Known for his popular salon pieces, John Foulds was much less recognized for his large orchestral works, and few of these were played or published when he was alive. His lush and mystically charged works spring from the influence of the late Romantics, such as Strauss and Elgar, yet they also have a strong Impressionistic quality, which puts Foulds much closer to Holst, Ravel, or, at his strangest, even Scriabin. The Three Mantras from the unfinished opera Avatara, the concerto for voice and orchestra Lyra Celtica, the quasi-concerto for violin Apotheosis, and the "music-poem" Mirage represent Foulds' unique blending of exotic scales and folk themes with European symphonic styles -- perhaps not comprehensible to his contemporaries, but easy to appreciate now as a visionary approach for the time. Mezzo soprano Susan Bickley is fascinating to hear as she performs the microtonal vocal part of Lyra Celtica with grace and apparent ease, and violinist Daniel Hope plays Apotheosis with an appropriate balance of sweetness and dark melancholy. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, led by Sakari Oramo, is evocative and often quite dazzling, and the CBSO's Youth Chorus is wonderfully pure and haunting in the second movement of Three Mantras. Warner's sound quality is decent, though a little soft.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Three Mantras from Avatara, for orchestra, Op. 61b|
|Lyra Celtica, concerto for voice & orchestra, Op. 50|
|Apotheosis (Elegy), for violin & orchestra (Music Poem No. 4), Op. 18|
|Mirage, for orchestra (Music Poem No. 5), Op. 20|