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Cat. No. CHAN 10439 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10439 - Dyson: Nebuchadnezzar/ Woodland Suite/Three Songs of Praise
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Available From: 01 October 2007
Chandos is pleased to announce the first recording ever of Sir George Dyson’s choral cantata Nebuchadnezzar, performed by the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra with Mark Padmore and Neal Davies, conducted by Richard Hickox. Composed in 1935 for the Worcester Festival, Dyson’s post-romantic work is dramatic, sumptuous, and richly melodic, recalling the work of Vaughan Williams, Howells and Bliss. Dyson achieved his greatest popularity in England during the 1930s and 1940s with large-scale pieces for chorus and orchestra such as In Honour of the City, The Canterbury Pilgrims and Nebuchadnezzar. Sadly, his work faded from view after 1950, but by the end of the century was being rediscovered by a new generation of audiences and performers.

After returning from several years of studies and travel in Europe in 1907, Dyson, thanks to Sir Hubert Parry, became the first Director of Music of the Royal Naval College, Osborne. The outbreak of World War I, however, had a profound effect on him. He left his post and enlisted. After a period of distinguished but shattering service in the trenches he was invalided out. He returned to the Royal College of Music, shaken and transformed. Fortunately, he recovered and after 1918 his career resumed almost where he had left it on the outbreak of war. In 1924 he was appointed head of the music department at Winchester College and it was during the ensuing years that he began writing the choral works that would make him famous.

Dyson took the text for Nebuchadnezzar from the Book of Daniel, incorporating the ‘Song of the Three Holy Children’ from the Apocrypha. Emulating Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Dyson set the story in four parts. In the first three the music tells the well-known biblical story of the Jews Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the burning fiery furnace, while the fourth is a more conventional hymn of praise, ‘All the works of the Lord, Bless Ye the Lord’ – the Benedicite. The tenor Mark Padmore sings the Herald, and Nebuchadnezzar is sung by the bass-baritone Neal Davies.

This superb performance further demonstrates Richard Hickox’s understanding for Dyson and follows The Canterbury Pilgrims and Quo Vadis in the Chandos discography.

This is the first recording, and Dyson is lucky because it is outstanding. There are no comparisons to make, but can you imagine abetter tenor than Mark Padmore or a better bass than Neal Davies for this music? Do you know a chorus that would sing it better than the BBC Chorus? Is there a conductor who could make it more gripping than Mr Hickox does? No, it is quite wonderful… The Chandos sound is superb.
American Record Guide

It’s beautifully played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Richard Hickox, and the choral singing is particularly thrilling. The disc also includes a number of Dyson’s shorter pieces, most of them fairly slight, though the Three Songs of Praise – setting of English metaphysical poetry – are exquisite
The Guardian

Enthusiasts for this composer need not hesitate – performances and recordings are first-rate.
International Record Review

Hickox’s reading is direct and dramatic, though he also indulges the more impressionistic moods at the piece’s heart, while the BBC Symphony Chorus provides wholesome body to the narrative. Two coronation anthems, a triptych of hymns and a pastoral suite for chamber orchestra complete this worthwhile disc.


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