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CHAN 10221
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CHAN 10221

Bliss: A Colour Symphony/ The Enchantress/Cello Concerto

The Classical Shop
release date: August 2004

Originally recorded in 2003


Ulster Orchestra

Vernon Handley

Raphael Wallfisch


Linda Finnie



Ulster Hall, Belfast


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Philip Couzens

(Assistant: A Colour Symphony)

Richard Lee

(other works)

Record Label
Chandos Classics


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 75:15
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A Colour Symphony (1921-22, revised 1932)*

1 I Purple: Andante maestoso 6:09
2 II Red: Allegro vivace 7:03
3 III Blue: Gently flowing 9:45
4 IV Green: Moderato 7:55

The Enchantress (1951)†

5 Bring me the laurel leaves - 3:25
6 Oh moon, shine fair - 5:35
7 Silent the sea - 5:43
8 And now in the fire I fling you 3:15

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1970)‡

9 I Allegro deciso 12:05
10 II Larghetto - 7:45
11 III Allegro 6:35
Bernardo Gaffi’s La forza del divino amore (The Power of Divine Love) is an intriguing rarity, and receives its premiere recording on the Chaconne label. It is an oratorio (for chamber forces with solo trumpet), one of eight by the composer which were popular in their day, and it is based on an episode in the life of St Teresa of Ávila. It is a beautiful score, performed by Ensemble ‘Pian & Forte’, a group formed in 1989 and dedicated to rediscovering and performing works of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Ensemble is joined by three vocal soloists, renowned exponents of the music of this period.

Premiere recording of this rare and beautiful score.

Full text and translation included.

A Colour Symphony was Bliss’s first major orchestral work, and its success did much to establish the composer’s reputation. It was written to a commission from the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival. For some time Bliss was uncertain about the nature of the piece, but coming across a book on heraldry and the symbolical associations ascribed to various colours, he seized on the idea for inspiration. What he had learned from Elgar and Stravinsky is apparent in the work’s masterly orchestration; Stravinsky’s influence has also been absorbed in the frequent dissonance, as has the pomp and circumstance pageantry of Elgar. Evidence of contact with Milhaud and ‘Les Six’ may be heard in the moments of piquant bi-tonality in the finale, whereas the ‘blues’ harmony at the conclusion of the scherzo’s second trio is a reminder that jazz was the popular music of the day.

The Enchantress is a scena for solo voice and orchestra. The text is a free adaptation of the Second Idyll of Theocritus, in which the jilted Simaetha woos back her lover, Delphis, by witchcraft. The resultant text allowed Bliss to create an ideal dramatic vehicle for Kathleen Ferrier, to whom the work is dedicated.

The Cello Concerto belongs to a late harvest of works that Bliss wrote during the last decade of his life. Undoubtedly its virtuoso solo part reflects that it had been requested by Mstislav Rostropovich, to whom it is dedicated ‘with admiration and gratitude’. Bliss originally designated the work a ‘Concertino’ as he felt it was a lighthearted piece. However, Benjamin Britten, who conducted the work’s first performance at Aldeburgh in 1970, pronounced it a major work and persuaded Bliss to alter its title to ‘Concerto’.

Strongly recommended to all who love 20th Century British Music.
American Record Guide

Chandoss generous compilation is an ideal introduction to his music… the Ulster Orchestra is outstanding and, as ever, Chandos engineering produces a luxurious sound, highlighting the brilliance and richness of Blisss orchestration.
BBC Music Magazine

Listening to Raphael Wallfischs superb performance of the Cello Concerto, for instance, I found myself constantly exclaiming “Why dont we hear this work all the time?”

…a quite excellent realisation of the score; it is objective yet compelling and completely satisfying.

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