CD Review: Godfrey Ridout (various performers)

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Godfrey Ridout: The Ascension 
(Cantiones Mysticae No. 2); Two Etudes; Concerto Grosso; George III His Lament
CBC broadcasts by various performers
Centrediscs CMCCD 28220
Total time: 57 minutes

Godfrey Ridout (1918-84) stood for neoclassical and sometimes British-inspired ­lyricism at a time when the academic winds at the ­University of Toronto were blowing in other directions. He made worthy contributions to the repertoire, some presented in this anthology of archival CBC radio recordings. The ­Ascension, the soaring second of the three Cantiones Mysticae, is here given an ­honorable but acoustically recessed ­performance by Janet Smith (who, like many high ­sopranos, is not easy to understand) and the Thirteen Strings under Brian Law. (We know the broadcast date in 1985 but not the date of performance.) Both the stereo and the string playing are more engaging in Two Etudes as performed by the CBC Vancouver Orchestra under the reliably to-the-point baton of Mario Bernardi. The first of these speaks forcefully enough to be called Bartókian. The middle movement of the Concerto Grosso (Chamber Players of Toronto under Victor Martin) might be said to meld Schoenberg with Barber and even Mahler; it is the sombre highlight of this ­otherwise jittery piece. George III His Lament (Winnipeg SO under Simon ­Streatfeild, whose unusual name is apparently fated to be ­misspelled) is a set of ­variations in reverse that reveals its “theme” at the end. Resourceful ­orchestration helps. All told, however, the recording is less essential than the Ridout ­assortment issued by Centrediscs in 1990 with the richly-recorded Toronto SO under the ­inspired Victor ­Feldbrill. This classic (CMCCD3890) is available as a CD from the Canadian Music Centre.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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About Author

Arthur Kaptainis has been a classical music critic since 1986. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Musical Toronto. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto. Since 2019, Arthur is co-editor of La Scena Musicale.

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