Mathias Symphony No.3
These recordings were made within two years of the composer’s death. Her conducted the works on the first and supervised those on the second. Mathias wrote three symphonies and did so at the ages of 32, 49 and 57. He completed the last symphony within a year of his death and after the recording sessions for the first disc. There is a Sinfonietta which was initially called ‘Dance Suite’ written in the same year as the First Symphony. The choice of works for these two discs was apt and practically motivated. Until then only the First Symphony had been commercially recorded. The Oboe Concerto was a recent work and Helios and Requiescat were needed to complete the discography of Mathias’s sequence of single movement orchestral works.
The woodwind folk-dance segments of Helios (5.43) recall the Greek Dances of Skalkottas but also the more ambiguous and nuanced potency of Gordon Crosse's masterwork for oboe and orchestra Ariadne. There is a violent edge to this music whose tramping rawness is suggestive of the Cretan Minotaur. Many years before the same landscapes had inspired Carl Nielsen in his own Helios overture but the lambency of the Nielsen piece is very different from the engulfing flood of exultant light and danger that lends rampant power to Mathias's Helios even if at the end it fades into a chiming mysterious Baxian haze that links Druidic Cambria with Pagan Mediterranean pastures.