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Hyperion Records

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Morning after a stormy night (detail) (1819) by Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (1788-1857)
Track(s) taken from CDA66450
Recording details: August 1990
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: February 1991
Total duration: 20 minutes 1 seconds

'Magnificently recorded and performed. When audiences are crying out for 'melodious music' how can such music as this have been ignored for so long?' (Gramophone)

'A towering classic, as important as a landmark in the rediscovery of British music as it is a monument to the technique of orchestral recording. Music, performance, recorded sound and notes are all superb' (International Record Review)

'…the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performs magnificently from beginning to end, coupling elegance, eloquence, passion, and poser with Hyperion's fastidious sound in a way that compels admiration from the listener for conductor, ensemble and composer alike. Handley's is the definitive version of the Hebridean Symphony, outstripping that available on Naxos in every regard, and with the other works on this disc to further commend it, this release sails effortlessly into port as the newest inductee into Fanfare's Classical Hall of Fame. (Fanfare, USA)

'The best Bantock record I have ever heard' (CDReview)

'Superb’ (

'Ce disque superbe ravira les mélomanes romantiques curieux' (Répertoire, France)

A Celtic Symphony
16 September 1940

Lento sostenuto  [3'30]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Completed on 16 September 1940, the Celtic Symphony is a late work. But old age did not reduce Bantock’s visionary powers, nor modify his tendency to proceed on the grand scale. Though calling, modestly enough, for a string orchestra (divided usually into seven parts), Bantock then suggests that no fewer than six harps are to be preferred if the work is to make its proper effect. Such demands have undoubtedly prevented the symphony from assuming the place in the repertoire—alongside Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and Vaughan Williams’s ‘Tallis’ Fantasia—that its beauty and craftsmanship ought to have assured it.

Like most of Bantock’s Celtic works the symphony makes use of Hebridean folksong—as collected by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and published between 1909 and 1924. In this instance the song is ‘Sea-Longing’ (An Ionndrainn-Mhara), and its opening lines, ‘Sore sea-longing in my heart / Blue deep Barra waves are calling’, give a sufficient clue to the unstated programme that informs the work. Though it is presented as one continuous movement, the various sections correspond to the contrasts that are found in the normal symphony. A spacious slow introduction (Lento sostenuto), in which the lower strings whisper a brief, chant-like theme, leads to a vigorous section (Allegro con fuoco) in which a bold unison theme is offset by a theme of swooning, lyrical intensity. The slow introduction returns as herald to the equivalent of a symphony’s slow movement (Andante con tenerezza) built upon the yearning Hebridean folksong. This in turn gives way to a vigorous, scherzo-like section (Allegro con spirito) which explores, with Bartókian savagery, the energetic rhythms of a Highland reel before exploding into the final section (Largamente maestoso), a full-blooded and magnificent apotheosis of the chant-like theme from the slow introduction.

The work was dedicated to the conductor Clarence Raybould (one of Bantock’s earliest pupils) and seems to have received its first performance in a BBC broadcast in 1942.

from notes by Michael Hurd © 1991

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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