First, however, the gratitude! I have been begging for a complete set of the symphonies of Peter Racine Fricker for more years than I care to think. It is therefore wonderful news that Lyrita will be issuing Symphonies Nos. 1-4 on cd in October. (Symphony No.5 was released a few months back.)
The BBC recordings being issued were made by the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra (as then was)conducted by Bryden Thomson, Albert Rosen, Sir Edward Downes and Maurice Handford. No.1 (under Thomson) was broadcast in 1980 and No.4 (under Handford) in 1978. There are more modern versions of No.1-a 1995 broadcast with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins, and No.3- a 1995 broadcast with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under Barry Wordsworth. These are in more modern sound obviously and are both excellent performances. They are available on You Tube.
However one has to accept that what we can get from the Richard Itter Archive can only be what he recorded at his home. Bryden Thomson and Edward Downes were excellent conductors and their performances of Nos. 1 and 3 will be more than welcome on cd.
The decision to issue (in September) the George Lloyd Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 I find a bit puzzling. These are the first broadcast performances of these two symphonies with the BBC Northern SO under Lloyd's champion, Edward Downes. Lyrita recorded the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth symphonies conducted by Downes in the early 1980s on LP (later transferred to cd). The composer himself then embarked on a complete cycle of his symphonies for Albany and these are all still available on cd.
I can understand why Lyrita may think that the Downes broadcasts of Nos. 6 and 7 might be worth reissuing but they will be in direct competition with the more modern sound of the composer's own versions.
Many, and particularly those who are great fans of Lloyd's music, may well want both. My own inclination-at present-would be to stick with the recordings I already possess.
I wonder if I can be allowed to ask whoever comes to review the new Lyrita disc of Nos. 6 nd 7 to consider the performances in relation/comparison to the composer's own versions. It may be that Paul Conway in his cd booklet notes may do this himself. (I did think of adding to the thread about "the worst booklet notes" that Paul's notes for all the Lyrita issues are models of excellence, providing exactly the sort of information about the composer and the specific works on the disc which the reader requires.)
The last words though must be of deepest appreciation and gratitude to Lyrita for the forthcoming Fricker. I genuinely did not think that I would ever see the day...........!!!
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