Eugene Goossens: Orch Works vol.1 (Chandos Audio CD)

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Catalogue No: CHSA5068
Orch Works vol.1 (Chandos Audio CD)

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Chandos Featured release for February will be the final recording made by Richard Hickox. Intended as the first in a cycle of orchestral works by Goossens. This disc offers the premiere recording of Phantasy Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, and the rarely recorded Symphony No.1 and serves as a tribute to Hickox and his fantastic legacy of recordings on Chandos.

Though principally remembered as a conductor, during the 1920s British composer Eugene Goossens was a prolific composer, regarded as one of the foremost British composers alongside Bax, Bridge and Walton. Sadly his music has been all but forgotten for the colourful, expressive nature of his music fell out of fashion on the 1950s and 1960s. A recent reviewer of Goossen’s music wrote, ‘If you have ever gleaned the idea that Goossens is inclined to grey modernism or to windy rhetoric, prepare to have your preconceptions well and truly shattered.’ His music is suggestive of fellow composers of the era, namely Holst and Bliss.

Having grown up in Britain, Goossens accepted an invitation to come to the United States as the first chief conductor of the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra in New York State. He was there for twenty years, before moving to Australia serving as Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. His music and character proved a great influence on the Australia classical audience; in fact he is recognised as one of the most noted figures in Australia music in recent years.

The rewarding Phantasy Concerto, Op. 60 for Piano and Orchestra was written for the celebrated Spanish pianist José Iturbi who gave its first performance in 1944. ‘The work, particularly the slow movement was influenced by my re-reading at that time of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Devil in the Belfry, and might be said to reflect something of the fantastic and sinister character of that story, though in no way being a literal depiction of it,’ wrote Goossens. The concerto was the outcome of a discussion between Iturbi and the composer over the lack of new piano concertos and especially on a smaller scale. The result is a four movement piano concerto in compressed sonata form. The solo part is more of a concertante than a display concerto, with a tendency to make the solo part an integral part of the orchestral texture. Goossens used the word ‘conversational’ to describe this relationship between soloist and orchestra. This premiere recording is coupled with the melodic and imaginative Symphony No.1.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is regarded as Goossens specialists and here perform with soloist Howard Shelley.


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