Chandos Records launches The Richard Hickox Legacy this June and July, an on-going series that will lead up to and continue beyond the fifth anniversary in November 2013 of the death of Richard Hickox.

Richly endowed with musical qualities, Richard Hickox was a great champion of neglected music in general and of British music in particular. His sudden death in November 2008 robbed the world of a most vital, industrious, and energising musician, whose discographical legacy remains a treasure trove of the record catalogue.

Early in his career, Hickox made distinguished recordings with both Decca and EMI, but the bulk of his recording activity was with Chandos Records (some 280 CDs), starting in 1988 with a magnificent performance of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.

As the Chandos catalogue testifies, his repertoire was enormous. Ranging from baroque to contemporary music, it included works by Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Telemann, Beethoven, Verdi, Menotti, and Prokofiev, to name only a few of his enthusiasms outside the large field of British music.

Hickox was supreme at bringing music alive, both in the concert hall (he was an inspirational figure in some key music festivals, notably the Spitalfields Festival and the St Endellion Festival) and in the recording studio, his CDs earning him many awards. In 2006 he received his fifth Gramophone Award for his recording of sea songs by Stanford (Editor’s Choice). He also received Gramophone Awards for his recordings of Britten’s War Requiem (1992), Delius’s Sea Drift (1994), Walton’s Troilus and Cressida (1995), and Vaughan Williams’s A London Symphony (2001). He won a Grammy Award for his recording of Britten’s Peter Grimes (1996), two Music Awards from the Royal Philharmonic Society, the first Sir Charles Groves Award, the Evening Standard Opera Award, and the Award of the Association of British Orchestras. He was an Honorary Fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge, where he had been an Organ Scholar, and in 2003 received an Honorary Doctorate of Music at Durham University. His most prestigious recognition outside academia came in 2002 when he was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours List.

The first seven titles chosen for the Richard Hickox Legacy highlight key aspects of Hickox’s recording activity for Chandos: the energetic exploration of neglected repertoire, his championing of British composers, and his special affinity with choral music. These qualities are well displayed in the pioneering account of The Canterbury Pilgrims by Sir George Dyson, as well as The Light of Life by Sir Edward Elgar – a lesser-known but imposing work from the composer of the mighty The Dream of Gerontius. Vaughan Williams was always an inspiration to Hickox (who conducted the premiere recording of the original version of A London Symphony) who made revelatory recordings of two great but largely forgotten works by this master, A Cotswold Romance and the Death of Tintagiles. Apart from a couple of orchestral works, the music of Frank Bridge had been widely ignored until Hickox embarked on the complete cycle of his orchestral works, which revealed to the world what a remarkably varied and imaginative composer Bridge was; all six volumes will be released in an attractive box set for the first time. The reputation of Herbert Howells has reached new heights in recent years, no doubt helped by recordings such as Hickox’s of Hymnus Paradisi and the unusually conceived A Kent Yeoman’s Wooing Song. Hickox’s dedication to contemporary music is illustrated in searing performances of three works for voices and orchestra by Sir John Tavener, We Shall See Him as He Is, Eis Thanaton, and Theophany.


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