A Butterworth, Gipps

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COMPOSERS: A Butterworth,Gipps
LABELS: Classico
WORKS: Symphony No. 1
PERFORMER: Munich SO/Douglas Bostock
Sibelius strongly influenced this Symphony of Arthur Butterworth (b1923 – not to be confused with George Butterworth who died tragically in World War I.) Its outer movements evoke raw elemental forces; in the first, swirling strings and heavy brass punctuations suggest the iron grip of winter and icy seas, while the finale whips up a tremendous whirlwind of a storm on the mountains with the music raging thrillingly. The second movement is a shimmering, dappled contemplation of the Scottish Highlands and forests while the third was influenced by ‘the solitariness of a late-evening sea shore with the rumble of the surf and the swish of the pebbles washing up the beach…’


Like Butterworth, Ruth Gipps resolutely turned against the prevailing fashion for serial and modern music. Her Second Symphony, in one movement, is attractive, accessible and tuneful. It could almost be a film score. Written just after World War II, it must have summed up Gipps’ impressions and emotions at that time. It has sweeping noble and intimate Romantic melodies; almost dance-band/light music; heroic and jaunty, jubilant marches; idyllic, pastoral material; and a sorrowing lament for the fallen before the final celebratory peroration. Bostock delivers strong performances. Well worth exploring. Ian Lace