WORKS: Checkmate Suite; Quintet for Clarinet and Strings; Music for Strings; Pastoral ‘Lie Strewn the White Flocks’; Hymn to Apollo
PERFORMER: Janet Hilton (clarinet); Lindsay String Quartet, Ulster Orchestra/Vernon Handley, Northern Sinfonia & Chorus/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 241-1 Reissue (1983-91)
Bliss is an under-valued composer, and this reissued collection of splendid recordings is particularly welcome. The inspired lyricism of the Clarinet Quintet finds Janet Hilton and the Lindsays on excellent form, while the Ulster Orchestra can seldom have played better than for Handley in Checkmate and the eloquent Hymn to Apollo.
Hickox and the Northern Sinfonia successfully capture the purposeful character of Music for Strings, surely influenced by Stravinsky. The recording’s dynamic range is most effective too. Bliss was deeply interested in Classical sources. His Pastoral beautifully evokes a Greek landscape, and the voices and orchestra acquit themselves admirably. Terry Barfoot