BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins

Tippett Symphonies 1 & 2


IF THE orchestral works of Suffolk-born Sir Michael Tippett are belatedly winning appreciative reappraisal, Scottish musicians are very much to the fore of that process. Following the award-winning recording by Steven Osborne and the BBC SSO of his Piano Concerto on a Hyperion double set that also includes all four Piano Sonatas, conductor Martyn Brabbins and the orchestra turn their attention to the symphonies. Over a decade separates Tippetts First and Second after he had disowned an earlier attempt at the form written in his late twenties. They are very different beasts too, the second both a more coherent work in itself but also more beholden to the influence of other composers of the time, particularly Benjamin Britten in the long slow second movement.

Yet structurally the two works are quite similar, and Brabbins demonstrates a beautiful understanding of that in his direction of both works, allowing those lengthy second movements to speak at their own pace before the sparkle of the third movement scherzos. Tippett’s music may not have been very fashionable at the time, but these works sit comfortably in a longer continuum now.

Beautifully recorded in Glasgow’s City Halls just under a year ago, they also give the orchestra’s wind soloists the opportunity to shine, alongside the beautifully balanced string sound.

Keith Bruce