Bantock: The Cyprian Goddess & other orchestral works
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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