Bliss: A Colour Symphony; Adam Zero

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bliss
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: A Colour Symphony; Adam Zero
PERFORMER: English Northern Philharmonia/David Lloyd-Jones
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553460
Bliss always preferred to write dramatic music. Indeed his own 1955 Decca recording of the glorious Colour Symphony (now issued by Dutton Laboratories) is blazingly intense, strongly characterised and full of rhythmic vivacity. Lloyd-Jones’s reading is more relaxed, employing generally slower tempi. Consequently, the opening of the ‘Green’ movement, with its intricate double fugue, tends to sag, but this is a relatively minor carp, for this is a beautifully flowing performance that lets the music breathe and reveals its design. (The lapping waters of the ‘Blue’ movement are particularly vivid.)

Advertisement

I have no reservations about Adam Zero, an allegory of man’s passage through life. The listener’s attention is riveted from the start by this exciting, brilliantly-coloured music, and Bliss’s own 1971 Lyrita recording of excerpts is surpassed by Lloyd-Jones’s spellbinding performance. His ‘Dance of Summer’ has true nobility and the ‘Dance with Death’ is not only portentous but infinitely consoling. A marvellous bargain, and a vital addition to the sparse Bliss discography. Ian Lace