Part 1: [untitled]
Part 2: [untitled]
Part 3: [untitled]
Part 4: [untitled]
Bantock was a man of enthusiasms, and once embarked on a classical phase he wrote a variety of orchestral works given the title of classical plays but in reality orchestral tone poems on them. This activity extended across the second half of his life and included Aristophanes’ Overture to a Greek Comedy (Thesmophoriazeusae, The Women’s Festival), The Frogs and The Birds, Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, and, one of Bantock’s last works, Euripides’ The Bacchanales. The Greek tragedy of Bantock’s score was Oedipus at Colonus, chronologically the third of Sophocles’ Theban Plays. Earlier, in the more familiar part of this cycle, the king had unwittingly killed his father and married his mother, had put out his own eyes in remorse and, after a long interlude, been exiled. In Oedipus at Colonus the blind and exiled Oedipus, now an old man, looked after by his younger daughter Antigone, is troubled by the scheming of his feuding sons and his former subjects. Oedipus dies having denounced his detractors and handed on to Theseus alone the knowledge of the place where he will die, which will provide a talisman for future security.
The music opens with a 5/4 fanfare-like idea, part baleful part heroic, and this ‘fate’ motif reappears towards the end recast in a heroic sun-set mould. Fast music quickly follows and is immediately elaborated, as if Bantock is almost looking back over the story so far, and eventually it leads to Antigone’s music, first heard on the magical combination of solo violin and four horns, which Bantock cannot resist elaborating as languorously as any of his love themes. Bantock catches the play’s blend of harshness and serenity with a fast middle section, presumably reflecting the chorus’s evocation of battle (‘Who would not wish to be / There when the enemy / Turns to give battle … / That were a sight to see’). The wide-spanning dying fall of the long closing section, as romantic as anything Bantock wrote, is very much an Edwardian vision of Oedipus’s final speech to Theseus, and the Messenger recounting Oedipus’s passing.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2003