I am however not a little perplexed by the forthcoming Arthur Butterworth. Butterworth was a fine composer. His music is attractive and enjoyable. I would really like to give this Lyrita release a warm welcome.
I have to say however that it seems to me that the coupling of Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 and 4 is ill-judged.
Symphony No.1 has been recorded twice. In December 1998 Douglas Bostock conducted the Munich Symphony Orchestra in a recording for the Danish Classico label. In 2009 Dutton released a remastered mono recording of the Proms performance given by the Halle Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli in August 1958 (the same performers who had given the symphony its premiere at the Cheltenham Festival the previous year).
Symphony No.4 has also been recorded by Dutton-indeed it is on the same double cd as the First Symphony (CDLX 7212). The performance recorded by Dutton in May 2008 is given by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the composer.
Symphony No.2 which dates from 1964 has not been commercially recorded and its presence on the new Lyrita release in a recording of a 1975 broadcast performance by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Christopher Adey is certainly welcome.
But the other two symphonies? Symphony No.1 is from a broadcast from 1976 by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the composer. We are told that the tape required significant restoration and that the recordng is unique but imperfect. "Unique" only presumably in that it is the composer conducting. But does that make it a more viable performance than those by Barbirolli and by Bostock-both highly praised by reviewers on this site.
The recording of Symphony No.4 is the premiere of the work given by the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra under Bryden Thomson in May 1986. In this case the comparison is with a recording made 22 years later in, presumably, better sound quality.
I am simply puzzled by Lyrita's decision to couple the Symphony No.2 with recordings of Nos. 1 and 4 which will have a hard job displacing those we already have. Butterworth's Symphony No.3 "Sinfonia Borealis" dates from 1979 and its premiere given by the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra under Bryden Thomson can be found on You Tube. So too Butterworth's big Violin Concerto of 1978 with Nigel Kennedy as soloist.
One may indeed hope that Lyrita will be in a position in the future to issue the Symphony No.3 and the Violin Concerto but surely this would have been the opportunity to do so?
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