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Classics - Tippett: The Symphonies / Hickox, Bournemouth SO

Album Summary

>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 1
>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 2
>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 3 for soprano & orchestra
>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 4
>Tippett, Michael : New Year Suite, suite from the opera for orchestra
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Gramophone
This is Tippett firing on all cylinders, with a performance and recording to match.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
The riot of proliferating counterpoint that is Tippett's Symphony No 1 presents enough problems of orchestral balance to give recording teams nightmares. Chandos has managed creditable degrees of containment and clarity, without loss of realism, and the impact, when the last movement finally settles on to its long-prepared harmonic goal, is powerful and convincing. Doubts as to whether initial impetus is sufficient to keep the complex structures on course prove groundless.

This is a fine account, well balanced between lively rhythmic articulation and broad melodic sweep.

The balance Hickox achieves between attention to detail and large-scale symphonic sweep is exemplary, and especially impressive in the tricky finale of Symphony No 2, where he conveys the essential ambiguity of an ending which strives to recapture the optimistic élan of the work's opening without ever quite managing it.

The recording, too, gives us much more of the symphony's contrapuntal detail. The first recording of music from Tippett's opera NewYear, premiered in 1989, is thoroughly welcome.

The music of this suite may seem over-emphatic to anyone who hasn't experienced the opera in the theatre, and the recording relishes the booming electric guitars and wailing saxophones, as well as the taped spaceship effects.

The Third Symphony (1972) is one of Tippett's most complex and highly charged attempts to create a convincing structure from the collision between strongly contrasted musical characteristics.

The first two movements (Part 1, as Tippett calls it) remain a considerable technical challenge, especially to the strings, but this performance manages to sustain an appropriate level of tension without sounding merely effortful, and without skimping on the opportunities for eloquence of phrasing. It could well be that Tippett has over-indulged the percussion in the slow movement, but this vivid and well-balanced Chandos recording lets us hear ample detail without exaggerating the bright colours and hyper-resonant textures. The later stages have the advantage of a superbly characterful singer in Faye Robinson who has the power, the edge, and also the radiance, to make Tippett's progression from idiosyncratic blues to Beethovenquoting peroration utterly convincing.

It is good to find Richard Hickox and the Bournemouth SO taking on some imposing competition and holding their own so well.

Hickox's Fourth Symphony is more broadly conceived than Solti's for Decca, and it's a considerable success, for despite giving even more weight to the work's strong contrasts, as is evident especially in the final stages, Hickox avoids any impression that the work is merely a succession of separate episodes. This well-integrated reading receives a well-rounded recording, and playing which needn't fear comparison with the best Chicago has to offer. (The individual works are also available as downloads.)



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Works Details

>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 1
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset, England (10/28/1994/10/29/1994)
  • Running Time: 37 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1944-1945

>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 2
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset, England (03/09/1994/03/10/1994)
  • Running Time: 35 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1956-1957

>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 3 for soprano & orchestra
  • Performer: Faye Robinson (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset, England (12/03/1993/12/04/1993)
  • Running Time: 56 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1970-1972

>Tippett, Michael : Symphony no 4
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset, England (10/02/1992/10/03/1992)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1976-1977

>Tippett, Michael : New Year Suite, suite from the opera for orchestra
  • Performers: Melanie Bush (Saxophone); Tim Holmes (Saxophone); Kyle Horch (Saxophone); Robert Millett (Drums); Steve Smith (Drums); S. Taylor (Timpani)
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset, England (03/09/1994/03/10/1994)
  • Running Time: 26 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1989