Humphrey Searle: Orchestral Works
‘His music can be, and often is, dramatic and powerful, but it can also be tender and warm and it can also show those elements of comedy and parody which he delighted in himself. [It] is, I admit, often difficult and tough. I happen to like that. Like Charles Ives, I like to have my ears stretched. It’s music which goes somewhere. It … progresses from point to point in a direct and logical way.’
This tribute to Humphrey Searle (1915-1983) captures the essence of his creative output. It was given by his friend and fellow composer Peter Racine Fricker, who declared he had been ‘fortunate to have known a person with such wit, warmth and wisdom’.
"All acquit themselves with great skill and, with Searle's birth centenary just passed, I reckon it's time to look at this material afresh. Good as these powerhouse works are tailor-made for the digital age and deserve up-to-date reportage" Gramophone Magazine
"The sound is more than acceptable given the recordings’ ages and mono provenances, making this another valuable reclamation from the Itter Broadcast Collection." Editor's Choice Classical Source
"Humphrey Searle is a composer who acts as an antidote to the anodyne ‘sub Einaudi’ music that seems so popular these days. His music owes much to the European romantic tradition. Yes, he uses serialism, but rarely as an end to itself. There are often lyrical themes and memorable fragments. Searle has written that “I am trying to write music first and use the twelve-note method afterwards”. Paul Conway conclude his liner notes by insisting that “serialism need not preclude emotional engagement at the basic human level, nor does it oblige a composer to neglect orchestral balance”. Lyrita’s new CD of music by Humphrey Searle proves conclusively that this is the case." MusicWeb-International
Searle was one of the foremost pioneers of serial music in the United Kingdom and used his role as a producer at the BBC from 1946 to 1948 to promote it. In a nutshell he wrote music incorporating elements of 12 tone serialism. It’s tough, dramatic and uncompromising but I urge potential listeners not to dismiss it as “squeaky door music” because it has many fine qualities in terms of drama, repose and orchestration. ‘His music can be, and often is, dramatic and powerful, but it can also be tender and warm and it can also show those elements of comedy and parody which he delighted in himself. [It] is, I admit, often difficult and tough. I happen to like that. Like Charles Ives, I like to have my ears stretched. It’s music which goes somewhere. It … progresses from point to point in a direct and logical way.’ All the music is well played with virtuosity and enthusiasm. When it comes to sound quality these tapes are in mono and were broadcast between 1966 and 1971. They are historic but hardly sonically ancient. There is slight hiss and a touch of minor hum but at no time do you have to “listen through” the recordings. The orchestral sound is punchy, clean and perfectly acceptable. There is nothing wrong with good mono! Searle is now on my radar and I must thank Lyrita for bringing his music life via Mr Itter’s tapes. This is highly recommended CD release and it offers excellent value at mid-price.John Whitmore, Musicweb - International