PETER RACINE FRICKER (1920-1990): The Vision of Judgement for Soprano, Tenor, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 29 (Jane Manning [soprano], Robert Tear [tenor], Leeds Festival Chorus, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Charles Groves. broadcast Oct. 14, 1980), Symphony No. 5 for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 75 (Gillian Weir [organ], BBC Symphony Orchestra; Colin Davis. broadcast May 5, 1976 - mono).
Catalogue Number: 03R012
Description: Highly regarded during his earlier career, Fricker precipitously descended into wholly undeserved obscurity thereafter, likely because of two diametrically opposed misconceptions; that his music is 'atonal' - even the notes for this exceptionally welcome CD perpetuate this egregious error - it isn't, even slightly, it's just rather chromatic and a bit harder-edged than people looking for folk-derived pastoral Englishness were comfortable with; and that he was 'conservative' because he stuck to his aesthetic rather than investigating avant-garde trends during the Glock years at the BBC. The Vision of Judgement is an exceedingly impressive three-quarter hour oratorio setting texts by the Anglo-Saxon poet Cynewulf alongside passages from the Requiem Mass. The very large orchestral forces are superbly employed in apocalyptic and jubilant grandeur as required, though also with a refined sense of colour and structural subtlety, and the choral writing is tremendously accomplished. The obvious comparisons are to Walton's Belshazzar's Feast or Vaughan Williams' Sancta Civitas, and there seems to be no musical reason why Fricker's splendid work, enthusiastically lauded by the critics when it first appeared in 1957, should not be equally recognised. The idiom, in which tonal centers abound, is no less approachable than either of these acknowledged masterworks. The taut, driven twenty-minute symphony of 1976 is less of a bombastic concertante showpiece than some other notable organ symphonies, though it is a powerful, weighty and energetic work, integrating the massiveness of the organ into the already large, generously utilized orchestra like an additional section of the ensemble. The work is in four movements contained in a single span, with much of the composer's characteristic sinewy, linear, contrapuntal thinking, striking antiphonal interchanges between organ and orchestra, and no shortage of sonic spectacle and excitement. Texts included.