ROBERT SIMPSON (1921-1997): Symphony No. 5 (London Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Davis. May 3, 1973), Symphony No. 6 (London Philharmonic Orchestra; Charles Groves. April 8, 1980).
Catalogue Number: 04W009
Description: Vintage live performances of two major English symphonies with some vintage review excerpts: Simpson wrote his Fifth Symphony in 1972 in response to a commission by the London Symphony Orchestra. The first performance of the symphony took place on 3 May 1973 at the Royal Festival Hall, under the direction of Andrew Davis. Desmond Shawe-Taylor, in a review in the Sunday Times headed “Power of Robert Simpson”, detected “some shattering personal crisis” and observed that the 4th and 5th Symphonies “compel all but the most rigidly advanced of listeners to take a closer look at this remarkable composer.” He found the Fifth “bolder, tougher and more mysterious in substance.” Simpson’s Sixth Symphony, of 1977, was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with funds provided by the Arts Council. It received its premiere performance on 8 April 1980 at the Royal Festival Hall with The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Charles Groves. Edward Greenfield wrote in his Guardian review: “Happily Dr Simpson’s metaphors are incidental to his genuinely musical imagination. So after the fragmentary germinal motives at the start, he turns very quickly to a bold tonal melody such as Nielsen might have written. One might even say that another of Dr Simpson’s great influences is represented too; he has often acknowledged his debt to Beethoven and here he has in effect written a Pastoral symphony for the 20th century, a view of nature observed not through the eye of the individual but through the microscope.”