20th Century Orchestral & Vocal Works

Author: 
Edward Greenfield

20th Century Orchestral & Vocal Works

  • Façade, Suite No. 1, Polka
  • Façade, Suite No. 2, Popular Song
  • Bachianas brasileiras No. 5, Aria: Cantilena
  • (El) Amor Brujo, Ritual Fire Dance
  • (3) Gymnopédies, Lent et douloureux
  • (3) Gymnopédies, Lent et grave
  • On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring
  • Vocalise
  • Fantasia on 'Greensleeves'
  • Chants d'Auvergne, Baïlèro
  • Adagio for Strings
  • Simple Symphony, Playful Pizzicato

Recorded in vivid sound, this makes an attractive collection of twentieth-century popular classics, whether or not primarily designed for the aural wallpaper market rather than for Gramophone readers. The layout makes it even more of a mixed bag than the list of works might suggest with the Walton and Satie items separated from each other. Lionel Salter's note is a model of its kind, lively and informative, finding pointful links between a very mixed bag of pieces. So he emphasizes that the Walton, the Britten and the Barber were all among the composers' early works. Otherwise presentation may be judged by the fact that the Greensleeves Fantasia is attributed on the cover to ''Williams''.
Under Sir Neville the playing of the Academy is as immaculate as ever, consistently refined and polished, but with readings kept direct and unmannered. ''Popular Song'' at the very start might have lifted more winningly, had it been taken a fraction faster, but with crisp rhythms in fast pieces and a fresh, unsentimental view in the lyrical ones, this is admirable as a collection of lollipops. There may have been more evocative versions of the Delius, but this strikes me as more warmly committed than Marriner's earlier Argo version. Karita Mattila appears in only two items, but those are the two most sensuous, the Villa-Lobos Bachianas brasileiras No. 5 ('No. 5' omitted from the information on the cover) and the Canteloube Bailero. The beauty of the voice, with its warm, pronounced vibrato is best appreciated at high volume. With such ill and immediate sound this will for many make an excellent, well-varied demonstration record.'

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