Bantock, Granville - Omar Khayyám - Handley, Vernon

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"...ett okänt verk som knockare lyssnare"

"...en storslagen lyssnarupplevelse"

"Kör och orkester gör naturligtvis ingen besviken, och upptagningen från klassiska Watford Town Hall, numera Colosseum, är lyckad."

'It is tempting, though perhaps fatuous, to describe Granville Bantock as the musical Cecil B DeMille of his day. Yet certainly he had a mind for the epic, the colourful and the exotic. China, Ancient Greece and Arabia inspired him and the fact that he sometimes reached for forces (and durations) on a scale suitable to his mammoth subjects has probably not helped rescue him from his relative obscurity. Yet the first modern recording of his massive, three-hour choral spectacular Omar Khayyám is a triumph. A setting of the Rubáiyát, the verses of the Persian poet and astronomer Khayyám as translated by Edward Fitzgerald are rather gloomy to read (much fretting about death). But by goodness Bantock gives a sense of the glory of life, of love, of art itself and of the cosmos. If that sounds a bit much, there is nothing here that sounds overblown and so much that is brought to intense, vivid life. And which conductor would you rather have at the helm than that master of English music, Vernon Handley? He inspires his BBC forces and the soloists to magnificent heights, in a reading to match the ambition of the endeavour.'

Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Toby Spence, Roderick Williams
BBC Symphony Chorus; BBC Symphony Orchestra/Vernon Handley

Bantock succeeded Elgar as Peyton Professor at Birmingham University in 1908. During his time at Birmingham he developed an interest in large-scale choral composition, producing among other works his choral masterpiece Omar Khayyám. He had a true passion for all things eastern, launched into learning Persian and certainly owned Arabic books all his life. To a greater or lesser extent all his exotic interests find an outlet in his compositions.

Among the first fruits of his musical engagement with eastern culture was his setting of Edward FitzGerald’s very free translation of the rubáiyat of Omar Khayyám, the first part of which was first performed at the Birmingham Festival of 1906; the second followed at the Cardiff Festival of 1907 and the third at Birmingham in 1909. The overriding philosophy of the rubáiyat of Omar Khayyám, the eleventh-century Persian astronomer, mathematician and poet, who became known to a wider English-speaking public through FitzGerald’s translations, is the transience of existence, and the insignificance of the individual, whether high-born or lowly. Bantock’s underlying message is certainly also Omar Khayyám’s: ‘Waste not your hour.’ A notable literary phenomenon of Queen Victoria’s reign, FitzGerald’s quatrains were given a dramatic setting by Bantock who assigned verses variously to a large choir and three soloists. The tenor Toby Spence and the mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers here perform the parts of the Poet and the Beloved, to whom most of the verses dealing with love and beauty are allotted, while the baritone Roderick Williams sings the Philosopher, who generally has the more exclusively philosophical stanzas.

In addition to three soloists and large chorus, Bantock involves a large orchestra with two full string complements, arranged to the left and right of the conductor. In an atmospheric caravan scene Bantock also makes a feature of using authentic camel bells. For the BBC’s revival of the work in 1979, the conductor, the late Norman Del Mar, obtained authentic camel bells from Tunisia. For the present recording two have been kindly loaned by Del Mar’s son Jonathan, while the Bantock family has provided a third, used in the first performance of the work.

During the recording of Omar Khayyám the music made a considerable impact on the players and singers, who were amazed that such a monumental and deeply philosophical work had not been recorded before. The recording was certainly the fulfilment of a dream for Bantock’s grandson Cuillin, who had been pleased to discover that Omar Khayyám also was right at the top of the list of works which Ralph Couzens had long wished to record.

Artikelnummer CHSA5051
Streckkod 0095115505120
Utgivningsdatum 2007-09-17
Kategori Klassiskt
Skivbolag Chandos
Enhet SACD
Antal enheter 3
Artister Handley, Vernon
Dirigenter Handley, Vernon
Kompositörer Bantock, Granville
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