John Pitman Review: World premiere of Ethel Smyth’s only symphony
Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), is arguably the most important female composer of the 20th century, and more and more, becoming established as a major figure in classical music. Yet despite the inherent quality of her works, the great range of genres (her opera, The Wreckers, was the only opera by a female composer performed at the Met, until Saariaho’s L’Amour Loin in 2016), there are some works which have never been recorded. Her only symphony, The Prison (1930) has just been released in its world premiere recording (Chandos). You’ll learn more about this remarkable woman – a suffragette, by the way, as well as composer and conductor – in my conversation with the recording’s conductor, James Blachly. Both the conversation and the music, are revelatory.