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Bliss: Meditations On Theme By John Blow; Metamorphic Variations

Audio Samples

  1. Bliss — Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Introduction: The Lord is my Shepherd - I will fear no evil $0.99 on iTunes
  2. Bliss — Meditation I: He leadeth me beside the still waters $0.99 on iTunes
  3. Bliss — Meditation II: Thy rod and staff they comfort me $0.99 on iTunes
  4. Bliss — Meditation III: Lambs $0.99 on iTunes
  5. Bliss — Meditation IV: He restoreth my soul $0.99 on iTunes
  6. Bliss — Meditation V: In green pastures $0.99 on iTunes
  7. Bliss — Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Interlude: Through the valley of the shadow of death $0.99 on iTunes
  8. Bliss — Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Finale: In the house of the Lord $0.99 on iTunes
  9. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 1: Elements $0.99 on iTunes
  10. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 2: Ballet $0.99 on iTunes
  11. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 3: Assertion $0.99 on iTunes
  12. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 4: Speculation $0.99 on iTunes
  13. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 5: Interjections $0.99 on iTunes
  14. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 6: Scherzo I $0.99 on iTunes
  15. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 7: Contemplation $0.99 on iTunes
  16. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 8: Polonaise $0.99 on iTunes
  17. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 9: Funeral Processions $0.99 on iTunes
  18. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 10: Cool Interlude $0.99 on iTunes
  19. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 11: Scherzo II $0.99 on iTunes
  20. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 12: Duet $0.99 on iTunes
  21. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 13: Dedicated to G.D. and A.D. $0.99 on iTunes
  22. Bliss — Metamorphic Variations: Variation 14: Affirmation $0.99 on iTunes

Album Summary

>Bliss, Sir A. [Composer] : Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, for orchestra, Op. 80, F. 118
>Bliss, Sir A. [Composer] : Metamorphic Variations, for orchestra, F. 122
Conductor Ensemble
  • >

Notes & Reviews:

Scored for a large orchestra, including an extensive percussion section, Sir Arthur Bliss's Metamorphic Variations dates from the end of his creative life. Inspired by the triptych Tantris painted by Bliss's long-time friend, the late George Dannatt, it is a work of extremes, of enormous power, passion and violence balanced by gentleness, whimsy and delicacy. Meditations on a Theme by John Blow is one of Bliss's most eloquent and personal scores, a private tribute to a generation cut down in its youth, including his own brother, during World War I.

"David Lloyd-Jones has made several fine Bliss recordings for Naxos, and this is another. The Bournemouth Symphony plays beautifully throughout and is very well recorded. Indeed, Naxos' Bliss series represents one of the label's more noteworthy efforts on behalf of any British composer - but is anyone noticing? This series remains somewhat "under the radar", but it surely deserves the attention of all serious collectors." - Classics Today

"Both performances are well conceived, beautifully played, and nicely recorded. Interpretations are slightly laid back, but there is plenty of energy and muscle when needed. The program is such a natural that I'm surprised I have not seen it on records before."-American Record Guide

"Together with the Colour Symphony...the Meditations on a Theme of John Blow is Bliss's most considerable orchestral work, and arguably his greatest achievement. Its tone is both pastoral and elegiac...It's touchingly effective" -The Guardian ***

"...Lloyd-Jones [probes] beyond its obvious aspect as a display piece for the various sections of the orchestra. Indeed his performance makes me feel that the work may have been a kind of self-portrait of its creator...This is certainly a disc that no British music fan should be without." -BBC Music Magazine ****

"If Sir Arthur Bliss wrote a finer work than the Medititations on a Theme of John Blow then I would like to hear it...Bliss's score is a glowing exhibition of his compositional prowess...Meditations has been recorded before...yet the newcomer is beautifully played, well paced and boasts the finest sound to date." -Gramophone Magazine

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Concert Hall, The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, UK (05/11/2009-05/12/2009).


Bliss orchestral music
As fond as I am of 20th Century English composers I’ve never been able to warm up to the music of Arthur Bliss. I can’t say that there’s anything in his music that puts me off, but there is also nothing in it that moves me as much as Vaughan Williams, Bax, Holst or Britten. But I relish the English music series on Naxos and figured this volume with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-Jones would present a good case for the composer. It does indeed. It’s a tidy bit of history that Bliss would be appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 1953, the same year he would encounter John Blow’s setting of Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd.” Bliss (who had a commission for an orchestral work sitting on his desk) was inspired by one of the tunes in Blow’s setting and composed a set of meditations on the tune. There are five Meditations, preceded by an Introduction and followed by an Interlude and Finale, each movement illustrates one of the psalm’s verses. The Introduction (“The Lord is my Shepherd – I will fear no evil”) balances brooding dark with softer-hued English pastoral. The third Meditation “Lambs” is scherzo-like, while the fifth “Green Pastures,” is a gorgeous reverie for harp, winds and strings. The violence of the seventh Meditation “Through the valley of the shadow of death” is peppered with edgy percussion. The Finale “In the house of the Lord” is thrilling with Blow’s tune singing out gloriously. The Metamorphic Variations were written in 1972 in tribute to the artist George Dannatt. Masterfully orchestrated and filled with shifting moods and tones, this is quite an orchestral showpiece. Yet for all the composer’s creativity and superb craftsmanship, the work does have a certain rambling quality and emotional detachment that makes it less than a revelation for me. The Bournemouth Symphony plays brilliantly. The delicate wind and string writing in the Meditations comes off beautifully, the brass playing is stellar throughout and the percussionists really bang away in the Variations. The excellent liner notes by Giles Easterbrook are fascinating and the sound quality top-notch.
Submitted on 08/24/10 by Craig Zeichner 
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Works Details

>Bliss, Sir A. [Composer] : Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, for orchestra, Op. 80, F. 118
  • Conductor: David Lloyd-Jones
  • Notes: Concert Hall, The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, UK (05/11/2009-05/12/2009)
  • Running Time: 32 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1955

>Bliss, Sir A. [Composer] : Metamorphic Variations, for orchestra, F. 122
  • Conductor: David Lloyd-Jones
  • Notes: Concert Hall, The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, UK (05/11/2009-05/12/2009)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1972