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Hyperion Records

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The Road from Arras to Bapaume (1917) by Christopher Richard Wayne Nevinson (1889-1946)
Imperial War Museum, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55464
Recording details: December 2001
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by John Timperley
Release date: June 2002
Total duration: 11 minutes 4 seconds

'A fascinating and rewarding discovery … performances, production and presentation are all past praise, and this is a disc already earmarked for my Critics’ Choice come the year’s end' (Gramophone)

'Excellent singing and committed playing on this disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It surely deserves a place in the repertory: English music has nothing quite like it' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'This handsomely presented disc is a rarity worth investigating' (The Observer)

'Coles’s own orchestral skills are amply demonstrated by the lush, full-bodied playing of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Coles emerges as one of the great lost hopes of British music' (The Independent)

'The six pieces recorded here justify the mourning of an unfulfilled talent' (International Record Review)

'I listened to it this week, and was moved to something dangerously adjacent to tears … what you chiefly hear in Coles’s compositions is nobility, haunting beauty and a strange, almost prophetic sense of tragedy’ (The Times)

'The works here show the power and intensity of a major talent' (Classic FM Magazine)

'My reactions to the music, even after listening to the disc for some weeks, still oscillate between amazement, melancholy, and gratitude, although they are gradually melding into a fusion of all three. I don’t doubt that it will affect you too' (Fanfare, USA)

'His music, touched by post-echoes of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Wagner, yet speaking unmistakably in its own accent, lives on in this outstandingly recorded new issue' (HMV Choice)

'The work’s surviving fragments receive their premiere recording on this Hyperion disc, which sees Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony doing a terrific job on behalf of the composer' (Music Week)

'The music is solemn, poignant and majestic in conductor Brabbins’ orchestration … a genius? Yes, I think so. A great loss to music? Absolutely' (MusicWeb International)

'Dedicated performances beautifully recorded and fervently commended' (Yorkshire Post)

'Hyperion Records are to be applauded for resurrecting Behind the lines and the other works included here … all is beautifully played and sung, and warmly recommended' (The Western Front Association)

'Les interprétations de Brabbins sont proches de l’idéal et les musiciens écossais servent leur compatriote avec ferveur et précision' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)

Overture 'The Comedy of Errors'
1911; Die Komödie der Irrungen

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The broad spectrum of emotions—ranging from tragedy to high comedy—that inhabits the pages of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors clearly appealed to Coles when he chose to portray something of its intricate matrix of misunderstandings, mistaken identities, reversals of fortune, and dramatic recognitions in his one and only concert overture. The opening of the work reminds us of Coles’s enthusiasm for Wagner. The ‘spear’ motif, so prominent as a symbol of Wotan’s will in Das Rheingold, was surely the inspiration behind the sinister opening brass fanfare, an idea which vividly represents the impending death sentence that awaits Aegeon, merchant of Syracuse, unless he can pay a substantial fine. As a powerful foil to Aegeon’s introductory music (which is strikingly redolent of Mahler), the opening viola theme of the Allegro is bustling and jocular. Depicted here are surely the farcical antics of the two twins (both named Antipholus) and their slaves (Dromio) which become more intense in the developmental phase of the work. A more feminine second subject, winsomely lyrical and expansively Straussian in its generous contours and lush, chromatically-shifting progres­sions, is ushered in by a passionate transition for violin solo. This surely projects an endearing image of Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus who suffers so much confusion with the unexpected appearance of her husband’s look-alike brother, Antipholus of Syracuse. A further feminine thematic episode (in the submediant) occurs towards the end of the lively and discursive development, which, by its location and dignity, probably represents the entrance of Aemilia, Lady Abbess of Ephesus (Aegeon’s long lost wife) and her chastisement of Adriana, who, believing her husband to be mad, has com­mit­ted him to prison.

The tonal turbulence that follows summarizes the sense of torment and confusion experienced by all the main protago­nists, but, signalled by the horns’ ominous restatement of the fanfare, we are reminded of Aegeon’s impending punishment. This point marks the beginning of a much-transformed recapi­tulation. The bustling theme, heard concurrently in diminished and augmented form (in a manner not dissimilar to the corres­ponding section of Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger) is reworked into a polyphonic accompaniment as support for a solemn chorale in the brass and wind. This is the solemn march of the Duke of Ephesus and his party who return to resolve Aegeon’s fate. Their presence triggers a spate of anagnorisis in the animated restatement of the second subject and exhila­rating coda; here all the characters are reconciled, Aegeon is freely pardoned (in a last statement of the fanfare), and his family is restored to him in a final gesture of elation and joy.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2002

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