Tippett in focus

The neglect of Sir Michael Tippett's four symphonies has been the subject of an interesting discussion on an earlier post. So as today's article is being uploaded immediately after Armistice Day and Tippett was a committed pacifist, I am featuring two LPs of the composer's symphonies as powerful visual reminders of what is missing from the catalogue.

Sir Colin Davis' pioneering 1960s Argo recordings of the first three symphonies have never been bettered, and my 1968 LP of the Second Symphony is seen above. We must be grateful for Richard Hickox's complete cycle with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; but Davis and a top of their game London Symphony Orchestra excel in Tippett's signature sprung rhythms and, as a bonus, are captured in superb anadulterated pre-digital sound.

Colin Davis' interpretations have appeared in various guises in CD transfers, but are currently not available. Which is quite quite deplorable considering they are the definitive accounts of important works by one of the twentieth-centuy's great composers. But that has never worried Universal Music. Interesting typography on that record sleeve. Can you imagine the initials LSO being used on a CD today?

Below is Georg Solti's recording of the symphony missing from the Davis cycle, the 1977 Fourth which was a Chicago Symphony Orchestra commission. The Decca recording did appear on a CD coupled with The Knot Garden, but is now deleted. The LP coupling was Tippett's Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles commissioned by the BBC in 1948 to celebrate the birth of the heir to the throne. I am told by someone who tried to programme the Suite in the royal presence some years ago, that Charles hates the piece. Which must make it very good music indeed.

By royal command - Tippett can still empty a concert hall.
Both LPs are from my collection, so photos are (c) On An Overgrown Path 2009. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


Yes I too have these on vinyl up in my attic - someone should certainly make them available again on CD. The 2nd is particularly stunning I remember.

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