Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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Somervell was best known in his lifetime for his songs and song cycles, the latter including the first setting of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, Tennyson’s Maud and Browning’s James Lee’s Wife and A Broken Arc. Celebrity also came in his thirties for choral works written for the festivals of the day, including The Forsaken Merman (Leeds, 1895), The Power of Sound (Kendal, 1895), Ode to the Sea (Birmingham, 1897) and Intimations of Immortality (Leeds, 1907). In 1917 he produced To the Vanguard in tribute to the events of the war, prefaced with words from ‘The Retreat from Mons’, and in 1926 the delightful Yuletide cantata Christmas. Just occasionally one of these might be revived by a local choral society, but completely superseded are his half-dozen once-popular children’s operettas on fairy-tale subjects.
Somervell’s range of orchestral music is not huge, but includes the orchestral ballad Helen of Kirconnell, an overture Young April, a five-movement suite for small orchestra In Arcady, and the Symphony in D minor, Thalassa, with its notable slow movement entitled ‘Lost in Action’. Though the latter is in fact a memorial to the ill-fated Captain Scott, then recently lost in the Antarctic, this title ensured its regular stand-alone performance during the First World War. There is also a Concertstück for violin and orchestra from 1913, a Piano Concerto, and a late Violin Concerto, very much in thrall to Vaughan Williams (recorded on).
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2011