Bantock: Atalanta in Calydon; The Vanity of Vanities

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COMPOSERS: Bantock
LABELS: Albany
WORKS: Atalanta in Calydon; The Vanity of Vanities
PERFORMER: BBC Singers/Simon Joly
CATALOGUE NO: TROY 180 DDD
These two choral symphonies are settings of texts by Swinburne and from Ecclesiastes. Bantock demands extravagant forces, envisaging a twenty-part choir of more than two hundred voices for Atalanta, withlarge numbers also required for Vanities. The fifty-or-so-strong BBC Singers were arranged in proportion, but Bantock’s intention that massed voices should emulate orchestral instrumentation may have been compromised. Except for isolated moments like the quirkily fascinating ‘Eastern Dance’ in Vanities, the music itself rarely seems to come to life. Bantock seems to be preoccupied with illustrating textual detail rather than the shape and form of the whole. The choir seems dulled and uninspired by music lacking the rhythmic vitality of Elgar or Holst. Ian Lace

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