Nice One for the Gipp(s)er

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

Ruth Gipps (1921-99) was a talented performing musician and educator. What she wasn’t was an especially interesting or original composer. The works here date from 1940 to 1972, but they all have a similar sound: conservatively tonal, kind of Vaughan Williams-ish (without the passion), neatly made, expressively kind of bland. Gipps fought tirelessly for recognition as a composer, facing down the indifference of the musical establishment due both to her sex as well as her chosen musical style, and I am not suggesting that she did not deserve more exposure than she received. Far less worthy figures surely got more attention. But the impression she makes on repeated listening is another matter entirely.

The earliest piece here, Knight in Armour, is perhaps the best, owing both to its brevity and range of contrast. Of the two symphonies the Second, in one movement, also comes across as a confident, tightly argued work that, even with its limited range of contrast, repays repeated listening. Once you’ve heard it, though, you might well experience the longer Fourth Symphony as more of the same, while the concluding Song for Orchestra is simply six minutes of agreeable fluff. The performances under Rumon Gamba certainly do the music justice. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales plays professionally (in a good way), and Chandos’ engineering serves the cause well. Not thrilling, then, but nice.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

    Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4; Knight in Armour; Song for Orchestra

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