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Cat. No. CHAN 10221 X Price: £4 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10221 - Bliss: A Colour Symphony/ The Enchantress/Cello Concerto
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Available From: 09 August 2004
A Colour Symphony was Bliss’s first major orchestral work, and its success did much to establish the composer’s reputation. It was written to a commission from the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival. For some time Bliss was uncertain about the nature of the piece, but coming across a book on heraldry and the symbolical associations ascribed to various colours, he seized on the idea for inspiration. What he had learned from Elgar and Stravinsky is apparent in the work’s masterly orchestration; Stravinsky’s influence has also been absorbed in the frequent dissonance, as has the pomp and circumstance pageantry of Elgar. Evidence of contact with Milhaud and ‘Les Six’ may be heard in the moments of piquant bi-tonality in the finale, whereas the ‘blues’ harmony at the conclusion of the scherzo’s second trio is a reminder that jazz was the popular music of the day.

The Enchantress is a scena for solo voice and orchestra. The text is a free adaptation of the Second Idyll of Theocritus, in which the jilted Simaetha woos back her lover, Delphis, by witchcraft. The resultant text allowed Bliss to create an ideal dramatic vehicle for Kathleen Ferrier, to whom the work is dedicated.

The Cello Concerto belongs to a late harvest of works that Bliss wrote during the last decade of his life. Undoubtedly its virtuoso solo part reflects that it had been requested by Mstislav Rostropovich, to whom it is dedicated ‘with admiration and gratitude’. Bliss originally designated the work a ‘Concertino’ as he felt it was a lighthearted piece. However, Benjamin Britten, who conducted the work’s first performance at Aldeburgh in 1970, pronounced it a major work and persuaded Bliss to alter its title to ‘Concerto’.
Reviews

Strongly recommended to all who love 20th Century British Music.
American Record Guide

Chandoss generous compilation is an ideal introduction to his music… the Ulster Orchestra is outstanding and, as ever, Chandos engineering produces a luxurious sound, highlighting the brilliance and richness of Blisss orchestration.
BBC Music Magazine

Listening to Raphael Wallfischs superb performance of the Cello Concerto, for instance, I found myself constantly exclaiming “Why dont we hear this work all the time?”
Gramophone

…a quite excellent realisation of the score; it is objective yet compelling and completely satisfying.
Gramophone

 

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