Henry Cotter Nixon orchestral series finishes strong

Toccata Classics have completed their Henry Cotter Nixon series. And I see the logic of their release schedule.

Nixon spent most of his career outside of Victorian London, and therefore in the margins of British music. He didn’t have the resources available to his cosmopolitan colleagues and composed accordingly.

The first volume of his orchestral music is, I think, the strongest of the three. The works have a fresh, original sound to them (while still retaining a charming Britishness). And leading with your best material is the logical way to establish a series.

Volume two had (in my opinion) Nixon’s less-successful orchestral works. They were well-written but suffered in comparison with the quality of volume one’s selections. This concluding volume gathers together Nixon’s remaining works, many in various stages of completion.

Only the Concert Overture No. 1 could be performed unedited. Paul Mann, the conductor, and driving force behind the series explains “everything else has been reconstructed, completed, or newly orchestrated from incomplete sources.” And, I think, Mann did an excellent job doing so.

Comparing the music across the volumes I didn’t hear anything uncharacteristic in Mann’s realizations. And the works he rescued are wonderful. I love the excerpts to Nixon’s uncompleted comic opera “The Gay Typewriters.” It has the light-hearted humor of Gilbert and Sullivan,  yet still in Nixon’s distinctive voice.

The Coronation March, written for a competition in 1902, is everything it should be. The music uplifts and inspires in a dignified fashion appropriate to the occasion.

Henry Cotter Nixon: Complete Orchestral Music, Volume Three
Kodaly Philharmonic Orchestra; Liepaja Symphony Orchestra
Ana Török, violin
Paul Mann, conductor
Toccata Classics TOCC 0523

 

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