Hyperion Records

28 November 1920; subsequently re-orchestrated in 1944 as part of Two Hebridean Sea Poems

'Bantock: Orchestral Music' (CDS44281/6)
Bantock: Orchestral Music
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'Bantock: Thalaba the Destroyer & other orchestral works' (CDA67250)
Bantock: Thalaba the Destroyer & other orchestral works
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67250  Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6  
Track 4 on CDA67250 [9'31] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 4 on CDS44281/6 CD5 [9'31] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Marjory Kennedy-Fraser published her first volume of Hebridean songs in 1907 and Bantock was hooked almost from the start. He was particularly involved in the compilation of her second volume which was published in 1917, and to which he contributes a high-flown and ecstatic introduction describing a visit to the islands in summer. Bantock used these tunes in various works, notably his Hebridean Symphony first performed in 1916, and his chamber opera The Seal Woman first seen in Birmingham in 1923.

Caristiona is a setting for small orchestra of the song of the same name from Kennedy-Fraser’s second volume. Caristiona is noted as collected by Frances Tolmie with words collected by Kenneth Macleod, and Bantock prefaces his score with Macleod’s summary of the story.

The Lady of Clanranald sat on the shore of Moydart watching the setting sun, and as she watched, she saw with the keen eye of a mother’s love and a mother’s pain, two ships sailing through the Western Sea. From the one, though sailing seaward, came the sounds of harping and of song, and of a bride’s laugh that was sweeter than both – while from the mast-top waved the Clanranald badge, a spray of purple heather, fresh with the bloom of the hillside. From the other ship, though sailing homeward, came the sound of the croon and the keening for the dead – the bride of yesterday – the one-no-more of tonight – while from the mast-top drooped and withered a spray of purple heather.
Behind the Bens of Rûm the sun had set, but the Lady of Clanranald sat on the shore of Moydart, wailing a mother’s wound to the night and the sea.
O Caristiona – answer my cry –
No answer tonight – the wound! The wound!
But only the night-hag answered, and the far-away keening of the western sea.

Bantock’s manuscript is dated ‘Birmingham 28 November 1920’, but was later revised and re-orchestrated in January 1944, with Bantock’s orchestral setting of The Sea Reivers, as Two Hebridean Sea Poems in response to Sir Henry Wood’s invitation for a work for the 1944 Proms. Here we play the original version for a small orchestra of double wind, four horns, trumpet, harp, percussion and strings.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2001

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