Hyperion Records

Helena Variations
composer
orchestral variations on the the HFB

Recordings
'Bantock: Orchestral Music' (CDS44281/6)
Bantock: Orchestral Music
Buy by post £33.00 CDS44281/6  6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Bantock: The Cyprian Goddess & other orchestral works' (CDA66810)
Bantock: The Cyprian Goddess & other orchestral works
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66810  Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6   Download currently discounted
Details
Theme: Lento molto
Track 6 on CDA66810 [1'51] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 6 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'51] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 01: Allegro molto con fuoco
Track 7 on CDA66810 [0'45] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 7 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [0'45] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 02: Poco tranquillo
Track 8 on CDA66810 [0'52] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 8 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [0'52] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 03: Allegretto scherzando
Track 9 on CDA66810 [1'56] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 9 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'56] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 04: Molto moderato quasi religioso
Track 10 on CDA66810 [0'42] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 10 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [0'42] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 05: Capriccioso
Track 11 on CDA66810 [1'17] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 11 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'17] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 06: Poco agitato
Track 12 on CDA66810 [1'01] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 12 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'01] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 07: Lento molto e sostenuto
Track 13 on CDA66810 [1'44] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 13 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'44] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 08: Con moto affettuoso
Track 14 on CDA66810 [1'27] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 14 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'27] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 09: Allegro impetuoso
Track 15 on CDA66810 [1'01] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 15 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'01] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 10: Non pi¨ Allegro
Track 16 on CDA66810 [1'32] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 16 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [1'32] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 11: Andante doloroso
Track 17 on CDA66810 [2'01] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 17 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [2'01] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 12: Finale. Allegro appassionato
Track 18 on CDA66810 [3'09] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 18 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [3'09] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Helena Variations
EnglishFranšaisDeutsch
One March afternoon in 1896 the twenty-eight-year-old Helena von Schweitzer called to have tea with an old lady. There was a third guest: ‘His head was leonine, with its massive formation and tawny colouring, and his eyes were remarkable, scintillating with vivid life, windows to an intense inner existence. He was massive in build also, and golden-bearded at a time when all the fashionable men-about-town were moustachioed with monotonous regularity.’ Thus Granville Bantock’s future wife later remembered how she first met her husband. She went on to describe his polymath interests: ‘The talk was as unconventional as the surroundings were prosaic. It fell on the ears of one listener like the sound of water on a parched land. Science, literature, art and travel were discussed in a broad-minded spirit, very foreign to that period of many taboos. The hostess drew the shy listener into the conversation, and at the end of this miniature symposium, she found herself committed to the task of writing thirty-six lyrics, to be set to music by the young composer, for such he was’ … ‘On a slip of paper he sketched out his scheme for a series of thirty-six Songs of the East, each set of six to be devoted to an oriental country. He would provide books on the subject, further discussion was arranged for the following week, and the whole was completed with tornado-like swiftness which soon became familiar.’

They were married in 1898, and the following year he wrote Helena, variations on a theme derived from the initials of his wife’s name (HFB: in German musical notation, B natural, F, B flat). The piano score is dated 27 October 1899; Granville and Helena were both thirty-one. In less than a year the music was published by Breitkopf & Härtel. Printed on the flyleaf the composer wrote: ‘Dearest Wife! Accept these little Variations with all my heart’s love. They are intended as an expression of my thoughts and reflections on some of your moods during a wearisome absence from each other.’

Elgar’s Enigma Variations had been first performed in London on 19 June 1899 and created a great stir. Bantock had invited Elgar to conduct a concert with his orchestra at New Brighton, and soon afterwards Edward and Alice Elgar (not yet Lady Elgar) came to stay; Elgar’s wife would have been fifty. Helena Bantock noted with astonishment ‘no less than seven hot water bottles being filled for his bed, on the occasion of Elgar complaining of a slight chill’. On 16 July Elgar conducted the concert, including Enigma, and one cannot imagine Bantock being other than thrilled. It seems highly probable that Bantock then impulsively set out to write his own variations, albeit based Pauline-like on his wife’s moods rather than his various friends. It was his first orchestral work in his mature style. Could it be that in emulating Elgar by ending in high spirits it was not only Helena he was celebrating in the Finale. First performed in Antwerp on 21 February 1900 where Bantock had been asked to conduct a concert of British music, the Variations received their first British performance, conducted by the composer, on 25 March in the Philharmonic Hall Liverpool.

from notes by Lewis Foreman ę 1995

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA66810 track 8
Variation 2: Poco tranquillo
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-95-81008
Duration
0'52
Recording date
17 May 1995
Recording venue
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Bantock: The Cyprian Goddess & other orchestral works (CDA66810)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: October 1995
    Deletion date: February 2011
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
  2. Bantock: Orchestral Music (CDS44281/6)
    Disc 3 Track 8
    Release date: October 2007
    6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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