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This is an important release of four of Peter Racine Fricker’s five symphonies in off-air recordings from 1980.

Born in Ealing, Fricker studied with Seiber and taught at the RCM before moving to California. His musical voice is deliciously spicy, influenced by Bartók, Schoenberg and Stravinsky. This piquancy leads to hyper-emotive slow movements (Symphonies 1 and 3), but is also felt in the more active ‘Tableau and Dance’ of the First (no missing the Bartók flavour). Thomson is a confident director of the First, as he is of the craggy Rondo Scherzino. The Second is interesting in being comprised of three equal-length but contrasted rondo-derived movements. Albert Rosen, who also directs the light-hearted Comedy Overture, clearly is finely attuned. Edward Downes masterfully moulds the third symphony (shades of Havergal Brian?). The fourth symphony, dedicated to Seiber and heard here in its revised version, is cast in one long movement marked by anger and frustration. Maurice Handford steers the BBC orchestra impeccably. Fascinating music.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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