C0246. VERNON HANDLEY Cond. City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra: Checkmate; Adam Zero; Meditations On A Theme By John Blow (all Bliss). (U.K.) EMI 747712, recorded 1987-88. Final ever-so-slightly used copy. - 077774771221
"The conductor Vernon Handley was one of the finest masters of his craft and a tireless champion of British music. His recordings include much by Edward Elgar; the complete cycles of symphonies by Charles Stanford, Granville Bantock, Arnold Bax, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Malcolm Arnold and Robert Simpson; and a great deal by Frederick Delius, Rutland Boughton, Arthur Bliss, EJ Moeran and William Walton.
His chief mentor was Sir Adrian Boult. He wrote to Boult out of the blue and they became friends, with Boult taking the younger man on as his assistant. As a result, Handley learned restraint, that the conductor's gestures should be for the orchestra only, not the public. Indeed Handley 's podium behaviour was even less demonstrative than that of Sir Adrian. In a Handley concert there was little to watch, but everything to hear.
His features were unimpressive and his hand and arm movements meant little to the audience, but everything to orchestras, who habitually gave him everything they had. I have seen orchestras applaud him as he came on for the first rehearsal of a concert. I have also seen orchestras give him two lots of applause at the end, a rare accolade.
His repertoire was vast, although it was not based on Mozart and Haydn. He disliked Beethoven, and he was not fond of Mahler or Bruckner. His Brahms was fine and deep, and in 1984 he made a wonderful recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto with Nigel Kennedy and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
His forte was that span of English music from Stanford through to Walton and beyond, and those who heard him in that repertoire will not forget the passion, lyricism and sheer truth that he brought to it. We shall not forget him, because he has left us such marvellous recordings of the music he did best.
Handley communicated his love for music as though it were headline news, and we loved him for it.”
- John Amis, THE GUARDIAN, 11 Sept., 2008