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Simpson: Symphonies 6 & 7 [Import]

Robert Simpson , Vernon Handley , Royal Liverprool Philharmonic Orchestra Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Royal Liverprool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Vernon Handley
  • Composer: Robert Simpson
  • Audio CD (April 19, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000002ZKG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,453 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No 6-1977 (1)
2. Symphony No 6-1977 (2)
3. Symphony No 6-1977 (4)
4. Symphony No 6-1977 (4)
5. Symphony No 6-1977 (5)
6. Symphony No 6-1977 (6)
7. Symphony No 6-1977 (7)
8. Symphony No 6-1977 (8)
9. Symphony No 6-1977 (9)
10. Symphony No 6-1977 (10)
11. Symphony No 6-1977 (11)
12. Symphony No 6-1977 (12)
13. Symphony No 7-1977 (13)
14. Symphony No 7-1977 (14)
15. Symphony No 7-1977 (15)
16. Symphony No 7-1977 (16)
17. Symphony No 7-1977 (17)
18. Symphony No 7-1977 (18)
19. Symphony No 7-1977 (19)
20. Symphony No 7-1977 (20)
See all 23 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

These are two of the most extraordinary British symphonies to emerge since the Second World War. Simpson (b. 1921) tends to build his ideas as musical cells, but one will be motile, while the other is static. He will combine these and then let them evolve. It only seems atonal, but it isn't. Simpson lets the music emerge or submerge when it wants to. You can hear hints of Sibelius's moodiness, but beyond Sibelius, you won't be able to identify anybody other than Simpson. Hyperion is releasing all of Simpson's symphonies as well as his string quartets. Start here with these masterpieces. --Paul Cook

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
When I first listen to this CD, I was surprised. How can a composer write two so different symphonies and yet they are so typical for Simpson's musical language? That really amazed me as both symphonies are masterpieces in their own way.
Simpson's sixth symphony is perhaps (at least to me) its finest achivement in the orchestral media by this composer. A single, 28-minute movement does not have a slow movement. Not only that, nearly the entire symphony is in the same tempo, which makes it more unique; the contrasts are only in the expression. Another thing is the tonally simple organisation of twelve-tone system (an opening theme is using a pairing of minor third and perfect fifth, which would suggest the influence of Lutos³awski, but the sound is completely different). Although there are some similarities with Shostakovich, especially in the orchestration, Simpson has really written a great work, which is one of true masterpieces of late 20th century.
The seventh symphony has left me a bit confused; what a difference! What was Simpson thinking? Its contemplative atmosphere and a bit rude, elemental sound with relatively small orchestra (a 2, typical for Mozart), centred around tone C sharp with many interesting sonic placings of winds in high pitches makes the symphony unique in another aspect. Not in the terms of traditional movement form (it is the single movement as the sixth), but in the aspect of psychological approach towards the content.
Vernon Handley is a fenomenal conductor; while he's not much famous conductor in the world, he is certainly a master conductor for large scale symphonies like of Mahler, Bruckner and Shostakovich. And Simpson's symphonies rightfully join these masters of symphonic writting. The recordings are awesome, thrilling and powerful. Highly recommended.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two one-movement symphonies January 10, 2001
Simpson's sixth and seventh symphonies were both written in 1977 and are in single movements.
The sixth, in two parts, is founded on the concept proposed by Carl Nielsen that music is the sound of life, and the whole symphony is based on two tiny musical cells. These seems to grow naturally and inevitably into a mature structure culminating in a thrilling chord.
The seventh, in three sections, is based on a tight harmonic structure. However, as Simpson himself said, "it doesn't matter if you can't tell a fifth from a rissole", and listeners untrained in the intricacies of harmony will have no trouble following the musical argument, carried along by the exciting and powerful sounds.
As with the other discs in the Hyperion cycle of Simpson symphonies, Handley and the RLPO play excellently an the recording quality is extemely good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Both symphonies, the 6th and 7th, date from 1977, both are in one movement (with contrasting episodes), both display Simpson's rich and intricate harmonic processes by which simple cells or intervals generate the complex dynamics of tension and repose (admirably described in the liner notes). Both also present original twists: the 6th was suggested by gynaecologist Ian Craft and is architecturally (rather than illustratively, although it can be heard as illustrative) modelled on the organic growth and proliferation from two initial cells to birth (huge explosion and release of energy mid-way through), and from there to processes which Simpson likens to the growth of an individual from childhood to adolescence; the 7th was written specifically to be recorded on LP (the recording never materialized) and heard by a solitary listener seated on a chair - but in truth, I hear nothing that sounds "reductive" as the concept might imply. But more immediately striking still, both symphonies strongly display Simpson's overriding Nielsenian influences, with huge propulsive energy, build-ups of formidable tension, awesome accumulation and discharges of telluric violence, but also (here more in the 6th - 2nd part - than the 7th) the pastoral and woodwind-dominated playfulness of the moments of repose. One could consider this Nielsenian derivation to be Simpson's main limitation. Not me. Sometimes, rarely, derivations are as good, or even better than their model. Read more ›
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Vernon Handley was one of Robert Simpson's most ardent admirers, and he conducted all but Simpson's final symphony, No. 11. On the present disc, Handley leads the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in a Hyperion recording of Simpson's Symphonies 6 and 7. Both are essentially multi-section single-movement works composed in 1977 and as with the other symphonies in this cycle that I have reviewed, these symphonies demonstrate the relatively easy accessibility of Simpson's work.

There is little about the music of Robert Simpson that can be described as ordinary, traditional, or conventional. Symphony 6 demonstrates that uniqueness well, even to its concept - or should I say conception? It was dedicated to renowned AND notorious fertility pioneer Ian Craft, who proposed that a symphony could be written that paralleled a human life from fertilization through development, the two parts divided by a musically climactic birth. (Craft is a VERY interesting figure. If you are interested in his eye-opening career, I have provided more information following the recommendation of this album below.)

The first part of Symphony 6 begins quietly with the germinal cells represented by a static chord and motile violins. You can almost see the egg and the spermatozoa traveling towards each other (They both do, of course, outside Simpson's musical representation) prior to the moment of fertilization. Remember that Simpson was in medical school two years before turning towards music in which he eventually obtained his doctorate. Fetal development continues until orchestral contractions occur and our infant explodes from the birth canal. Interestingly, the next so many years of postnatal development elapse with quicker tempos.
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