Symphonies Nos 2 and 4
Hyperion CDA66505 – Review by Karl W. Nehring
Like Sir Malcolm Arnold, Robert Simpson is a contemporary British symphonist. Simpson’s music sounds more deliberate and focused than Arnold’s, but never dull or academic. This is music that you can really sink your teeth into, wonderful symphonic music that deserves much wider hearing. Symphony No. 2, which clocks in at a bit less that half an hour, is energetic without being overbearing, while No. 4, a larger work both in terms of length (more than 45 minutes) and orchestral scope, covers a wide range of emotional and musical expression with confidence and power, and is truly a modern symphonic masterwork. It suddenly strikes me how many powerfully expressive fourth symphonies there have been in the 20th century: Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovitch, Arnold, Nielsen; masterpieces all, and Simpson’s 4th is worthy to stand proudly among them. Sad to say, the latest word I have is that Simpson is seriously ill and no longer able to compose. Our thoughts and prayers go out in his behalf.
Karl W. Nehring
The $ensible Sound, issue 57