Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Julius Harrison: Bredon Hill

I am delighted that Bredon Hill- a rhapsody for violin & orchestra is available on two CDs. These have been issued in the space of about 18 months and fill an minor but interesting gap in English music recordings.
This is quite definitely (and deliberately) a ‘retro’ work – harking back to an earlier English Pastoral tradition exemplified by Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending and George Butterworth’s Shropshire Lad Rhapsody. However, the reason why Julius Harrison chose to evoke a musical landscape from the past is complex. It had much to do with the wartime mood of nostalgia – seeking to preserve an icon of an England that probably never existed – except in the mind of poets, musicians and filmmakers – but was important to the concept of a country that was worth fighting for. It was widely broadcast to service people across the world with considerable success.
It is a work that demands our attention and certainly will appeal to all listeners who enjoy ‘landscape in music.’ It is a beautiful meditation that explores considerable depths of feeling: it is introspective but at the same time inspiring. Bredon Hill must count as one of the finest musical portrayals of the English countryside. It is unbelievable that it remained unheard for so many years.
Perhaps the last word on this work ought to go to Gordon Bottomley. Commenting on this piece, he wrote that “the dew was so fresh and undimmed by footsteps. Some of the harmonies came from further off than Bredon: perhaps there had been footsteps on them that did not show on the dew.”
This work is a rare treasure and deserves due respect.
Thanks to MusicWeb International


The two recordings mentioned above can be found on Lyrita SRCD.317 & Dutton CDLX 7174

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