CONSTANT LAMBERT Conducts Lambert and others – Living Era Classics

by | Dec 3, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Constant Lambert = The Rio Grande for Piano, Chorus and
Orchestra; Horoscope–Ballet Suite; WALTON: Façade; MEYERBEER (arr.
Lambert): Les Patineurs–Ballet Suite; CHABRIER (arr. Lambert):
Ballabile–Ballet; LISZT (arr. Lambert): Galop – A.W. Whitehead, solo
(Rio Grande)/ Sir Hamilton Harty, piano (Rio Grande)/ The Halle
Orchestra/ Constant Lambert and Dame Edith Sitwell, reciters (Façade)/
Sir William Walton, conductor/ The Liverpool Philharmonic and
Philharmonia Orchestra (Horoscope)/ The Sadler’s Wells Orchestra
(Meyerbeer)/ Philharmonia Orchestra (Chabrier and Liszt) – Constant
Lambert, conductor

Living Era Classics AJC 8558 mono,  74:09  (Distrib. Koch) ****:

Constant Lambert (1905-1951) made a colorful, powerful sensation in the
first half of the 20th century, serving as composer, conductor and
brilliant chronicler of the trends of contemporary music in his volume
Music, Ho! (1934). Lambert first came to my attention via his fine
score for the film version of Anna Karenina starring Vivien Leigh and
Keiron Moore. The Rio Grande (1927) is Gershwin and jazz riffs
cross-fertilized by Beethoven’s Op. 80 Fantasia. Lambert combines any
number of Mexican-Brazilian dance rhythms with a labyrinthine text by
Sir Sacheverell Sitwell and a daunting piano part, here exercised
flawlessly by conductor Hamilton Harty. The pulsing rhythms and
primitive energy seem to come from the same sensibility that produced
Milhaud’s La Creation du Monde and Vachel Lindsay’s poem “Congo.” 
The noise-free remastering of the 1930 recording is a model of its kind.

Horoscope (1938) is a Glazounov derivative written for Margot Fonteyn,
featuring dances recorded for CBS 1945 and 1949 with two separate
orchestras. The woodwind and string writing is particularly
transparent, favoring the French style. The Valse for the Gemini
remains the instant crowd-pleaser, with its suggestions of Lambert’s
many hours as a Tchaikovsky exponent in the ballet orchestra pit. The
1939 arrangement from Meyerbeer’s La Prophete, Act III pulsates with
the oom-pah-pah rhythm Verdi likewise found convenient for his own
purposes. Lambert’s arrangement of music by Chabrier, recorded 27
September 1950, comes close to being his last inscription prior to his
untimely death. Originally, the complete score had nine movements, with
others orchestrated by Felix Mottl and Robert Irving. The Galop from a
ballet entitled Dante Sonata derives from a record made 14 January
1949. It was available on an elusive CBS Entre LP.  Façade (28
November 1929) is William Walton’s musical answer to the poetry of T.S.
Eliot and Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, utilizing Edith Sitwell’s
ironic poetry on the post-war materialism and voluptuousness of the
times. The eleven sections receive expert leadership under the baton of
the composer, with Lambert and Sitwell’s delivery of the words in a
dry, blithe manner, the quiet recordings the product of a young Decca
record label.  Again, the transfer of the original shellacs has
been the soul of quiet, unobtrusive technology, and the results are
polished like the finest glass.

–Gary Lemco

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