This first recording of Bantock's Sappho, written in 1906, reveals it to be a gorgeous song cycle of almost an hour's duration. The 'fragments' are all that remain of the work of the Greek poetess Sappho who lived c700BC, and Bantock has given her erotic and beautiful poetry a luscious late-romantic score for a vast orchestra. The piece is ravishingly sung by Susan Bickley.
The fifteen-minute Sapphic Poem, also written in 1906, is for cello and orchestra. Julian Lloyd Webber was given special permission to record it for us by Polygram, to whom he is exclusively contracted and to whom we are grateful.
This is our fourth Bantock CD. Like all the others, which have received ecstatic praise from press and public alike, it was recorded by Tony Faulkner. The sound is resplendent.
'Susan Bickley sings this erotic and exotic music with intense fervour. The Sapphic Poem is a companion piece and equally luscious' (The Sunday Telegraph)
'This really is most welcome ... an intoxicating celebration of love in all its guises ... Sappho held me pretty spellbound, even on first acquaintance. No praise can be too high for Susan Bickley … [and] Tony Faulkner's stunningly natural engineering complements what is another triumphant addition to Hyperion's ongoing Bantock series' (Gramophone)
'Sappho is a bewitching song cycle in 10 sections, so succulently using the mezzo voice. Sapphic Poem is an equally gorgeous score superbly played by Lloyd Webber' (The Yorkshire Post)
'This glowingly atmospheric account of an unjustifiably neglected score is in every way a worthy successor to the three previous releases in this rewarding series. Another top quality release from the Hyperion stable' (Classic CD)
A. K. W. Meyer in FonoForum 3 / 98: "Susan Bickley setzt diese dankbaren Lieder für Mezzosopranistinnen des mittelschweren Fachs mit Noblesse und Geschmack um, gestützt von einem unter der Leitung von Vernon Handley extrem klangschön aufspielenden Royal Philharmonic Orchestra."
Sappho (Vorspiel und 9 Fragmente für Sopran und Orchester)