"Morning Heroes" by Sir Arthur Bliss. Perf. Samuel West, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis (cond.). BBC Radio
3, 16 May 2015. BBCiPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/dd595600-014b-498a-971d-c67198487f88
First performed in 1930, Morning Heroes is a choral symphony written in the aftermath of World War I in memory of the
composer's brother Francis, one of the millions who perished during the conflict.
It is an unsettling work, designed to exorcize the composer's recurrent nightmares about the war. For the drama reviewer,
its chief interest consists in the extracts spoken by the narrator (Samuel West), that range from Homer's "The Iliad,"
to Walt Whitman's "Drum Taps," to Wilfred Owen's "Spring Offensive," and Robert Nichols's "Dawn on
As performed by West, these extracts came across as extremely powerful, making listeners aware of the sheer pointlessness
of the conflict, especially when compared with the great deeds of the ancients. Sometimes West tended to over-emphasize his
delivery, in a fashion very reminiscent of the late David Hemmings, whose narration on Rick Wakeman's bestselling Seventies
album "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" was a masterpiece of overstatement.
Nonetheless, the listening experience was a powerful one, making one question why Bliss's work has been accused of complacency
(in "The Penguin Guide to Classical Music").