This program includes some of the least known masterpieces from Ernest Bloch’s nearly 30 works for orchestra. Macbeth: Two Symphonic Interludes is an intoxicating and passionate distillation of Shakespeare’s powerful drama. In Memoriam is a brief elegy dedicated to the pianist Ada Clement, while the Three Jewish Poems were written when Bloch was mourning the death of his father. Originally conceived as a third concerto grosso, Bloch’s last Symphony, in E flat major, is at times emotionally turbulent and deeply spiritual work containing passages of harmonic acerbity.
Ernest Chausson’s death in 1899 in a bicycle accident robbed French music of a major talent. Almost his entire orchestral output fits on this extremely fine CD. Yan Pascal Tortelier’s performance of the richly romantic Symphony is the best since Munch’s Boston Symphony recording. Like Munch, Tortelier knows how to keep the music moving along–he’s only an insignificant two minutes slower than Munch for the whole work–without overindulging the more luscious moments, which in Chausson’s opulent setting really do take care of themselves. Even better, rather than some overplayed encore piece by another composer, the symphony is coupled with two very attractive, rarely heard tone poems and two charming orchestral excerpts from the composer’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The orchestra plays with conviction, Chandos’ sonics are gorgeous, and if you don’t buy this disc, you’re missing out on some marvelous stuff.
34 songs from the famous Songs of the Hebrides collection by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser published in the early years of this century. There are some extraordinarily beautiful songs here (Ernest Newman wrote of them that Schubert and Hugo Wolf would have knelt and kissed the hands of their unknown composers). The most famous song in the collection is the Eriskay Love Lilt but several of the others will be familiar to anybody who has bought our Bantock recordings: Sea Longing was the inspiration for the slow movement of the Celtic Symphony, and Kishmul's Galley is the tune blazed out by the Royal Philharmonic horns at the end of the Hebridean Symphony.
Julia Fischer follows her extraordinary Grammy-nominated recording of the Paganini Caprices with a contrasting album - a lyrical and poetic set of impressionistic works for violin and orchestra.