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CHAN 9693
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CHAN 9693

Gerhard: Pedrell Symphony · Harpsichord Concerto

The Classical Shop
release date: September 1998

Originally recorded in 1997


BBC Symphony Orchestra

Matthias Bamert

Geoffrey Tozer



Blackheath Halls, London


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Richard Smoker


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 57:21
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Select Complete Single Disc for
  premiere recording of the complete Symphony  

Symphony 'Homenaje a Pedrell'

1 I Allegro (moderatamente) 12:33
2 II Andante (un poco adagio) 11:28
3 III Pedrelliana: Allegretto giusto 11:10
premiere recording

Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings and Percussion

4 I Allegro maestoso 6:29
5 II Largo 7:50
6 III Vivace spiritoso 7:51

Geoffrey Tozer performs the premiere recording of Gerhard’s intensely dramatic harpsichord concerto.

Gerhard completed his unnumbered Symphony "Homanaje a Pedrell" twelve years before his Symphony No 1 (1952-3). Its genesis may have been a long drawn-out affair, the opening movement suggesting that is did not begin as a symphony. Perhaps as early as 1922, the year of Felipe Pedrell’s death, Gerhard began to contemplate this tribute to his revered teacher with whom he studied from 1915 to 1920. The tribute is based on themes which Pedrell had used in his unperformed opera La celestina (1904), and these carry through the three movements of the 1941 Symphony. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Gerhard’s family was fragmented. Gerhard found himself in Cambridge with time on his hands and returned to composition.

Two kindred spirits, surprisingly, had an effect on Gerhard; Sibelius, a contemporary symphonist and the lone voice of a small, long oppressed country; and Rachmaninov, a fellow refugee. BBC broadcasts and London concerts exposed Gerhard to the symphonic repertoire in England, with national composers such as Bax, Vaughan Williams, Rubbra and Walton active in this field. The British musical enviroment may well have encouraged him to make the symphony and the concerto his central vehicles for expression.

It was a bold example of Gerhard’s self-confidence to write work that would have to stand comparison with Manuel de Falla’s Concerto for Harpsichord and five instruments, the greatest instrumental composition by a Spanish composer. Both composers were attempting to emulate the keyboard style and formal proceedures of the sixteenth-century Spanish composer Antonio de Cabezón and his contemporaries. Gerhard’s interest in serial techniques intensified with the composition of the First Symphony (1952-3), and reached its climax in the harpsichord Concerto (1955-6) and the original version of the Second Symphony (1957-9).

"...the symphony presents few difficulties and offers much to delight, particularly the elegiac slow movement.Matthias Bamert conducts a splendid performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The later, serial Gerhard is to be heard in the Harpsichord Concerto (1956), virtuosically played by Geoffrey Tozer. This is a tough nut but one well worth cracking. It is music that knows where it is going and is very well crafted."

The Sunday Telegraph - 4 October 1998

      Performance ****      Sound *****

Andy Hamilton - Classic CD - December 1998


"...ther BBC Symphony offer a thrilling performance and Chandos’s engineering (as usual) is stellar..."

American Record Guide - March/April 1999

"...Chandos’s Gerhard series is a great gift to music, a heroic advocacy of a composer who deserves a major place in the histroy of this century’s music... The performances are flawless, and the sound is a perfect balance between fullness and clarity."

Robert Carl - Fanfare - April/May 1999


The Scotsman - 10 October 1998

          Performance *****        Sound *****

"...Stunning craftsmanship, unmissable premiere recording."

Ates Orga - BBC Music magazine - March 1999

C Lopez