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This is a most welcome release. Bliss has for too long lain forgotten, overshadowed in our concert halls and on CD by figures such as Walton and Britten. Yet on the strength of Morning Heroes, his ‘symphony for orator [here the excellent Samuel West], chorus and orchestra’, he deserves to be far better known. Dedicated to the memory of the composer’s brother, who died on the Somme in 1916, Morning Heroes is at once a Requiem for the fallen and an attempt by Bliss to process his own experiences in the first world war – the work dates from a decade after the Somme. While Bliss’s harmonies are less acerbic than earlier in his career, there’s no doubting his ability to craft a finely constructed symphonic shape, and the subject matter seems to have inspired him to give of his best. Davis and his superb forces have the measure of the work’s mood of elegiac restraint and outshine the former EMI recording under Sir Charles Groves. The filler is the premiere recording of Hymn to Apollo (1926), also apparently a tribute to Bliss’s dead brother. The recording is, as ever from Chandos, exemplary in every respect, while Andrew Burns’s liner notes are essential reading. A splendid release.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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