.
(http://)
Of course you need the Naxos for the complete 'Checkmate' and the fill-up 'Melee Fantasque' was an excellent recent discovery for me.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on July 28, 2019, 04:06:14 AM
I am fairly certain that Bliss recorded "Checkmate" suite for the World Record Club". Although the WRC, a subscription label, released many recordings under licence from other labels I think this from 1960 is an original recording. An excellent performance.

(https://images.991.com/large_image/Arthur+Bliss+Checkmate+Ballet+Suite++Handel-671437.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 28, 2019, 08:39:02 AM
I am fairly certain that Bliss recorded "Checkmate" suite for the World Record Club". Although the WRC, a subscription label, released many recordings under licence from other labels I think this from 1960 is an original recording. An excellent performance.

(https://images.991.com/large_image/Arthur+Bliss+Checkmate+Ballet+Suite++Handel-671437.jpg)
It's a fine old performance Lol. Here it is on my first LP encounter with the work:
(http://)
HMV Concert Classics, like Decca Eclipse, was an inexpensive way of discovering classical music in my youth.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on July 28, 2019, 11:02:48 PM
It's a fine old performance Lol. Here it is on my first LP encounter with the work:

HMV Concert Classics, like Decca Eclipse, was an inexpensive way of discovering classical music in my youth.

A more apt coupling Jeffrey which was also from from a WRC recording.

(http://lpcorner.com/img/p/1/2/7/8/7/12787-thickbox_default.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 28, 2019, 11:43:12 PM
A more apt coupling Jeffrey which was also from from a WRC recording.

(http://lpcorner.com/img/p/1/2/7/8/7/12787-thickbox_default.jpg)
Interesting Lol. Never seen that interesting-looking LP before.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on July 29, 2019, 04:59:42 AM
I think that this one (Chandos) is pretty complete Karim. I like the Suite from Things to Come but feel strongly that the short but ominous 'Machines' should be included. Bliss included it in his own arrangement of the music but other versions, including the otherwise excellent Christopher Palmer version do not. I can't understand why it is often excluded and that rules out those versions for me. Therefore Bliss's own version remains my favourite despite the age of the recording:

(http://)

Thanks, this seems to be a newer performance of Machines from 1961
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SST6y6U54v0

and I think John Mauceri added it to his version of the suite along with a Christmas choral and chorus in digital studio sound.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I16PAcxc84
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 29, 2019, 12:30:08 PM
Thanks, this seems to be a newer performance of Machines from 1961
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SST6y6U54v0

and I think John Mauceri added it to his version of the suite along with a Christmas choral and chorus in digital studio sound.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I16PAcxc84
Very interesting and thanks for posting. As one of the commentators noted Arnold plays 'Machines' at about half the speed of a Bliss. Very interesting to hear but it rather loses its sense of looming threat. Malcolm Arnold did much the same in his recording of his own 1st Symphony, played incredibly slowly. However, I really like that version which gives the work greater gravity than the other recordings by Handley, Hickox's and Penny for example. I have that 'Journey to the Stars' CD and must fish it out.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on July 29, 2019, 03:08:52 PM
Very interesting and thanks for posting. As one of the commentators noted Arnold plays 'Machines' at about half the speed of a Bliss. Very interesting to hear but it rather loses its sense of looming threat. Malcolm Arnold did much the same in his recording of his own 1st Symphony, played incredibly slowly. However, I really like that version which gives the work greater gravity than the other recordings by Handley, Hickox's and Penny for example. I have that 'Journey to the Stars' CD and must fish it out.

Yes check out the "Journey to the Stars" because it has a very different ending to any suite I've heard or the film itself. Probably the most epic.  Also my favorite version of "pestilence" because the horns rise to the very high B natural which is handed off to the trumpets in other recordings I've heard.  Much prefer the intensity here.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 29, 2019, 09:37:51 PM
Yes check out the "Journey to the Stars" because it has a very different ending to any suite I've heard or the film itself. Probably the most epic.  Also my favorite version of "pestilence" because the horns rise to the very high B natural which is handed off to the trumpets in other recordings I've heard.  Much prefer the intensity here.
I certainly will do. Thanks
I have a recording of A London Symphony by Vaughan Williams conducted by Mitropolous (1945) in which he brings back the chimes of Big Ben at the very end of the work. That is not in any of the versions of the original score and gave me quite a jolt when I first heard it. Goodness knows what the composer would have thought about it!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 01, 2019, 11:32:27 AM
Yes check out the "Journey to the Stars" because it has a very different ending to any suite I've heard or the film itself. Probably the most epic.  Also my favorite version of "pestilence" because the horns rise to the very high B natural which is handed off to the trumpets in other recordings I've heard.  Much prefer the intensity here.
Well, I listened to the John Mauceri recording of 'Things to Come' this evening and you are quite right Karim - it does include a reference to 'Machines' from 10:55 although the track listing doesn't mention it at all. I really enjoyed the version with the Big Ben chimes, choral contributions and added sound effects. Thanks very much for reminding me of this interesting and varied disc. So, 'Machines', therefore, only features in the recordings by Bliss himself, Gamba, Malcolm Arnold (not released on disc as far as I'm aware) and Mauceri.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on August 01, 2019, 03:17:48 PM
Well, I listened to the John Mauceri recording of 'Things to Come' this evening and you are quite right Karim - it does include a reference to 'Machines' from 10:55 although the track listing doesn't mention it at all. I really enjoyed the version with the Big Ben chimes, choral contributions and added sound effects. Thanks very much for reminding me of this interesting and varied disc. So, 'Machines', therefore, only features in the recordings by Bliss himself, Gamba, Malcolm Arnold (not released on disc as far as I'm aware) and Mauceri.

So my point is each version of the suite I hear has added interesting material so we need a reconstruction of all the music.  Everything I've heard from these various suites has been very good.  I have no idea where the Mauceri ending came from, that's not in the film but is a very thrilling ending with blasting orchestra, chorus, and triumphant fanfares.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 01, 2019, 10:15:25 PM
So my point is each version of the suite I hear has added interesting material so we need a reconstruction of all the music.  Everything I've heard from these various suites has been very good.  I have no idea where the Mauceri ending came from, that's not in the film but is a very thrilling ending with blasting orchestra, chorus, and triumphant fanfares.
That's absolutely right. Christopher Palmer did a lot of great work on reconstructing music from films (Do you know Alwyn's 'Odd Man Out' - a truly symphonic rearrangement I think?) I still think that Bliss's own suite from 'Things to Come' is my favourite although I'm sure that I'll be playing the Mauceri CD often, not least because of the other interesting music on the CD and because, unlike Christopher Palmer' he does include the brief but ominous 'Machines'. Mauceri clearly adds some of his own material but that is not a problem for me. Bliss has been done no favours by the suggestion (repeated in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs etc) that the most memorable thing he wrote was the March from Things to Come. I don't even think that it's the best part of the Suite and believe that he wrote much more memorable material throughout his career.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on August 02, 2019, 04:56:44 AM
That's absolutely right. Christopher Palmer did a lot of great work on reconstructing music from films (Do you know Alwyn's 'Odd Man Out' - a truly symphonic rearrangement I think?) I still think that Bliss's own suite from 'Things to Come' is my favourite although I'm sure that I'll be playing the Mauceri CD often, not least because of the other interesting music on the CD and because, unlike Christopher Palmer' he does include the brief but ominous 'Machines'. Mauceri clearly adds some of his own material but that is not a problem for me. Bliss has been done no favours by the suggestion (repeated in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs etc) that the most memorable thing he wrote was the March from Things to Come. I don't even think that it's the best part of the Suite and believe that he wrote much more memorable material throughout his career.

Yes totally agree that the march isn't the most interesting.  I definitely prefer the dramatic/epic moments more.  I haven't heard Alwyn's 'Odd Man Out' but have added it to my listening list.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 02, 2019, 05:19:17 AM
Yes totally agree that the march isn't the most interesting.  I definitely prefer the dramatic/epic moments more.  I haven't heard Alwyn's 'Odd Man Out' but have added it to my listening list.
Oh, you have to hear that - here is the Prelude if you'd like to sample it. In a way it reminds me of 'The Procession to Calvary' from Rozsa's score for 'Ben Hur':
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EwXCsS85OXY
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on August 02, 2019, 03:56:17 PM
Oh, you have to hear that - here is the Prelude if you'd like to sample it. In a way it reminds me of 'The Procession to Calvary' from Rozsa's score for 'Ben Hur':
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EwXCsS85OXY

That was epic!  Should Christopher Palmer get his own thread here?  Would you consider him an arranger only or a distinct voice?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: SymphonicAddict on August 02, 2019, 04:15:23 PM
What would be an epic and memorable work other than the A Colour Symphony that you could recommend? I'm not myself a big fan of him, but I've enjoyed some other works e.g. Cello concerto, the mildly gargantuan Piano Concerto in B flat and Morning Heroes, though with no much more memories for now.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on August 02, 2019, 07:28:10 PM
What would be an epic and memorable work other than the A Colour Symphony that you could recommend? I'm not myself a big fan of him, but I've enjoyed some other works e.g. Cello concerto, the mildly gargantuan Piano Concerto in B flat and Morning Heroes, though with no much more memories for now.

Overall, he's not one of my favorite British composers either - his music doesn't have much of a distinctive "personality" IMO, though it's still well-written and enjoyable. I'd definitely recommend his moving and uplifting (and, at some points, darkly disturbing) Meditations on a Theme of John Blow. The pastoral Oboe Quintet is very nice as well. I recently came to know and enjoy his epic, sometimes gawky (in a good way), and other times sweepingly romantic Piano Concerto. Peter Donohoe's recording on Naxos is excellent.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 02, 2019, 11:54:10 PM
That was epic!  Should Christopher Palmer get his own thread here?  Would you consider him an arranger only or a distinct voice?
Delighted you liked it. No Alwyn collection is complete without it!
Christopher Palmer, who died much too young, was a multi-talented arranger and musicologist. I think he composed as well. Without him many great film scores would not be known. His 'Henry V' reconstruction (Walton) is one of his finest achievements I think.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 02, 2019, 11:58:29 PM
What would be an epic and memorable work other than the A Colour Symphony that you could recommend? I'm not myself a big fan of him, but I've enjoyed some other works e.g. Cello concerto, the mildly gargantuan Piano Concerto in B flat and Morning Heroes, though with no much more memories for now.
The interesting thing about Bliss is that he is not one of my favourite composers either but I find myself often returning to his music! Memorable moments for me would include, off the top of my head, the 'Dance of Summer' from Adam Zero, the climax of the first movement of the Piano Concerto and the 'return of the cannon fire' and final section 'Dawn on the Somme' from Morning Heroes. Also I consider both the Miracle in the Gorbals and the eloquent Oboe Quintet to be memorable throughout and agree with Kyle's choices as well. Also, 'Hymn to Apollo' and 'Melee Fantasque' as well as 'Checkmate'.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: SymphonicAddict on August 03, 2019, 11:19:30 AM
Kyle and Jeffrey, thank you for the kind suggestions. I'm surely listening to some of the works you mentioned later. Bliss is a bit of a blind spot for me.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 04, 2020, 11:34:50 AM
I wrote about the ceremonial work 'A Song of Welcome' on the WAYLT thread but as I find the orchestral opening of the last movement 'Soon it is dawn' quite magical I thought I'd post it here (Joan Sutherland's first recording):

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SAcpYEVYbRk

(http://)


Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 05, 2020, 09:05:26 AM
Bliss is not a very fashionable composer and since his death in 1975 his music has gone into something of an eclipse - and yet, I often find myself returning to it.
Recently I've been enjoying this CD, especially the Meditations on John Blow's theme:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 05, 2020, 12:57:55 PM
Bliss is not a very fashionable composer and since his death in 1975 his music has gone into something of an eclipse - and yet, I often find myself returning to it.
Recently I've been enjoying this CD, especially the Meditations on John Blow's theme:
(http://)

I've been dithering about this disc - as a performance where would you rank the "Meditations" and how about the couplings in their own right.... vintage Bliss?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 06, 2020, 02:54:10 AM
I've been dithering about this disc - as a performance where would you rank the "Meditations" and how about the couplings in their own right.... vintage Bliss?
I'm not that keen on either of the other two works but, in my opinion, the CD is worth getting for the very fine performance and recording of the 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow' - the best version I have heard since Hugo Rignold's classic CBSO recording on Lyrita. I'm playing the CD now which confirms my view. It is perhaps a more reflective view of the work than some recordings but it is even more moving and beautifully recorded. Of course the Penguin Stereo Record Guide's reference to the work as 'aimiable but rambling' did the work no favours.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 10:30:43 PM
I've been dithering about this disc - as a performance where would you rank the "Meditations" and how about the couplings in their own right.... vintage Bliss?

Here's a very positive review of it RS:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2020/Jan/Bliss_Mary_CHSA5242.htm
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on May 26, 2020, 07:20:15 PM
Bliss is not a very fashionable composer and since his death in 1975 his music has gone into something of an eclipse - and yet, I often find myself returning to it.
Recently I've been enjoying this CD, especially the Meditations on John Blow's theme:
(http://)

Today I revisited the Meditations for the first time in a while in this magnificent new Chandos recording with Andrew Davis at the helm. What a wonderful and deeply moving work it is; I'd say it's Bliss' masterpiece. It is one of those works which is generally positive in outlook but has notable moments where shadows pass over the landscape, and to great effect. Moments of wonderful pastoral bliss (no pun intended ;)) transition into jagged, anxious, even disturbing passages. I especially loved the contrast between the magically idyllic In Green Pastures movement and the tense, creepy Interlude: Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death which directly follows it (there's an ingenious transition between the two movements as well). Bliss was a remarkable orchestrator and creator of uniquely memorable moods, and his powers are on full display in this work.

I've also discovered two gems in Bliss' chamber output recently, namely, the String Quartet no. 1 and the Viola Sonata, both of which have received excellent recordings on Naxos. The quartet is really satisfying and inventive, and the sonata is one of the finest works of its kind that I've encountered - a darkly passionate, tempestuous work which has a deep sense of humanity.

Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 21, 2020, 01:32:54 AM
Today I revisited the Meditations for the first time in a while in this magnificent new Chandos recording with Andrew Davis at the helm. What a wonderful and deeply moving work it is; I'd say it's Bliss' masterpiece. It is one of those works which is generally positive in outlook but has notable moments where shadows pass over the landscape, and to great effect. Moments of wonderful pastoral bliss (no pun intended ;)) transition into jagged, anxious, even disturbing passages. I especially loved the contrast between the magically idyllic In Green Pastures movement and the tense, creepy Interlude: Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death which directly follows it (there's an ingenious transition between the two movements as well). Bliss was a remarkable orchestrator and creator of uniquely memorable moods, and his powers are on full display in this work.

I've also discovered two gems in Bliss' chamber output recently, namely, the String Quartet no. 1 and the Viola Sonata, both of which have received excellent recordings on Naxos. The quartet is really satisfying and inventive, and the sonata is one of the finest works of its kind that I've encountered - a darkly passionate, tempestuous work which has a deep sense of humanity.


I must have missed this post Kyle. The Oboe Quintet is my favourite chamber work by Bliss and I share your view of 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow' and liked your description of the work. I like the moment just before the end where a 'dark cloud' passes briefly across the Sun implying, I think that spiritual 'victory/enlightenment' (however you interpret that) is never final and we must remain vigilant (that's how I see it anyway!) Good as the Andrew Davis version is my favourite recording is under Hugo Rignold with the City of Birmingham SO on Lyrita.

Copied over from WAYLT thread:
New arrival.
Now playing: 'Things to Come' (best version of the Suite IMO)

This is a very nicely produced double CD set with very clear sound. I also like the way that the original LP sleeves are reproduced in the booklet. This set features the first CD release on Decca of 'Things to Come' and the SQ No.2 and the first Decca release of the original (Mono) version of the Violin Concerto.
My Father's Day present to myself  ;D:

(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on June 21, 2020, 09:45:16 AM
I don't know if already mentioned but I very much like the Bliss Cello Concerto. A work that struck an immediate chord in me. I like what Bliss said about his creation "there are no problems for the listener, only for the soloist". Only if more composers could be so accommodating. :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on June 21, 2020, 02:57:49 PM
I must have missed this post Kyle. The Oboe Quintet is my favourite chamber work by Bliss and I share your view of 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow' and liked your description of the work. I like the moment just before the end where a 'dark cloud' passes briefly across the Sun implying, I think that spiritual 'victory/enlightenment' (however you interpret that) is never final and we must remain vigilant (that's how I see it anyway!) Good as the Andrew Davis version is my favourite recording is under Hugo Rignold with the City of Birmingham SO on Lyrita.

I love your description of that one passage right before the end of the Meditations! A striking effect indeed. The Oboe Quintet is a fine work, though I enjoy several other chamber works of his equally as much.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on June 21, 2020, 02:59:16 PM
I don't know if already mentioned but I very much like the Bliss Cello Concerto. A work that struck an immediate chord in me. I like what Bliss said about his creation "there are no problems for the listener, only for the soloist". Only if more composers could be so accommodating. :)

:D I do remember it seeming like a very technically difficult work for the cellist! It’s a fine work; I should revisit it sometime.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on June 26, 2020, 06:33:14 PM
Was listening to this disc yesterday:



Strangely, Bliss' most popular work, A Colour Symphony, leaves me cold for the most part. I'm not really sure why; I just don't find most of the ideas memorable at all. I like the lyrical first movement well enough, but the only thing I can say I remember from the remaining movements is a rather academic fugue at the beginning of the finale. To me, the companion work on this disc - the ballet Adam Zero - is a much more compelling and engaging work. I'm surprised it's barely been mentioned at all in this thread. This is characterful, memorable music with a strong rhythmic and melodic profile. Some of the lyrical music is truly sexy (witness the Love Dance) and I couldn't sit still in my seat during the exceptionally groovy, jazz-influenced Night Club Scene. The variety of influences and ideas present cohere surprisingly well and this is a work I'll certainly be returning to soon. Highly recommended! Now I'm excited to hear Bliss' other ballets, Checkmate and Miracle in the Gorbals.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 26, 2020, 07:11:07 PM
I don't know if already mentioned but I very much like the Bliss Cello Concerto. A work that struck an immediate chord in me. I like what Bliss said about his creation "there are no problems for the listener, only for the soloist". Only if more composers could be so accommodating. :)
+1
I like all three of his concertos and have recently been enjoying the Violin Concerto as performed by Campoli.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 26, 2020, 07:18:40 PM
Was listening to this disc yesterday:



Strangely, Bliss' most popular work, A Colour Symphony, leaves me cold for the most part. I'm not really sure why; I just don't find most of the ideas memorable at all. I like the lyrical first movement well enough, but the only thing I can say I remember from the remaining movements is a rather academic fugue at the beginning of the finale. To me, the companion work on this disc - the ballet Adam Zero - is a much more compelling and engaging work. I'm surprised it's barely been mentioned at all in this thread. This is characterful, memorable music with a strong rhythmic and melodic profile. Some of the lyrical music is truly sexy (witness the Love Dance) and I couldn't sit still in my seat during the exceptionally groovy, jazz-influenced Night Club Scene. The variety of influences and ideas present cohere surprisingly well and this is a work I'll certainly be returning to soon. Highly recommended! Now I'm excited to hear Bliss' other ballets, Checkmate and Miracle in the Gorbals.
I enjoy 'A Colour Symphony' Kyle but don't consider it one of Bliss's finest works. I also like Adam Zero which I think is Bliss's finest Ballet score. I'm sure that you'll enjoy Checkmate and Miracle in the Gorbals which are both exciting and memorable scores. Bliss is an interesting composer. He is not one, perhaps, of the greatest British composers but I often find myself returning to his music. I think that 'Morning Heroes' is his greatest work, especially in Charles Groves's recording:
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on June 26, 2020, 11:08:02 PM
Was listening to this disc yesterday:



Strangely, Bliss' most popular work, A Colour Symphony, leaves me cold for the most part. I'm not really sure why; I just don't find most of the ideas memorable at all. I like the lyrical first movement well enough, but the only thing I can say I remember from the remaining movements is a rather academic fugue at the beginning of the finale. To me, the companion work on this disc - the ballet Adam Zero - is a much more compelling and engaging work. I'm surprised it's barely been mentioned at all in this thread. This is characterful, memorable music with a strong rhythmic and melodic profile. Some of the lyrical music is truly sexy (witness the Love Dance) and I couldn't sit still in my seat during the exceptionally groovy, jazz-influenced Night Club Scene. The variety of influences and ideas present cohere surprisingly well and this is a work I'll certainly be returning to soon. Highly recommended! Now I'm excited to hear Bliss' other ballets, Checkmate and Miracle in the Gorbals.

Kyjo; You are not alone - by all accounts Elgar didn't like the Colour Symphony either, but it is one of my favourite Bliss works - to my ear it oozes with memorability  A few years ago the BBC used the scherzo as their theme for the Olympics coverage.  Listen to the smooching harmonies in "Green".  Bliss operates on a higher level of dissonance in his harmonic writing than most composers who you might otherwise group together.  Even things like the "Things to Come" march are not just a kind of latter day Pomp & Circumstance but something pretending confidence shot through with doubt - the harmony working against any 'comfortable' security.

The 3 main ballets (there's at least one other - the least well known Lady of Shallot) are all superb.  Sadly only Checkmate is still in the ballet repertoire in terms of being danced.  It is an incredibly powerful work seen staged - the denouement of the Red King being killed by the Black Queen is genius - especially in the original choreography.  I saw it many years ago at the Royal Opera House and it remains one of my most treasured performance memories.  I love the music of Miracle in the Gorbals.  The value of the Naxos recording is that it is complete - the only version.  But to get the spirit of the music Berglund in Bournemouth on EMI/Warner is better.  He gets the range of the moods more powerfully from threatening to joyful.  Its a rather dark story with evil triumphing over good - but in essence that is the theme behind all 3 of the Bliss ballets;  Death triumphs over Love in Checkmate; old age defeats youth and aspiration in Adam Zero and Evil over Good in "Miracle".  In Checkmate and "Adam" - the end of the ballets 're-set' - so there is hope.... of a kind.  "Miracle" is rather more bleak.

PS:  the original LP of "Miracle" from Berglund was coupled with the Arto Noras version of the Cello Concerto - and that remains my favourite version of that great work too.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 26, 2020, 11:20:32 PM
Kyjo; You are not alone - by all accounts Elgar didn't like the Colour Symphony either, but it is one of my favourite Bliss works - to my ear it oozes with memorability  A few years ago the BBC used the scherzo as their theme for the Olympics coverage.  Listen to the smooching harmonies in "Green".  Bliss operates on a higher level of dissonance in his harmonic writing than most composers who you might otherwise group together.  Even things like the "Things to Come" march are not just a kind of latter day Pomp & Circumstance but something pretending confidence shot through with doubt - the harmony working against any 'comfortable' security.

The 3 main ballets (there's at least one other - the least well known Lady of Shallot) are all superb.  Sadly only Checkmate is still in the ballet repertoire in terms of being danced.  It is an incredibly powerful work seen staged - the denouement of the Red King being killed by the Black Queen is genius - especially in the original choreography.  I saw it many years ago at the Royal Opera House and it remains one of my most treasured performance memories.  I love the music of Miracle in the Gorbals.  The value of the Naxos recording is that it is complete - the only version.  But to get the spirit of the music Berglund in Bournemouth on EMI/Warner is better.  He gets the range of the moods more powerfully from threatening to joyful.  Its a rather dark story with evil triumphing over good - but in essence that is the theme behind all 3 of the Bliss ballets;  Death triumphs over Love in Checkmate; old age defeats youth and aspiration in Adam Zero and Evil over Good in "Miracle".  In Checkmate and "Adam" - the end of the ballets 're-set' - so there is hope.... of a kind.  "Miracle" is rather more bleak.

PS:  the original LP of "Miracle" from Berglund was coupled with the Arto Noras version of the Cello Concerto - and that remains my favourite version of that great work too.
Very nice analysis RS. It must be great to see 'Checkmate' performed on stage. The notes for the new Decca Originals Bliss set references Elgar's disappointment with A Colour Symphony. Elgar may have been a greater composer but I find that I listen to Bliss much more than to Elgar.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 27, 2020, 12:37:23 AM
Arrived today. The CD also contains a nice bonus (especially for a resident of Sussex), Bax's 'Morning Song' (Maytime in Sussex):
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 27, 2020, 07:11:56 AM
On to the Bliss PC now. The climax of the first movement is one of the great Bliss moments for me and here it is very well realised. The Rubbra is a reflective and poetic work and the Bliss is a Grand Statement. What an attractive CD plus Bax's 'Maytime in Sussex' is an added bonus:

So, two great CDs have been smuggled into the house this weekend. Barbirolli's 70th Birthday concert with a fine Vaughan Williams's 6th Symphony and this one:
(http://)
 ;D
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on June 28, 2020, 01:45:32 AM
On to the Bliss PC now. The climax of the first movement is one of the great Bliss moments for me and here it is very well realised. The Rubbra is a reflective and poetic work and the Bliss is a Grand Statement. What an attractive CD plus Bax's 'Maytime in Sussex' is an added bonus:

So, two great CDs have been smuggled into the house this weekend. Barbirolli's 70th Birthday concert with a fine Vaughan Williams's 6th Symphony and this one:
(http://)
 ;D

I've been listening to this new disc too.  The Rubbra impressed - exactly as you describe.  The Bliss has never engaged me as much as many of his other works - too self consciously barn-storming and trying to impress in a latter-day warhorse manner.  Good performances here - the Rubbra especially.  I think the Bliss is better served by Donahoe on Naxos who really goes for the big virtuosic manner.  May Song is a late Bax charmer - good performance again although I would also prefer Wass on Naxos if I had to choose one.  But its splitting hairs stuff.....
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Christo on June 28, 2020, 03:57:30 AM
Strangely, Bliss' most popular work, A Colour Symphony, leaves me cold for the most part. I'm not really sure why; I just don't find most of the ideas memorable at all.
I enjoy 'A Colour Symphony' Kyle but don't consider it one of Bliss's finest works.
Kyjo; You are not alone - by all accounts Elgar didn't like the Colour Symphony either, but it is one of my favourite Bliss works - to my ear it oozes with memorability.

Very interesting to learn & also a bit of a shocker for me: I side with Roasted Swan here, find A Colour Symphony really a towering masterpiece, probably my favourite of all of Bliss compositions (especially the first three movements a 'cup overflowing'). It is, of course, a symphony of the Great War just as much as its contemporary 'A Pastoral Symphony' by Vaughan Williams, both full of double layers and brimming with this 'special meaning'.  :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 28, 2020, 04:31:33 AM
I've been listening to this new disc too.  The Rubbra impressed - exactly as you describe.  The Bliss has never engaged me as much as many of his other works - too self consciously barn-storming and trying to impress in a latter-day warhorse manner.  Good performances here - the Rubbra especially.  I think the Bliss is better served by Donahoe on Naxos who really goes for the big virtuosic manner.  May Song is a late Bax charmer - good performance again although I would also prefer Wass on Naxos if I had to choose one.  But its splitting hairs stuff.....
Interesting to read RS. The CD gets a good review in the Sunday Times Culture section today. I think that I prefer  the recording of the Bax on Chandos. I hadn't realised that it had been written for the 21st Birthday of Princes Elizabeth, as she then was. I hope to play the CD again later.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 28, 2020, 04:34:42 AM
Very interesting to learn & also a bit of a shocker for me: I side with Roasted Swan here, find A Colour Symphony really a towering masterpiece, probably my favourite of all of Bliss compositions (especially the first three movements a 'cup overflowing'). It is, of course, a symphony of the Great War just as much as its contemporary 'A Pastoral Symphony' by Vaughan Williams, both full of double layers and brimming with this 'special meaning'.  :)
I do enjoy the work but think 'Morning Heroes', for example, is the greater work. I must listen to A Colour Symphony again. I remember being especially impressed by Charles Groves's recording as I was of his towering version of 'Morning Heroes' which I prefer to the recent Andrew Davis version. I think the point is that I find A Colour Symphony very enjoyable and it has an exciting conclusion. However, I do not finding it moving in the way I do the last part of Morning Heroes or the Meditations on a Theme by John Blow or even parts of Miracle in the Gorbals and Adam Zero.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on June 28, 2020, 05:43:06 AM
Kyjo; You are not alone - by all accounts Elgar didn't like the Colour Symphony either, but it is one of my favourite Bliss works - to my ear it oozes with memorability  A few years ago the BBC used the scherzo as their theme for the Olympics coverage.  Listen to the smooching harmonies in "Green".  Bliss operates on a higher level of dissonance in his harmonic writing than most composers who you might otherwise group together.  Even things like the "Things to Come" march are not just a kind of latter day Pomp & Circumstance but something pretending confidence shot through with doubt - the harmony working against any 'comfortable' security.

The 3 main ballets (there's at least one other - the least well known Lady of Shallot) are all superb.  Sadly only Checkmate is still in the ballet repertoire in terms of being danced.  It is an incredibly powerful work seen staged - the denouement of the Red King being killed by the Black Queen is genius - especially in the original choreography.  I saw it many years ago at the Royal Opera House and it remains one of my most treasured performance memories.  I love the music of Miracle in the Gorbals.  The value of the Naxos recording is that it is complete - the only version.  But to get the spirit of the music Berglund in Bournemouth on EMI/Warner is better.  He gets the range of the moods more powerfully from threatening to joyful.  Its a rather dark story with evil triumphing over good - but in essence that is the theme behind all 3 of the Bliss ballets;  Death triumphs over Love in Checkmate; old age defeats youth and aspiration in Adam Zero and Evil over Good in "Miracle".  In Checkmate and "Adam" - the end of the ballets 're-set' - so there is hope.... of a kind.  "Miracle" is rather more bleak.

PS:  the original LP of "Miracle" from Berglund was coupled with the Arto Noras version of the Cello Concerto - and that remains my favourite version of that great work too.

Thanks for the extensive reply, RS. I totally agree with you about Bliss’ unique harmonic language which is unpredictable and subtly dissonant yet never abrasive. In some of his works, I find it a bit too elusive, but in others it’s wonderfully effective. Your descriptions of Checkmate and Miracle in the Gorbals have certainly piqued my interest! Well, in fact, I have heard the latter, but it’s been years and I don’t recall it very well.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on June 28, 2020, 05:47:16 AM
I've been listening to this new disc too.  The Rubbra impressed - exactly as you describe.  The Bliss has never engaged me as much as many of his other works - too self consciously barn-storming and trying to impress in a latter-day warhorse manner.  Good performances here - the Rubbra especially.  I think the Bliss is better served by Donahoe on Naxos who really goes for the big virtuosic manner.  May Song is a late Bax charmer - good performance again although I would also prefer Wass on Naxos if I had to choose one.  But its splitting hairs stuff.....

It’s hard for me to imagine Donohoe’s recording of the PC being bettered - his big-boned, percussive playing is ideally suited to the work. Also, great to hear that the Bax Maytime in Sussex is included on the new Hyperion disc - a lovely work.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on July 04, 2020, 02:49:22 AM
It’s hard for me to imagine Donohoe’s recording of the PC being bettered - his big-boned, percussive playing is ideally suited to the work. Also, great to hear that the Bax Maytime in Sussex is included on the new Hyperion disc - a lovely work.

I've been listening to this new Hyperion disc more.  The Bliss is a perfectly good version overall;  Piers Lane is excellent but I find the orchestra just a bit underpowered and reticent and Botstein an efficient but not inspiring 'leader'.  But I find that with most of his recordings - he is more inspired choosing the repertoire than he is performing it.  Can you think of a single recording where multiple versions exist where Botstein leads the field?  He's been lucky to work with good orchestras on good labels so the discs often sound very fine but strip that away and its pretty "penny-plain" (not sure if that is just a UK-centric phrase!)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on July 04, 2020, 02:58:51 AM
I've been listening to this new Hyperion disc more.  The Bliss is a perfectly good version overall;  Piers Lane is excellent but I find the orchestra just a bit underpowered and reticent and Botstein an efficient but not inspiring 'leader'.  But I find that with most of his recordings - he is more inspired choosing the repertoire than he is performing it.  Can you think of a single recording where multiple versions exist where Botstein leads the field?  He's been lucky to work with good orchestras on good labels so the discs often sound very fine but strip that away and its pretty "penny-plain" (not sure if that is just a UK-centric phrase!)
Good to hear your views. I rather like this recording of the Piano Concerto and also for the tribute to Churchill:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Symphonic Addict on February 24, 2021, 04:33:08 PM
I've been listening to Bliss' string quartets from the Naxos CDs. Some of his most rewarding and greatest works IMO. The 2nd is truly fantastic in its harmony, intensity and ferocity. I'd say it's a masterpiece. I'm glad I discovered these works.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on March 08, 2021, 10:54:33 AM
I've been listening to Bliss' string quartets from the Naxos CDs. Some of his most rewarding and greatest works IMO. The 2nd is truly fantastic in its harmony, intensity and ferocity. I'd say it's a masterpiece. I'm glad I discovered these works.

I only know the first quartet (which is great), so I definitely need to listen to the second! His Clarinet Quintet (coupled with the 2nd quartet on Naxos) is a fantastic work, full of rhythmic vigor and poignant harmonies. Bliss’ music is most often so satisfying to listen to - he doesn’t write instantly hummable tunes per se but there’s a certain fascination and unpredictability to his harmonic and rhythmic writing.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on March 14, 2021, 08:49:41 PM
Lately I've been blown away by Bliss' Music for Strings (1935), specifically the recording of it found in this stupendous new Chandos album:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71xjaGu9f1L._SY355_.jpg)

Bliss did this work no favors by giving it such a generic title. It's a work so full of life and vigor that grabs your attention right from the beginning and never lets go. And, goodness, do the Sinfonia of London under John Wilson play it to the hilt! They must be one of my current favorite orchestra/conductor combos along with Pittsburgh/Honeck and Bergen/Litton. The entire album is a must-hear for those interested in this repertoire. I hope they go on to record a sequel - I'd love to hear them in Tippett's roughly contemporary Concerto for Double String Orchestra, for instance.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 15, 2021, 05:38:28 AM
Lately I've been blown away by Bliss' Music for Strings (1935), specifically the recording of it found in this stupendous new Chandos album:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71xjaGu9f1L._SY355_.jpg)

Bliss did this work no favors by giving it such a generic title. It's a work so full of life and vigor that grabs your attention right from the beginning and never lets go. And, goodness, do the Sinfonia of London under John Wilson play it to the hilt! They must be one of my current favorite orchestra/conductor combos along with Pittsburgh/Honeck and Bergen/Litton. The entire album is a must-hear for those interested in this repertoire. I hope they go on to record a sequel - I'd love to hear them in Tippett's roughly contemporary Concerto for Double String Orchestra, for instance.
Yes, you're right about the title Kyle.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 15, 2021, 07:16:41 AM
Yes, you're right about the title Kyle.

When Vernon Handley conducted a birthday concert in Liverpool he got to choose the programme.  It included Bax Symphony 6 for sure and RVW Tudor Portraits (I think?). The third piece was the Bliss Music for Strings.  Its a really tricky piece to play and far from familiar - a combination that will always work against a work becoming fully appreciated.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on March 15, 2021, 07:52:34 AM
When Vernon Handley conducted a birthday concert in Liverpool he got to choose the programme.  It included Bax Symphony 6 for sure and RVW Tudor Portraits (I think?). The third piece was the Bliss Music for Strings.  Its a really tricky piece to play and far from familiar - a combination that will always work against a work becoming fully appreciated.
What a great programme!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 09, 2021, 10:52:06 PM
When Vernon Handley conducted a birthday concert in Liverpool he got to choose the programme.  It included Bax Symphony 6 for sure and RVW Tudor Portraits (I think?). The third piece was the Bliss Music for Strings.  Its a really tricky piece to play and far from familiar - a combination that will always work against a work becoming fully appreciated.
I've been listening to this marvellous CD with much pleasure. It features (IMO) the best performance of the 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow' (written for the CBSO in 1955) and a wonderful 'Music for Strings'. The old Penguin CD Guide described the Blow work, condescendingly, as 'amiable but rambling' although I think that it is one of Bliss's greatest works and very moving in places. The old Lyrita LP was a great classical discovery in my youth:

(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on June 10, 2021, 12:23:33 AM
I've been listening to this marvellous CD with much pleasure. It features (IMO) the best performance of the 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow' (written for the CBSO in 1955) and a wonderful 'Music for Strings'. The old Penguin CD Guide described the Blow work, condescendingly, as 'amiable but rambling' although I think that it is one of Bliss's greatest works and very moving in places. The old Lyrita LP was a great classical discovery in my youth:

(http://)

If ever a work was dammed by faint praise that is it.  I agree the Meditations are a superb work - but we've said this here before - I think that Bliss is generally underappreciated/respected.  I enjoy whole swathes of his music - not sure I can think of a single piece I dislike actually.  Even his fairly un-operatic opera "The Olympians" has some wonderful music in it.....
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on June 10, 2021, 09:21:34 AM
If ever a work was dammed by faint praise that is it.  I agree the Meditations are a superb work - but we've said this here before - I think that Bliss is generally underappreciated/respected.  I enjoy whole swathes of his music - not sure I can think of a single piece I dislike actually.  Even his fairly un-operatic opera "The Olympians" has some wonderful music in it.....
Still, it's nice to meet someone here who appreciates Bliss as well. 'Damned with faint praise' just about hits the nail on the head. Remember the oft-repeated suggestion that the most memorable piece that Bliss wrote was the 'March' from 'Things to Come' - what a load of rubbish! I don't even find the March the most memorable piece in 'Things to Come'!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: SonicMan46 on August 04, 2021, 11:34:29 AM
Well, I'm still reading the British Music book (nearly 500 pages, bottom row left) and about two-thirds through, just finishing the section on Arthur Bliss - I've gone through much of this thread and my really modest collection, i.e. just the top 4 CDs below - seems to be some 'mixed' feelings on some of his works, esp. A Colour Symphony, which I listened to yesterday and liked.  In fact, enjoyed nearly all of the works in my collection and decided to order two additional discs (bottom row).  Thanks for all of the useful and sometimes conflicting comments on Bliss.  Dave :)

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51vXdpAH4ML.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71-LCoy%2B50L._SL1200_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/715aWyjOG2L._SL1050_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71G0brKNt1L._SL1081_.jpg)

(https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/i-JtHqHLM/0/d97a46e9/O/BritishMusicBookV2.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71mAGqMhOKL._SL1058_.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51U%2Bngj1rQL.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on August 04, 2021, 12:48:51 PM
Well, I'm still reading the British Music book (nearly 500 pages, bottom row left) and about two-thirds through, just finishing the section on Arthur Bliss - I've gone through much of this thread and my really modest collection, i.e. just the top 4 CDs below - seems to be some 'mixed' feelings on some of his works, esp. A Colour Symphony, which I listened to yesterday and liked.  In fact, enjoyed nearly all of the works in my collection and decided to order two additional discs (bottom row).  Thanks for all of the useful and sometimes conflicting comments on Bliss.  Dave :)

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51vXdpAH4ML.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71-LCoy%2B50L._SL1200_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/715aWyjOG2L._SL1050_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71G0brKNt1L._SL1081_.jpg)

(https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/i-JtHqHLM/0/d97a46e9/O/BritishMusicBookV2.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71mAGqMhOKL._SL1058_.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51U%2Bngj1rQL.jpg)

I love the Colour Symphony.  The Hickox is good but not my favourite version.  For the violin concerto Campoli must be heard.  he was the dedicatee and also helped Bliss with the violin writing.  Campoli's sound is much more at the heart of this concerto than Mordkovitch although she is a very fine player.  The Naxos Cello conc disc is probably the weakest of the Naxos series - the Music for Strings is too hard for a Naxos-type read-record session.  Other discs on Naxos are very good - I love the complete Checkmate and Adam Zero Discs.  Miracle in the Gorbals you must hear Berglund.  Jeffrey's favourite is the Ringold/CBSO/Lyrita Meditations and that is a terrific disc.  Then there is Morning Heroes which is one of my all-time favourite - Groves in Liverpool is a 1st love and hard to beat.  Lastly - the film scores and of course Things to Come.  I always say Bliss is one of the most underated British composers - enjoy!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 04, 2021, 09:47:06 PM
Well, I'm still reading the British Music book (nearly 500 pages, bottom row left) and about two-thirds through, just finishing the section on Arthur Bliss - I've gone through much of this thread and my really modest collection, i.e. just the top 4 CDs below - seems to be some 'mixed' feelings on some of his works, esp. A Colour Symphony, which I listened to yesterday and liked.  In fact, enjoyed nearly all of the works in my collection and decided to order two additional discs (bottom row).  Thanks for all of the useful and sometimes conflicting comments on Bliss.  Dave :)

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51vXdpAH4ML.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71-LCoy%2B50L._SL1200_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/715aWyjOG2L._SL1050_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71G0brKNt1L._SL1081_.jpg)

(https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/i-JtHqHLM/0/d97a46e9/O/BritishMusicBookV2.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71mAGqMhOKL._SL1058_.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51U%2Bngj1rQL.jpg)
The Oboe Quintet is marvellous - his best chamber work IMO. The Naxos piano concertos CD is similarly terrific with the grand Piano Concerto uniquely AFAIK coupled with the most enjoyable Concerto for Two Pianos - so, great choices Dave!

I'd also recommend the lovely Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, Miracle in the Gorbals, Hymn to Apollo, Checkmate and Morning Heroes (Groves version).

Very much agree with RS's comments on Bliss.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: SonicMan46 on August 05, 2021, 07:52:30 AM
I love the Colour Symphony.  The Hickox is good but not my favourite version.  For the violin concerto Campoli must be heard.  he was the dedicatee and also helped Bliss with the violin writing.  Campoli's sound is much more at the heart of this concerto than Mordkovitch although she is a very fine player.  The Naxos Cello conc disc is probably the weakest of the Naxos series - the Music for Strings is too hard for a Naxos-type read-record session.  Other discs on Naxos are very good - I love the complete Checkmate and Adam Zero Discs.  Miracle in the Gorbals you must hear Berglund.  Jeffrey's favourite is the Ringold/CBSO/Lyrita Meditations and that is a terrific disc.  Then there is Morning Heroes which is one of my all-time favourite - Groves in Liverpool is a 1st love and hard to beat.  Lastly - the film scores and of course Things to Come.  I always say Bliss is one of the most underated British composers - enjoy!

Thanks RS for your comments - appears that I should look around for other versions of some of the pieces in my collection, such as the Colour Symphony - I'll check on Spotify to see if other recommendations mentioned here are available for a listen; also have been looking at some reviews (attached) - the comments are mixed, especially regarding the symphony, however, Tim Hugh and Lydia Mordkovitch received some good to excellent comments.  Dave :)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 05, 2021, 08:42:38 AM
Thanks RS for your comments - appears that I should look around for other versions of some of the pieces in my collection, such as the Colour Symphony - I'll check on Spotify to see if other recommendations mentioned here are available for a listen; also have been looking at some reviews (attached) - the comments are mixed, especially regarding the symphony, however, Tim Hugh and Lydia Mordkovitch received some good to excellent comments.  Dave :)
FWIW Groves' recording of A Colour Symphony is my favourite and I also think very highly of Bliss's own recording.
(http://)
PS I just noticed that the Bliss EMI/Warner boxed set has been reduced from £29 to £12 on Amazon UK - a very good bargain.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on August 05, 2021, 10:21:17 PM
FWIW Groves' recording of A Colour Symphony is my favourite and I also think very highly of Bliss's own recording.
(http://)
PS I just noticed that the Bliss EMI/Warner boxed set has been reduced from £29 to £12 on Amazon UK - a very good bargain.

+1 for Groves - a great performance but also recorded in wonderful vintage EMI analogue sound.  Grab that Warner set while its still so cheap - wonderful performances all....
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 06, 2021, 12:39:15 AM
+1 for Groves - a great performance but also recorded in wonderful vintage EMI analogue sound.  Grab that Warner set while its still so cheap - wonderful performances all....
I agree.
The odd thing about the set is that you get two performances of 'Music for Strings' and none at all of Meditations on a Theme by John Blow and Morning Heroes, although these are arguably Bliss's greatest works and both have been recorded by EMI. Still, the set does include the first CD release AFAIK of the Melos Ensemble's unrivalled performance of the Oboe Quintet.
I also bought this EP today. I still think that it's the best performance of the 'Things to Come Suite' and I couldn't resist the nostalgia trip of the record cover. Apparently it was the first film score to have an independent life away from the film.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on August 06, 2021, 06:47:25 AM
I agree.
The odd thing about the set is that you get two performances of 'Music for Strings' and none at all of Meditations on a Theme by John Blow and Morning Heroes, although these are arguably Bliss's greatest works and both have been recorded by EMI. Still, the set does include the first CD release AFAIK of the Melos Ensemble's unrivalled performance of the Oboe Quintet.
I also bought this EP today. I still think that it's the best performance of the 'Things to Come Suite' and I couldn't resist the nostalgia trip of the record cover. Apparently it was the first film score to have an independent life away from the film.

Blimey Jeffrey that is a blast from the past! The last EP I bought was circa 1964 (I still have it) - a misspent youth!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 06, 2021, 09:59:03 AM
Blimey Jeffrey that is a blast from the past! The last EP I bought was circa 1964 (I still have it) - a misspent youth!
OT
I once owned this Lol - probably worth a fortune now:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Irons on August 06, 2021, 11:07:54 PM
OT
I once owned this Lol - probably worth a fortune now:
(http://)

Not to be sniffed at, Jeffrey.

https://www.popsike.com/php/quicksearch.php?searchtext=Beatles+magical+&sortord=
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 06, 2021, 11:29:25 PM
Not to be sniffed at, Jeffrey.

https://www.popsike.com/php/quicksearch.php?searchtext=Beatles+magical+&sortord=

Interesting Lol. One of many records (Jimi Hendrix complete LPs boxed set) which I lent to people and never got back  :(
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 08, 2021, 06:06:17 AM
I've been playing this double album today. Bliss was a fine conductor of his own music and some of these performances are arguably definitive, albeit often in mono, including A Colour Symphony, the Violin Concerto, Introduction and Allegro and 'Things to Come' (in stereo).
I can't think of a better introduction to Bliss:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on August 29, 2021, 04:37:31 AM
How do you like Rumon Gamba's recording of Things to Come?  I think this is the most complete modern recording at 32 minutes.
(https://moviemusicuk.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/thingstocome.jpg)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 29, 2021, 05:02:51 AM
How do you like Rumon Gamba's recording of Things to Come?  I think this is the most complete modern recording at 32 minutes.
(https://moviemusicuk.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/thingstocome.jpg)
I greatly enjoyed it, although it's a while since I heard it. You're right about it being the most complete version of TTC. It includes 'Machines' but, as far as I recall, it is not played with the same urgency as in Bliss's own recording of the Suite from TTC, which remains my favourite version. As a whole, the Chandos CD is excellent. How about you?
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: kyjo on August 29, 2021, 07:25:50 AM
How do you like Rumon Gamba's recording of Things to Come?  I think this is the most complete modern recording at 32 minutes.
(https://moviemusicuk.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/thingstocome.jpg)

It’s great! This exciting and evocative score was a revelation to me.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on August 29, 2021, 03:20:58 PM
I greatly enjoyed it, although it's a while since I heard it. You're right about it being the most complete version of TTC. It includes 'Machines' but, as far as I recall, it is not played with the same urgency as in Bliss's own recording of the Suite from TTC, which remains my favourite version. As a whole, the Chandos CD is excellent. How about you?

You know me well enough to know there is no single version I love because the suites are so incomplete since the material was lost and has a very complex history (Muir Mathieson added the choral ending after Bliss was done as requested by HG Wells so should that be in the suite?  Depends who you ask and I find it a fantastic finish).  In short, I wish we had a full score reconstruction with modern recording.  I love Ruman Gamba's recording for it's scope, Herrmann's for it's operatic sweep, Mauceri/Hollywood for its grandeur, Bliss' for it's authenticity, but  Sir Charles Groves for its overall impact. 
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 29, 2021, 09:11:40 PM
You know me well enough to know there is no single version I love because the suites are so incomplete since the material was lost and has a very complex history (Muir Mathieson added the choral ending after Bliss was done as requested by HG Wells so should that be in the suite?  Depends who you ask and I find it a fantastic finish).  In short, I wish we had a full score reconstruction with modern recording.  I love Ruman Gamba's recording for it's scope, Herrmann's for it's operatic sweep, Mauceri/Hollywood for its grandeur, Bliss' for it's authenticity, but  Sir Charles Groves for its overall impact.
I agree with you about a full score reconstruction. I liked your final sentence statement on the virtues of the individual version - I just wish that Groves had included 'Machines'!
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: relm1 on August 30, 2021, 04:33:08 AM
I agree with you about a full score reconstruction. I liked your final sentence statement on the virtues of the individual version - I just wish that Groves had included 'Machines'!

I wonder why it was omitted since it was part of the suite published in 1940.  You might find this article interesting on the history and construction of the score.  I had no idea HG Wells was such a big part of the creative choices.

https://billsnedden.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/things-to-come-pre-concert-talk/
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on August 31, 2021, 08:47:03 PM
I wonder why it was omitted since it was part of the suite published in 1940.  You might find this article interesting on the history and construction of the score.  I had no idea HG Wells was such a big part of the creative choices.

https://billsnedden.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/things-to-come-pre-concert-talk/
Thanks very much Karim. I really look forward to reading it.
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on September 17, 2021, 09:44:51 PM
A work that I really enjoy is Bliss's :'Concerto for Two Pianos' - it is very short but highly memorable, inspiriting and enjoyable - haven't seen it mentioned much here. AFAIK there are two recordings - both excellent:


(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: vandermolen on October 19, 2021, 09:50:19 AM
I've been greatly enjoying the new Dutton CD of Bliss's late ballet 'The Lady of Shalott' (1958). This recording brings it alive to a much greater extent than the old BBC Radio Classics recording. It may not have the memorability of 'Checkmate', 'Miracle in the Gorbals' and 'Adam Zero' but the more reflective nature suits the subject matter and I wanted to hear it again as soon as it was finished. I'm very pleased to have this new CD of Bliss's music. The first British production (1975) involved a remarkable collaboration between the dancers from New Park Girl's School and the Leicestershire Schools SO. Bliss, who was right at the end of his life attended some of the rehearsals and we see him playing the piano, talking to the cast and the remarkable young dancer in the title role.

'Girl in a Broken Mirror':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDPNRmLO1Yw

PS Nice to see a different manifestation of the triumphant march from 'Christopher Columbus'.

One of my CDs of the year I think.

(http://)
Title: Re: Sir Arthur Bliss
Post by: Roasted Swan on October 20, 2021, 06:38:31 AM
I've been greatly enjoying the new Dutton CD of Bliss's late ballet 'The Lady of Shalott' (1958). This recording brings it alive to a much greater extent than the old BBC Radio Classics recording. It may not have the memorability of 'Checkmate', 'Miracle in the Gorbals' and 'Adam Zero' but the more reflective nature suits the subject matter and I wanted to hear it again as soon as it was finished. I'm very pleased to have this new CD of Bliss's music. The first British production (1975) involved a remarkable collaboration between the dancers from New Park Girl's School and the Leicestershire Schools SO. Bliss, who was right at the end of his life attended some of the rehearsals and we see him playing the piano, talking to the cast and the remarkable young dancer in the title role.

'Girl in a Broken Mirror':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDPNRmLO1Yw

PS Nice to see a different manifestation of the triumphant march from 'Christopher Columbus'.

One of my CDs of the year I think.

(http://)

excellent news - haven't managed to hear my copy yet!