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Jazz Fusion/Soul/Prog


Prelude & Deodato 2

SACD Hybrid Multi-channel

The Miracles

Love Crazy & The Miracles

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Hiroshima & Odori

Hugo Montenegro

Hugo in Wonderland & Neil's Diamonds

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Dutton Epoch – July 2016


This release took the Dutton Epoch recording team around the country to four gloriously sounding halls – from Watford to Manchester to Glasgow.
Longest in the can has been Arthur Sullivan’s theatre music for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and The Tempest, with dramatic recitation by Simon Callow and vocal numbers by sopranos Mary Bevan and Fflur Wyn accompanied by the BBC Singers. Also included is the first complete recording of the Marmion Overture (1867). A fine work from Sullivan’s early maturity, its neglect is hard to explain.
Issued as an attractively priced 2-CD set, these recordings feature the BBC Concert Orchestra at Watford Colosseum (Town Hall) and were made during sessions that took place on 3-4 February and 10-11 March 2015. They were also my first sessions with conductor John Andrews, and he knows this composer’s music intimately. I had not encountered soprano Mary Bevan before, and the way her voice soared over the orchestra was enchanting – something I think will thrill all Sullivan devotees.
Simon Callow’s sessions with the Concert Orchestra were superb too, in which he gave renditions of familiar speeches, changing from the witches to Banquo and Macbeth via a range of Scottish accents. Those of the first violins close to him were riveted by his presentation. During the tea breaks, his discussions with John Andrews on points of interpretation found them standing together against the background of a now deserted orchestra.

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When Chris Gardner approached Dutton Epoch about recording his father, John Gardner’s Second Symphony (1984-85) with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, there was much head scratching as to what should be the coupling. John Veale’s Second Symphony was my recommendation, and its acceptance satisfied a longstanding ambition to promote a work I thought would appeal to those who relished the more popular of Malcolm Arnold’s symphonies.
During the last twenty years of his life, I regularly visited Veale at his home at Woodeaton, near Oxford, and he loaned me the symphony’s autograph manuscript – but as I had never heard the work my assessment was based entirely on the score. Conductor Martin Yates announced himself keen after reading it, and the sessions, on 3 and 4 June 2015, would be among Dutton Epoch’s last at the RSNO’s old home of Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow. They were remarkably successful, both works a revelation for their character and memorable style. At one point during the Veale, all in the control suddenly shouted, “It’s becoming John Williams!” Written in 1965, the symphony predates any film score it might have reminded us of, and Veale himself was a significant movie composer.
Gardner’s Second Symphony, written more than three decades after his better-known First Symphony, is in a strongly tonal idiom, and the RSNO’s enchanting performance under Martin Yates reveals the Gardner and the Veale as an ideal pairing.

Executive producer Mike Dutton (background) and producer Michael Ponder (foreground) in the control room during the John Veale recording

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John Veale

John Gardner

Martin Yates conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in John Veale’s Second Symphony at Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow

Arriving at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on 5 September 2015 for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s recording of Havergal Brian’s Second and Fourteenth symphonies was like opening the door on a magical musical world, for spread out before me were the enormous forces required for the Second Symphony, presided over by Martyn Brabbins, our good-humoured conductor. None of the Second Symphony’s previous performances had employed the huge line-up the score demands – particularly the sixteen horns – but here the detail and grandeur of Brian’s aural canvas was fully recreated.
Having been involved in the Second Symphony’s first performance (in 1973), it has always held a special interest for me. I had been able to discuss the music with Brian himself during the year prior to his death. We spoke about which symphony conductor Leslie Head should consider after the success of his premiere in 1969 of Wine of Summer, and Brian’s 95th birthday concert at St. John’s, Smith Square in 1971. Graham Hatton’s preparation of orchestral parts started and went on through much of 1972. We began writing programme notes in the summer of 1972, consulting the composer. He then produced a bombshell in the shape of an utterly new programme for the work, communicated to me in a pencilled note. It was now, “Man in His Cosmic Loneliness”!

The first page of Brian’s pencilled note of July 1972 about the Second Symphony

The recording of the Second and Fourteenth symphonies presented a formidable undertaking (in addition to the huge orchestral line-up, both works also require an organ), the extent of the task evident from the photographs. Not least were the sixteen horns, arranged during the Second Symphony’s scherzo in two equal groups on either side of the hall, the regular line-up (of nine players) returning to their customary position for the other movements. During a break, Martyn Brabbins brought the horns together for a group photograph. Lynda Cochrane and Judith Keaney, the pianists, also stopped for a photograph with the conductor. The timpani and percussion were a special group too, stretched across the back of the orchestra where at moments of peak activity there were as many as ten musicians playing simultaneously. Particularly instructive is the view from the organ console, a vantage point from which can be seen the massed forces.
Only occasionally did questions about specific notes cause Martyn Brabbins to examine the score, which illustrates how thoroughly the project had been prepared, with the combined input of the Havergal Brian Society and John Pickard, himself a composer of international standing. To those present it was an unforgettable occasion, and what we now have is the definitive presentation of these two works.

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John Pickard takes a serious view of a query on notes

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Dutton Epoch’s first visit to the Hallé at their light and airy rehearsal hall – St. Peter’s, Manchester – on 5-7 January 2016 was a delightful occasion: we were here with soloist Sarah-Jane Bradley and conductor Stephen Bell to record English music for viola and orchestra. The first day opened with Benjamin Dale’s familiar Romance for Viola, orchestrated by the composer in 1910 and premiered by Lionel Tertis under the baton of Arthur Nikisch (whose condescension towards the work irritated Tertis considerably). Dale writes for a surprisingly large orchestra to accompany his solo viola, and the tolling opening chords, noble melody and wide-spanning cantilenas exhibit his style at its most lyrical.


Canadian-born composer Ruth Lomon, to a commission from The Rebecca Clarke Society, has orchestrated Rebecca Clarke’s well-known Viola Sonata in authentic style. A concerto is the result, and one bearing comparison with other viola concerti of the post-WWI period.
Clarke prefaces her score with two lines from French poet Alfred de Musset’s La Nuit de Mai (1835) – preparing us for the romantic and emotionally charged atmosphere:

Poète, prends ton luth; le vin de la jeunesse
Fermente cette nuit dans les veines de Dieu.

I translated this as follows (feeling that blood “fermenting” in the poet’s veins sounded rather stilted):

Poet, take your lute; the wine of youth
Courses this night in the veins of God.

Clarke writes in her autobiography of an experience one summer evening as she passed under a large Syringa bush in full bloom:

It was glistening and dripping with raindrops, and the scent that poured from it, mingling with the primitive, almost cosmic, smell of earth after rain, was so potent that suddenly I was shaken by a rapture beyond anything I had ever known. It was allied to sex – though I did not realise that at the time – but purer: a kind of crystallization of the ecstasy found in music, the awe inspired by the stars.

This erotic charge is certainly in Clarke’s music, and Lomon’s orchestration reinforces the composer’s distinctive voice. “Technically, the work is titled as being in three movements though I see it more as a (dominant) slow movement leading into an agitato finale,” comments Sarah-Jane Bradley.

Sarah-Jane Bradley

The rest of the programme consisted of two fresh discoveries. Lionel Tertis championed Richard Walthew’s lovely montage of encores, A Mosaic in Ten Pieces (with Dedication). Originally published in 1900 for clarinet and piano, the composer orchestrated it in 1943 as a viola piece for Tertis to play at that year’s Proms. A charming confection, Sarah-Jane Bradley revelled in the piece and her playing of it is the equal of her legendary predecessor.
Contrastingly, Harry Waldo Warner’s large-scale Suite in D minor, Op. 58 is in three movements. (Waldo Warner is a name familiar from old record catalogues but completely forgotten by most music lovers.) Judging from the opus number, we deduced it must be a late work, probably written during WWII.
The manuscript survived in the collection of Lionel Tertis, and after him his pupil Harry Danks. Its publication and recording was a longstanding ambition of the late John White, for many years Professor of Viola and Head of Instrumental Studies at the Royal Academy of Music, who prepared the edition recorded here, but did not live to hear it played. (The viola and piano manuscript is marked up for string orchestra, the orchestral full score now realised by Tim Seddon.) Again, Sarah-Jane Bradley was a persuasive advocate, playing with authority and a beautiful tone, making it easy to forget how difficult much of the music actually is. She pointed to the last page, Molto allegro, and described it as, “a ridiculous race to the finish, and quite extraordinary viola writing.”

Stephen Bell

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More Dutton Epoch Discoveries

The new Dutton Epoch release features six CDs: three in the International Series alongside three British music discoveries – and with more in the can for later in the year. For the past sixteen years, Dutton Epoch has specialised in exploring the hidden byways of British music, in the process uncovering many delightful works, such as the complete symphonic output of Richard Arnell. More recently, however, the International Series has widened the label’s scope, and among much superb music, perhaps the most notable find has been the music of German composer Walter Braunfels (1882-1954).

At a recording session with the conductor Johannes Wildner and the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2012, we discussed which neglected twentieth-century German or Austrian composer would be the most rewarding to focus on next in his series with the Concert Orchestra. I happened to mention Walter Braunfels. Johannes’ enthusiasm was immediate and characteristically unrestrained, and I was asked to

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research Braunfels’ unrecorded music and recommend a first programme, which was recorded on 15-17 April 2013. This proved so successful that in April 2014 we were back in the studio – this time Studio 1 at Abbey Road – for a second Braunfels programme, which was even more enthusiastically received by the recording team, and a commitment to do a third CD came then and there. On these occasions, it is very difficult to be precise as to running time, and one item from the April 2014 sessions – the Straussian Prelude to Braunfels’ opera Don Gil von den grünen Hosen (Don Gil of the Green Breeches) – had to be carried over because we had recorded too much material. So on 10-12 November 2014 all convened again, at Watford Town Hall (or the Watford Colosseum as it is now known). As well as tuneful orchestral extracts from two operas – Don Gil and Die Vögel – this third set of sessions included the pre-First World War Serenade Op. 20, a fine work that should surely figure in popular orchestral repertoire the world over. The programme was completed by the unknown but hugely attractive Konzerstück in C sharp minor for piano and orchestra Op. 64 – in effect a post-Second World War piano concerto – which the amiable and good-humoured Piers Lane threw off with complete authority, as if he had been playing it all his life. When I was taking photographs after the session, Piers joked, “Aren’t you going to take the usual corny shot? You need to get my reflection in the lid.” I did my best to oblige.

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The other new titles in the International Series were researched by conductor Martin Yates, and with particular soloists in mind. Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952) and Witold Maliszewski (1873-1939) both came from the Russian musical tradition before the Revolution, but in fact were born in the Ukraine, though Maliszewski is often thought of as a Polish composer (indeed, he was Lutoslawski’s teacher), and Bortkiewicz lived for many years in Vienna. Nevertheless, the earlier orchestral music of both is clearly rooted in the mainstream Russian tradition. The Bortikiewicz and Maliszewski programmes were recorded at the RSNO’s former home, Henry Wood Hall, a converted church where so many of Dutton Epoch’s sessions with the RSNO have been recorded. Sadly, these were the last to be undertaken there. Pianist Peter Donohoe projected Maliszewski’s impressive Piano Concerto in B flat minor in his customary commanding manner, while the coupling, the Third Symphony of 1907, emerged as a full-scale romantic Russian symphony that somehow had fallen into obscurity. Even more striking was Sergei Bortkiewicz’s huge Violin Concerto of 1922, which soloist Sergey Levitin has taken to his heart. The Symphonic Poem “after Shakespeare’s Othello” makes a strong coupling. This completely unknown orchestral piece, completed just before the outbreak of the First World War, is a rewarding addition to our repertoire of Russian music, and had all gripped as it unfolded in the studio.

The three CDs of British music feature Armstrong Gibbs, Vaughan Williams, Cyril Scott, Arnold Bax and George Butterworth.

Conductor Ronald Corp presents an all-Armstrong Gibbs programme, including the majority of the composer’s unrecorded yet substantial orchestral music, which proved to be a minor revelation for its lyrical attractiveness and personal style. Even though we had explored the printed music in advance of the sessions via piano play-throughs or in electronic playback of a “Sibelius” file, the first hearing of the music at the sessions themselves is always a magical moment. Especially so when we hear the miracle of sight-reading that British orchestras always deliver at the first rehearsal, before getting down to the detailed work of the session itself. In this case, the orchestra was the BBC Concert Orchestra, and this music, very much their métier, was meat and drink to them. It was a varied programme full of delights. The five-movement suite from the children’s play Crossings is short, but something that one goes on playing once it is on the personal radar. Different in sound and texture, and indeed quite a contrast – yet written in 1919, the same year as Crossings – is The Enchanted Wood Op. 25. This the composer called “a dance phantasy,” and the scoring for string orchestra with solo violin and piano is haunting. The leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra, Charles Mutter, played the solo violin part, with Ben Dawson as the pianist.

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The largest orchestral line-up on the session was assembled to record the atmospheric Symphonic Poem A Vision of Night Op. 38 of 1921. Dedicated to Arthur Bliss, it was first performed on 8 March 1923 by the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra. Unlike Gibbs’s other music, this piece is a study in orchestral colour, calling, in addition to the full orchestra, on a large array of low winds – and it was particularly exciting to see David Chatterton wielding the contra-bass sarrusophone beside the bassoons.


The remainder of the Gibbs programme proved to be even more varied, including the Suite in A for violin and orchestra Op. 101 of 1942 (five miniature movements with Charles Mutter as the soloist once more) and Gibbs’s most famous composition, the haunting slow waltz Dusk, which enjoyed almost pop-music status in the mid-1940s. And Gibbs’s appeal to a light music audience was reinforced when we heard the Four Orchestral Dances of 1959.

Putting together programmes by different composers is a difficult thing to do, and Dutton Epoch usually plans them based on one composer. Apart from anything else, it makes reviews easier to locate after the CD has appeared. However, the mix of Cyril Scott’s evocative nature ramble celebrating cellist Beatrice Harrison, The Melodist and the Nightingales, with Arnold Bax’s very early Variations for Orchestra and Martin Yates’s completion and performing edition of George Butterworth’s last work, Fantasia for Orchestra, which survived unfinished when Butterworth died in France, makes for a satisfying programme. In The Melodist and the Nightingales, the principal cello of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Aleksei Kiseliov, found a special rapport with conductor Martin Yates in championing what in other hands might well have fallen flat. But here they weave a magical musical web.


The Melodist and the Nightingales was recorded in the Caird Hall, Dundee, a location the Dutton Epoch team had not visited before, and it was in this wonderfully responsive acoustic that Dutton Epoch’s new Vaughan Williams programme was set down, featuring a major outcome of Martin Yates’s researches through the Vaughan Williams manuscripts in the British Library. This is the orchestral suite from RVW’s opera Sir John in Love, to which the composer gave the working title Fat Knight. And what a gorgeously attractive piece it is – seven movements including some familiar RVW tunes, but also reminding us of some that come up fresh. The coupling is Yates’s vivid orchestration of Vaughan Williams’s Henry V Overture, surely a precursor of Walton’s film score of ten years on, and Vaughan Williams’s familiar and much-loved Serenade to Music, here recorded in its entrancing orchestral version and prompting one to ask why it is not thus better known.


Session photographs by Lewis Foreman
Blog post written by Lewis Foreman

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