Monday, April 4, 2016

South African Orchestral Works - Gideon Fagan, Concert Overture in D - Ilala (Tone Poem) - W.H. Bell, A South African Symphony - National Symphony Orchestra of the South African Broadcasting Corp. - Richard Cock, Peter Marchbank - Marco Polo 1995

Here's a nice release that likely 99.9% of collectors never knew existed; make that double since there  is another "South African Orchestral Works" cd which although not labeled is considered Volume 1.
There isn't much music available by the composers at hand, although the aforementioned S.A.O.W. Vol. 1 contains Fagan's "Karoo Symphony" and there is a great recording of W.H. Bell's Viola Concerto, "Rosa Mystica" on Dutton Epoch that I posted quite awhile ago:

Gideon Fagan's "Concert Overture in D" sounds somewhat like early Sibelius (the opening main theme could fool many listeners in fact!),  and it's a whistle-worthy and tuneful work. The Tone Poem "Ilala" is mostly pastoral in mood. The notes describe Ilala as expansive with music that suggests the wide open spaces of Central Africa. That I can hear. The notes continue, and I'm quoting: "The work is also characterized by very strong African rhythms" This is puzzling and nonsense imo as I do not hear a single note that suggests African music whatsoever, indigenous or otherwise. It's a nice piece, but don't waste time looking for the "local flavor".

Gideon Fagan

W.H. (William Henry) Bell's "A South African Symphony" is a sweeping, energetic work and a worthy addition to anyone's library - not to mention important in that one would be hard-pressed to list almost any symphonies penned in South Africa. Bell wrote four symphonies (this is his 4th) however I don't know if the other three have been performed at all. I for one would be most interested  to lend an ear!

W.H. Bell

Here is a link to a good bio on Gideon Fagan:,_Gideon.html

And a small bio on W.H. Bell, although the liner notes here say mostly the same thing:



cjvinthechair said...

Yes - SA music..rarity indeed. Had forgotten the Bell viola C., so have put it on now.
Seems as if most of his 'mature' music was written in SA, including Syms. 2,3,4,& no. 5 (from 1932, apparently ! ).
First time I've heard of Fagan !

Thanks for that, Mr. T. Hope things are being settled a little for you now so that life can go on more as it was.

Toon van Dijk said...

These composers are completely new to me.
Many thanks and regards from The Netherlands.
Veel dank en groeten uit Nederland,

Tzadik said...

Well hurrah, another triumph on my end Cjv!

I didn't realize that Bell wrote a 5th - great, now there's one more symphony by Bell that I won't
hear anytime soon : / Did you enjoy the Viola Concerto?

The Fagan is quite nice, if far from earth-shattering. Would be happy to become more familiar with his works as well, although there isn't a huge amount.

Thank you again for the kind wishes, things are ok, waiting on 'better'!


Tzadik said...

Hey Toon, I'm happy to here that they are new to you! Make sure you check out Bell's Viola Concerto then, I linked it to this post..


Toon van Dijk said...

Hello Tzadik, I have downloaded the Bell viola concert in January 1951. Being an amateur viola player I'm very keen on viola concerto's.
Regards from The Netherlands.

Tzadik said...

Wow amazed that you managed to download the post in 1951. Must have been the "beta dial-up modem"! Must have taken you................years ;)

So yes, I'm happy I provided the link, surprised you missed it the first time around!