SOMM Recordings is delighted to announce the label debut of the acclaimed British composer Howard Blake with a disc of his orchestral music to mark his 85th birthday.
Blake himself is heard at the piano and conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, with Paul Daniel also conducting the English Northern Philharmonia.
Internationally recognised as the composer of The Snowman’s ‘Walking on Air’, Blake’s prolific and wide-ranging achievements extend into symphonies, concertos, oratorios and music for solo piano to embrace the concert hall, dance stage and cinema screen.
This focus on his orchestral music which includes four first recordings begins with his single-movement Symphony No. 1 in its 1990 revision, a richly variegated work of vivid images and, as the title has it, Impressions of a City. A work of dazzling, multi-faceted dimensions and execution, it is, writes Robert Matthew-Walker in his authoritative booklet notes, an “organic, truly symphonic, composition from a genuine creative flag.”
Concert Dances, for piano and orchestra, from 1992 and featuring Blake conducting from the keyboard, comprises nine relatively short dance
movements in various styles to vivacious effect.
Alluding to Eleanor of Aquitaine, 1979’s The Court of Love is a ravishing concert suite of three movements drawn from Blake’s ballet score for choreographer Lynn Seymour marking Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee two years previously.
The suite taken from his soundtrack to the 1987 film A Month in the Country shows Blake at his most exquisite and expressive in a score, says Matthew-Walker, that “surely belongs in any collection of 20th-century English music for string orchestra”.
SOMM’s long championing of British composers includes recent discs devoted to Stephen Dodgson (SOMMCD 0659; 0673), Penelope Thwaites (SOMMCD 0612; 0672), Kenneth Leighton (SOMMCD 0667), Holst (SOMMCD 279), Ian King (SOMMCD 0649) and Elgar (SOMMCD 278).
On This Recording
- Symphony No. 1: Impressions of a City, Op. 42/409 (1967, rev. 1990) (14:34)ac
- I. Parade (0:55)
- II. Slow Ragtime (1:39)
- III. Jump (0:54)
- IV. Medium Rock (1:48)
- V. Folk Ballad (2:24)
- VI. Boogie (1:00)
- VII. Jazz Waltz (2:34)
- VIII. Cha-Cha (1:55)
- IX. Galop (0:53)
- I. The Enchantress (Theme and Variations) (6:16)
- II. The Maiden and the Troubadour (Scherzo) (7:07)
- III. The Queen (Theme and Finale) (6:21)
- I. Larghetto (3:04)
- II. Alla marcia (1:21)
- III. Adagio (Elegy) (3:55)
- IV. Scherzando (1:36)
- V. Andante espressivo (3:11)
Howard Blake, pianob and conductorc
dEnglish Northern Philharmonia and Paul Daniel, conductor