I admit that my interest in the more obscure works in the symphonic repertoire means that I place more importance on the quality of the music itself than on the recording quality. If the sound is at least tolerable then I would rather have the music on disc than not. But the sound on these 'new' Lyrita discs is a lot better than merely tolerable. As someone who spent much of the 1970s making off-air recordings I can fully appreciate the Itter achievements!
And the sad but almost certain fact is that we could wait until hell freezes over for alternative recordings in moden, state of the art sound quality. Companies like Chandos and Dutton have been bombarded over the years with requests from fans of British music to record the symphonies of Arnold Cooke, William Wordsworth and Peter Racine Fricker. If these companies could not afford to record the music some years ago then they certainly cannot do so now in the more difficult financial climate. These companies struggle to survive. They depend on sources of external funding. The Havergal Brian symphonies get onto disc largely because of the incredibly generous support of the Havergal Brian Society and its members. The forthcoming Dutton recording of the HB Symphonies Nos. 2 and 14 came near to being cancelled until a member of the HBS came up with a gift of £40,000!
Cooke, Wordsworth and Fricker do not have societies dedicated to their music with members who are so willing to put their hands into their pockets. I have been one of those people who have badgered Lewis Foreman to try to get Dutton interested in particular composers. He does not need convincing. Dutton's accountants are a different story!
If the listener to the Wordsworth Lyrita disc of the Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5 finds the recording quality unacceptable and prefers to wait for a genuinely new recording then that is his choice. But I warn that listener....he will wait a very long time. Some of us have already waited 50 years or so for more Wordsworth symphonies on disc. I know that I am overjoyed to have a masterpiece like the 5th on disc at last. I rejoice at that. Will it happen again in my lifetime? ....never say never but realistically.....?
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