The BBC Symphony Orchestra
Musical Opinion November - December 2002.
Anthony Milner died on 22 September
in Spain. He was 77. His obituary is in the early pages of this issue and welcomes
Claudio's timely reissue of these two digitally re-mastered by Colin Attwell.
They were recorded in BBC's Maida Vale Studio 1 on 11 November 1984 with the highly
experienced Andrew Keener as Producer. The Variations for Orchestra were first
heard at the 1959 Cheltenham Festival and I well remember Sir John Barbirolli
virtually bouncing onto the platform before they began. This may have been the
impetus for, and background to, the work, and although the composer details the
event with which each variation is concerned, the score is best heard as an abstract
The score of Milner's First Symphony is headed by a quotation
by John Keats' Endymion and is in seven uninterrupted sections, thematically integrated
and leading to a remarkably triumphant finale.
 Variations for Orchestra Op.14 (31:48)
 Symphony No. 1 Op. 28 (29:22)
from left-hand panel
This CD offers a good introduction to the music
of the composer whose personal reticence in that capacity undoubtedly contributed
to his music's unjust neglect. The Conductor Lionel Friend was one of Milner's
students and brings a special understanding to these scores.The BBCSO obviously
relished the craftsmanship in Milner's scoring and the Leader, Morris Brett, ensured
that the strings were warm and silky. Perhaps we can now hope for further CDs
possibly from the recordings which lie in the BBC's archives. To some extent the
15 variations, divided into groups of five, offer a single structure, three movement
symphony, strongly inspired by the Rosary whose so called "mysteries" consist
of meditations on events in the lives of Christ and His Mother.