Hyperion Records

A Celtic Symphony
16 September 1940

'Bantock: Hebridean & Celtic Symphonies' (CDA66450)
Bantock: Hebridean & Celtic Symphonies
'Bantock: Orchestral Music' (CDS44281/6)
Bantock: Orchestral Music
MP3 £30.00FLAC £30.00ALAC £30.00Buy by post £33.00 CDS44281/6  6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Part 1: Lento sostenuto
Track 1 on CDA66450 [3'30]
Track 1 on CDS44281/6 CD1 [3'30] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 2: Allegro con fuoco
Track 2 on CDA66450 [7'10]
Track 2 on CDS44281/6 CD1 [7'10] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 3: Andante con tenerezza
Track 3 on CDA66450 [4'54]
Track 3 on CDS44281/6 CD1 [4'54] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 4: Port-a-Bial: Allegro con spirito
Track 4 on CDA66450 [1'28]
Track 4 on CDS44281/6 CD1 [1'28] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 5: Largamente maestoso
Track 5 on CDA66450 [2'59]
Track 5 on CDS44281/6 CD1 [2'59] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

A Celtic Symphony
Completed on 16 September 1940, the Celtic Symphony is a late work. But old age did not reduce Bantock’s visionary powers, nor modify his tendency to proceed on the grand scale. Though calling, modestly enough, for a string orchestra (divided usually into seven parts), Bantock then suggests that no fewer than six harps are to be preferred if the work is to make its proper effect. Such demands have undoubtedly prevented the symphony from assuming the place in the repertoire—alongside Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and Vaughan Williams’s ‘Tallis’ Fantasia—that its beauty and craftsmanship ought to have assured it.

Like most of Bantock’s Celtic works the symphony makes use of Hebridean folksong—as collected by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and published between 1909 and 1924. In this instance the song is ‘Sea-Longing’ (An Ionndrainn-Mhara), and its opening lines, ‘Sore sea-longing in my heart / Blue deep Barra waves are calling’, give a sufficient clue to the unstated programme that informs the work. Though it is presented as one continuous movement, the various sections correspond to the contrasts that are found in the normal symphony. A spacious slow introduction (Lento sostenuto), in which the lower strings whisper a brief, chant-like theme, leads to a vigorous section (Allegro con fuoco) in which a bold unison theme is offset by a theme of swooning, lyrical intensity. The slow introduction returns as herald to the equivalent of a symphony’s slow movement (Andante con tenerezza) built upon the yearning Hebridean folksong. This in turn gives way to a vigorous, scherzo-like section (Allegro con spirito) which explores, with Bartókian savagery, the energetic rhythms of a Highland reel before exploding into the final section (Largamente maestoso), a full-blooded and magnificent apotheosis of the chant-like theme from the slow introduction.

The work was dedicated to the conductor Clarence Raybould (one of Bantock’s earliest pupils) and seems to have received its first performance in a BBC broadcast in 1942.

from notes by Michael Hurd © 1991

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDS44281/6 disc 1 track 3
Part 3: Andante con tenerezza
Recording date
22 August 1990
Recording venue
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Bantock: Hebridean & Celtic Symphonies (CDA66450)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: February 1991
  2. Bantock: Orchestral Music (CDS44281/6)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: October 2007
    6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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