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Cat. No. CHSA 5051(3) Price: £23 No. of discs: 3
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CHSA 5051 - Bantock: Omar Khayyam
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Available From: 01 September 2007

Definitive Recordings
"...This monumental work by Bantock is scored for a large orchestra, choir, soloists, and even camel bells. It is full of romanticism, exotic orchestration, and deeply philosophical narrative... The sound quality is up to the Chandos high standards ... If you don’t know this highly talented British composer, this is a great way to introduce yourself to his music."
Jean-Yves Duperron - Classical Music Sentinel.com

Critic’s Choice Guy Rickards

This is the first recording of the ‘exotic’ oratorio considered by many the masterwork of British Composer Granville Bantock, perhaps best known for his Hebridean Overture. Written in 1906-09, it offers virtuoso opportunities for an array of soloists under conductor Vernon Handley. Soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers, tenor Toby Spence and baritone Roderick Williams excel in a vast, complex piece helpfully explained (complete with motif chart) in an excellent sleeve note by Lewis Foreman.
The Observer

The BBC orchestra and chorus perform with dedication and what sounds like real enthusiasm. As for the vocal principals, they seem to be singing their hearts out, with Catherine Wyn-Roger’s Beloved perhaps the outstanding artist of the three. This is the proper way to treat the piece, which must be given as full-blooded an interpretation as possible if it is to exercise the spell that Bantock so clearly desired to cast. It may be a long time before there is a rival recording, but it will have to be almost unimaginably good to top this one.
International Record Review

This first recording reflects the details and passion of Vernon Handley’s championing of Bantock’s kaleidoscopic output, and Stephen Jackson ensures that the choral input is similarly lively and fresh. Toby Spence brings a bright mix of Italianate ‘slancio’ and English declamation to the Poet, combining well with Catherine Wyn-Rogers’s more controlled reading of the Beloved in substantial (and Parsifal-like) duets in Parts 1 and 3. Chandos’s sound is suitably lush, occasionally at the expense of the chorus’s diction. It’s what recordings should be for, and should encourage future festival performances.

There is some stirring and evocative music here, Romantic and orientally coloured, which Vernon Handley directs with his customary mastery. It would be hard to think of three more expert soloists for this repertoire, and the chorus and orchestra do the whole project proud. The sound is warm and inviting, too.

It’s a fascinating rediscovery on a huge scale, especially in the detail and depth of SACD surround-sound seductively performed by Handley’s forces, Toby Spence appropriately poetic and Catherine Wyn-Rogers sensuous.
BBC Music Magazine ‘Choice’


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