Friday, November 04, 2011

Bliss, a colourful composer

Continuing the London theme of recent posts, time to put the spotlight on one of the city's great musical sons. Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) is one of many British composer who are unjustly neglected in other countries. His style is less pastoral than Delius or Vaughan Williams, less startling than Rawsthorne, but very much British throughout. His best work is probably his only symphony dating back to 1921. This "Colour symphony" is in four movements based on heraldic colours (purple, red, blue and green) and is one of the better symphonies of its time. I have selected the Naxos disc with this masterpiece as the introduction to Bliss. The other composition on this CD is the later ballet Adam Zero (1946), a stunning score making use of contemporary nightclub tunes to set the scene. Excellent playing by the English Northern Philharmonia under David Lloyd-Jones. A composer well worth investigating.