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TIPPETT: Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles; Little Music for Strings; Fan
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Audio CD, CD, 23 May 2006
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- Product Dimensions : 14.2 x 12.4 x 1.09 cm; 85.9 Grams
- Manufacturer : LHUJW
- Item Model Number : 028947679608
- Original Release Date : 2006
- Run time : 1 hour and 13 minutes
- Label : LHUJW
- ASIN : B000FIHMGW
- Country of origin : Australia
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
Tippett never hesitated to go his own way. He was expelled from grammar school for attempting to convert his friends to atheism, espoused Trotskyism, and, in 1943, was jailed for three months as a conscientious objector. Tippett's time would come, however, and by the 1960s and 70s, thanks to younger interpreters such as Colin Davis, who were unfazed by the supposed technical and stylistic 'difficulty' of his music. He was knighted in 1966. This collection includes the much requested first release on CD of Davis' charming and beautifully realized Philips recording of the Suite in D for the birthday of Prince Charles as well as three virtuoso performances of music for strings with Marriner and the Academy.
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The FANFARE has a bright neo-17th century sheen to it. Gabrieli may not have recognized the harmonies, but I cannot imagine him disapproving, especially when it is played with this much warmth and precision.
The two works written for string ensemble in homage of the 17th century, THE FANTASIA CONCERTANTE ON A THEME OF CORELLI and the LITTLE SUITE, are also beautifully played. I am familiar with a half-dozen recordings of both these compositions from the days of lp through the latest digital recordings, and no one captures the beauty or intricacy of these compositions better than Marriner in these decades-old analogue performance from Argo. The sound of the strings is warm, yet clear with each sinuous line given definition, and each tutti lent the proper depth. The rapture of the interweaving instruments at the climax of the FANTASIA has never sounded clearer or more rapturous than it does here.
The only performance on this disc I find less than fully satisfying - and I have felt this way since first hearing it on lp during my college years in the 1970s - is the CONCERTO FOR DOUBLE STRING ORCHESTRA. The strings of the Academy of St. Martin's in the Field, again, play with great beauty and sensitivity. The sound, again, is marvelously clear. Nonetheless, the counterpoint in this composition relies more on short motifs and rhythmic cells (as it does in similarly configured string orchestra compositions by Bartok, Honegger, Martinu, and Stravinsky) than on long, independent melodic lines, even near the end when the folksong appears. If the LITTLE SUITE is an homage to the 17th century ensemble sonata-cum-concerto grosso and the FANTASIA an homage to the concerto grosso (containing a transcription of Bach's own homage to Corelli), the DOUBLE CONCERTO is an orchestral work, and the chamber approach to it in this performance often produces the effect of not being able to see the forest for the trees. The affectionate attention to the shape of every note in every line, which works so well in the other string orchestra works, comes close to pulling this one out of shape. It IS a beautiful performance, but, while I would happily call the other performances on this disc as-close-to-definitive-as-we-can-expect, I would view this performance of the DOUBLE CONCERTO as a beautiful, if not fully-realized, alternative to the better-balanced and more incisive recordings by Andrew Davis on Teldec (with a resplendent performance of the RITUAL DANCES from "A MIDSUMMER MARRIAGE" and a nice, if less rapturous CORELLI FANTASIA) or Tippett's own recording on an otherwise unsatisfactory CD from Virgin (with a rather indulgent and not ideally clear CORELLI FANTASIA and the goofy SONGS FOR DOV - a work which makes many listeners, including myself, wonder: "What was he thinking?").