Hyperion Records

Dante and Beatrice
composer
Poem for orchestra, 1901, revised 1910

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
Track 19 on CDA66810 [25'00] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 19 on CDS44281/6 CD3 [25'00] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Dante and Beatrice
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Dante and Beatrice was originally written (as Tone Poem No 2) in the summer of 1901 and performed at New Brighton and also in Birmingham at a Halford Concert. A commentator on the first version, which is now lost, pointed out that when Bantock revised it (the new score is dated 31 July 1910), little alteration was made in the music apart from the blending of the sections into a continuous fabric. The early version was in six sections, and it may be helpful to have the titles as a guide to the main episodes in the later version. These were: ‘Dante’, ‘Strife of Guelphs and Ghibellines’, ‘Beatrice’, ‘Dante’s vision of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven’, ‘Dante’s exile’, and ‘Death’. In the revision of 1910 recorded here, Bantock styles his score a ‘psychological study’ intending to evoke states of mind rather than describe individual episodes in detail.

The music opens with an introduction which presents the two important themes—Dante’s quietly in unison and, after a climax, Beatrice’s theme appears against a yearning extension of Dante’s motif. The themes are developed as finally they are combined. At the climax of the development the music becomes wilder—firmly based on diminished sevenths—with a cataclysmic outburst, the depiction of the ‘Vision of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven’ in the earlier version. This leads to the extended lyrical closing section of the work, the chromatic harmony and brilliant handling of a large orchestra creating an ecstatic mood distinctive of its time. Soon Dante hears of Beatrice’s death (‘poignant grief’) and dies still transfigured by his love for her. Dedicated ‘To my friend Henry J Wood’, the score is prefaced by the quotation ‘L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle’ (‘The love that moves the sun and the other stars’) from Il Paradiso. The first performance was at Queen’s Hall on 24 May 1911 during the London Music Festival in the Coronation season. It cannot have been entirely satisfactory for Bantock as it was the same concert in which Elgar’s Second Symphony was first heard. Ticket prices were sky-high and the critics were there to hear Elgar—about whom they wrote at length—and not his illustrious Birmingham contemporary.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 1995

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