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Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, October 2009

Considered a momentous achievement in music, this is definitely one of the best symphonies to come out of England during the first half of the 20th century.

The first movement in particular is written on a grand scale, propulsed ever forward by a great sense of momentum and ever increasing tension, with moments of dark melancholy and contemplation. Throughout the whole movement, conflicts arise between different sections of the orchestra, adding to the mounting tension and built up energy, that finally gets released at the very end in an amazing fashion. The second movement, Presto con malizia (malicious) is a tour de force in devilish rhythms and off-beat accents all put together with great craftsmanship. Some of the main ideas from the opening movement are re-introduced in the third, slow movement, but are now given a darker, more emotional treatment, and the movement ends in hushed resignation. The final movement opens with a ceremonial sounding fanfare, and the central section of the movement is a fugue written on a grand scale with, again, plenty of momentum and energy. The fanfare returns to finish the symphony in an impressive display of resolute determination.

This 1994 recording under Paul Daniel is a clear front runner for this symphony, and was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice the year it was released.

Penguin Guide, January 2009

In the First Symphony Paul Daniel knows unerringly how to build up tension to breaking point before resolving it and then building again. He is also freer than many in his use of rubato, as well as in the degree of elbow-room he allows for jazzy syncopations, always idiomatic. The Scherzo is sparkily witty, not just full of malice. In the slow movement, after the poised opening, Daniel tends to press ahead slightly for the sections which follow, agonizingly intense. The finale with its brassy, more extrovert manner has plenty of panache, and the weight and bite of the sound are excellent. This is version that vies with even the finest at whatever price, and it outshines most. Daniel’s reading of the Partita brings out above all the work’s joyfulness, with the outer movements relaxed in their brilliance and the central slow movement warmly expressive.

Edward Greenfield
Gramophone, April 2002

"What is remarkable about the Daniel version is the transparency of sound, more detailed and more open than any other. Nor is there a lack of body in the string sound, which isn't opulent but has freshness and clarity. As for the reading, it rivals even Previn/LSO and Thomson for the way the tension is maintained at high voltage from the start, again with the most idiomatic feeling for jazzy syncopations and dramatic control of agogic hesitations for extra emphasis."

Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, August 2000

"Daniel is fierce, energetic, fast, and driven, particularly in I."


"Irrespective of price, this is a version of the much-recorded symphony that competes with the finest ever, and outshines most"

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