Icon - Vernon Handley: Champion of British Music

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Icon - Vernon Handley: Champion of British Music
Vernon Handley (conductor) with Nigel Kennedy (violin), Piers Lane (piano) & Tasmin Little (violin)

[ Warner Classics / 5 CD Box Set ]

Release Date: Sunday 12 February 2017

Vernon George Handley was born in Enfield, London, in 1930. He disliked his first names and preferred to use the nickname Tod, given to him as a baby because he toddled along with his toes turned inwards.

Handley was a great champion of British music. His first recording, made in 1965 for a minor record label, was of Bax's Fourth Symphony with the newly-formed Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra. He then went on to record for Lyrita, another small independent company specialising in British music. In the early 1970s Handley started to record for Classics for Pleasure and went on to make many more recordings for both CfP and the main EMI label.

Probably because his professional appointments were nearly all in the UK, and the fact that he put great emphasis on performing British music, his reputation abroad wasn't as great as it deserved to be. He also devoted a great deal of his time to promoting the careers of young, up-coming, British musicians.

This set of 5 CDs showcases recordings of Handley conducting five of the UK's great orchestras. It was in 1984 with 'Tod' Handley that a 28-year-old Nigel Kennedy made his début recording of the Elgar Concerto, here heard on disc one. The first three CDs in the set comprise works by English composers; the other two illustrate Handley conducting two great concertos from the standard repertoire, both with Tasmin Little, and some charming Fauré and popular Russian music.

"Tod" Handley was a self-effacing, modest man who, nevertheless, did not suffer fools easily. This is illustrated no better than in his acceptance-speak at the 2007 Classical Brit Awards when he received the Lifetime Achievement award. A video of this is well worth seeing on YouTube. Handley died the following year.


Edinburgh Overture
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

In the Steppes of Central Asia
Hallé Orchestra
Prince Igor Overture
Hallé Orchestra

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
Tasmin Little (violin)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Pieces (2) for Small Orchestra
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Brigg Fair
London Philharmonic Orchestra

Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61
Nigel Kennedy (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra

Pavane, Op. 50
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Masques et bergamasques, Op. 112
London Philharmonic Orchestra

Eclogue, Op. 10
Piers Lane (piano)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

A Night on the Bare Mountain
Hallé Orchestra

Rimsky Korsakov:
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Hallé Orchestra
Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36
Hallé Orchestra

Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
Tasmin Little (violin)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Hamlet - Fantasy overture, Op. 67

Concerto for double string orchestra
London Philharmonic Orchestra

Vaughan Williams:
The Lark Ascending
David Nolan (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Symphony No. 2 'A London Symphony'
Diana Cummings (violin)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Variations on a Theme by Hindemith
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra