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Hyperion Records

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A View of the Nile above Aswan by Edward Lear (1812-1888)
Sotheby’s Picture Library
Track(s) taken from CDA67250
Recording details: February 2001
Walthamstow Assembly Halls, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: November 2001
Total duration: 14 minutes 40 seconds

'Another exemplary addition to Handley's absorbing Bantock series … Hearty thanks to all involved in this enterprising labour of love' (Gramophone)

'The heady soundscapes and chromatic opulence all make for a good wallow … gorgeous from start to finish' (The Guardian)

'His orchestration is fabulously colourful, his melodies strong and memorable, and his sense of drama would make Hollywood composers envious … Caristiona is hauntingly beautiful, Omar Khayyam is full of exotic allure (with real camel bells), and Thalaba may be hokum, but of the best quality. Stunning performances' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Another fine addition to the Bantock discography' (Fanfare, USA)

? 1893; originally entitled 'The Funeral' and part of a cycle based on Southey's 'The curse of Kehama'; subsequently published in 1912 as part of 'Two orchestral scenes'

Processional  [14'40]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Possibly dating from 1893, Processional really constitutes Bantock launching himself on his first large-scale project – a cycle of 24 poems (described on the printed piano score of the first part as ‘Eine Symphonie in 24 Abtheilungen’) founded on Robert Southey’s poetic epic The Curse of Kehama set in a mythological Indian setting, and first published in 1810. Southey, the least known of the Lake Poets, wrote the first biography of Nelson and became Poet Laureate in 1813.

Bantock’s music was first published in piano score by Breitkopf & Härtel in August 1894 under the title The Funeral, and this title gives us the clue to Bantock’s programme from the first part of Southey’s epic poetic cycle. Bantock is reputed to have completed fourteen of Southey’s twenty-four scenes, but only a quarter of his cycle seems to survive, and only two movements, this and the fourteenth, Jaga-Naut, later reappeared and were revised and published in 1912 as Two Orchestral Scenes. After it was first performed in Bantock’s orchestral concert at Queen’s Hall on 15 December 1896, it was heard again by the Worcestershire Philharmonic in May 1900, conducted by none other than Elgar, who was in the middle of writing Gerontius! The two were played together in their un-revised version by Halford in Birmingham in 1902 and by Dan Godfrey at Bournemouth in March 1903, Godfrey later giving the revised version of The Funeral – now called Processional – in March 1912, soon after it was published by Breitkopf.

In this work Bantock makes one of his first of many evocations of the east, here an Indian setting where he evokes the torchlight procession of the body of Arvalan, the Rajah Kehama’s son, replete (in Southey’s words) with ‘horn, and trump, and tambour; / Incessant as the roar / Of streams which down the wintry mountain pour’. Bantock asks for a large orchestra and has his violins divided into three sections rather than the usual two.

After the massive, forcefully insistent music of the march, a contrasted melody represents the wives and followers of the deceased who are forced to commit suttee and be burned alive with the corpse:

At once on every side
the circling torches drop
At once of every side
the fragrant oil is pour’d
At once on every side
the rapid flames rush up.
Then hand in hand the victim band
Roll in the dance around the funeral pyre;
… The tambours and trumpets sound;
And clap of hand, and shouts, and cries,
From all the multitude arise
… Till one by one whirl’d in they fall
And the devouring flames have swallow’d all.

Bantock sets it all – as does Southey – as a colourful and exotic spectacle, vividly evoked, but without any thought for the ultimate horror of the scene.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2001

Other albums featuring this work
'Bantock: Orchestral Music' (CDS44281/6)
Bantock: Orchestral Music
MP3 £30.00FLAC £30.00ALAC £30.00Buy by post £33.00 CDS44281/6  6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
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