Music of Edward Collins, Vol. VII

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Marin Alsop (conductor)

Catalog #: TROY0657
Release Date: May 1, 2004
Format: Digital

In his journal of November 7, 1939, Collins briefly notes that he is working on the score of the Ballet-Suite: The Masque of the Red Death. It was not completed until almost fifteen months later, and during that period, Collins often reflected in his journal about death. The passing of a favorite sister prompted him to question the nature of individual mortality. The Ballet-Suite was completed on January 29, 1940. Collins was not entirely pleased with it. In his journal he wrote: "Finished the 'Masque' at five-o-clock. I was terribly sick of it at the end, but I just had to finish it and I fear the Invocation Profane suffered, as it was the final fragment in the order of composition." Submitted as an entry for a competition sponsored by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Masque also caused its composer some other discomfort. He worried about the reaction of his former teacher and friend Rudolf Ganz. Two days after the completion, he was more positive, noting in his journal that "I wrote the Masque faster than anything in my life". Despite the composer's caveats, the lurid drama of Red Death prompted a vivid score, before which Collins included his synopsis of the story by Edgar Allen Poe (which is included in the program booklet). This CD likely contains the first of several orchestral and piano solo variations on the Irish "potato famine" folksong, O! The Taters they are small over here! On May 21, 1927, Collins's entry in his journal reads, "Only ten more days to complete the 'Irish Rhapsody'. The college orchestra will have difficult time learning the piece by the 20th of June." Students of the Chicago Musical College performed the premiere, conducted by Collins, then a member of the college's faculty. Collins mentions his Set of Four in two journal entries, referring to an Illinois competition that likely involved the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Frederick Stock. "May 28, 1925 One day nearer to catastrophe. After hearing the rehearsal this morning I am certain my Set of Four has no chance in Evanston. Lord help me! I am discouraged today and don't know exactly what to do." Despite the competition results, these four short orchestral pieces are typically well-crafted and full of atmosphere.


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Track Listing

Title Composer Performer
Ballet-Suite: The Masque of the Red Death Edward Collins Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conductor
Irish Rhapsody Edward Collins Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conductor
Set of Four Edward Collins Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conductor


  • "You may very well find this to be one of the most enjoyable novelties to come along in quite a while."

    – Classics Today

  • " these works, Collins didn't set out to rock anybody's world, but I found them an unexpected, pleasant, and relaxing indulgence."

    – American Record Guide

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