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A.S.
14-10-2010, 10:07 PM
This thread relates to British musical composers from England, Scotland and Wales.

A.S.
14-10-2010, 10:16 PM
I'm ashamed to admit that I know very little about one of our treasured composers, Ralph (pronounced Rayf) Vaughan Williams apart from his The Lark Ascending.

Today, I was driving and listening to Radio 3 and it featured Vaughan Williams' score made for a short film made by the government's (recently disbanded) Central Office of Information (http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/1315336/index.html) in 1948, shortly after the end of WW2.

The radio programme is available for the next seven days here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v4s5c). The Vaughan Williams piece commences ten minutes into the program. As the presenter says, The Dim little island was made to cheer-up Britons after the war who, with good reason, felt that we had 'won the war but lost the peace' as the war effort had bankrupted Britain. To quote the British Film Institute -

"It is an oddly melancholic, tart little piece, which contradicts with its emotional tenor its own declarations of optimism. Jennings may not have set out to make an elegy for British things lately lost or about to be lost, but that is what resulted; and very fine it is, too".

It is a most beautiful piece. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The CD is available on Chandos CHAN10244 (http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product/Choice_VaughanWilliams/CHAN10244.htm). Streamed samples of other Vaughan Williams film music here (http://www.chandos-records.com/Sounds/WMAFiles/CHAN10244h.wma). And now to discover more about Vaughan Williams ...

P.C.
15-10-2010, 03:14 AM
Vaughan Williams is probably my favorite British composer (although Delius runs a close second) I have 27 cds of his music but this still only scratches the surface. I remember spending eight rather lonely weeks in Malta ( paintings and Drawing) listening repeatedly to his Symphonies ( nos 3 and 5 in particular as they are the most pastoral ) and being very homesick. Now that I've been living in the USA for the last 6 years I'm even more nostalgic towards his music!

Everything of his is of course worth listening just to. For starters I'd recommend his 9 symphonies (Andrew Davis, Haitink, Previn and Vernon Handley are good modern cycles) along with 'Job - A masque for Dancing'. His music drama 'Riders to the sea' is wonderful and very moving by it's ending.

His chamber music is also lovely. His Violin Sonata and Fantasy Quintet are favourites of mine.

Finally an early piece of his the Norfolk Rhapsody no.1 can easily bring me to tears invoking as it does the British landscape.

In fact I'm going to listen to it right now ( Haitink's recording) on my M30s.

macraddy
15-10-2010, 11:11 AM
20th Century British composers are amongst some of my favourites. Another vote here for Haitink’s VW cycle. (Boult I think is very good with VW too.)

I love the music of Ireland, Bax, Bridge and Alwyn. All wrote stunning music for piano and chamber ensemble and I think the Alywn and especially Bax symphonies are absolutely wonderful. We’re served well by Chandos, Naxos and small labels for much of this underrated music. I’m a fan of the young pianist Ashley Wass who’s been active in this area with Naxos for a while now, both as a soloist and in an ensemble.

The past had given us some stunning British music too, clearly Tallis, Byrd and Purcell. But Fayrfax, Taverner, Dowland and Field also deserve honourable mention!

KT88
15-10-2010, 12:53 PM
The Lyrita label is a treasury of music, celebrating the great and highly under-rated composers of England.

The brass section of the orchestra in which I perform (www.nvs.org) is always bugging the maestro to program a concert of all English music...but thus far, to no avail!

Bob LaBarca
Principal Trombone
Nittany Valley Symphony
State College, Pa
USA

keithwwk
17-10-2010, 11:57 AM
Thank you Alan for the wonderful introduction.

I know very very little about Vaughan Williams. I knew him when I learnt a guitar work call Fantasia on "Greensleeves" in my secondary school day. Then I fell in love with his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. Very very nice feeling...Then I bought a Decca 2CDs albums that including the The Lark Ascending, very nice English Folk Song Suite and same others..

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kiNTrr33L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41PYWRH66TL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

P.C.
17-10-2010, 04:04 PM
The Lyrita label does have some nice stuff. I have a box set of George Lloyd symphonies and a few Rubbra cds.

For Vaughan Williams fans I would also recommend seeking out the works of these lesser known British composers:
Gerald Finzi ( his 'Eclogue' is wonderful) , Herbert Howells and Howard Ferguson.

If you like vocal music Peter Warlock and Ivor Gurney are worth a listen.
Finally the tragically short lived George Butterworh (1885-1916) small body of work is lovely. His Orchestral Rhapsody ' A Shropshire Lad' is very moving.

denjo
02-11-2010, 01:36 AM
Sir Edward Elgar is my favourite English composer, especially his Pomp & Circumstance Marches! We use one of the variations for our University convocation and it never ceases to bring a tear to my eye when I look at the students I taught and how they 'grew' iin the 3 years they were in the University, with parents filled with pride looking on! His Salut D'Armour is also one of my favourite solo piano pieces.

weaver
02-11-2010, 01:00 PM
Ralph Vaughan Williams is Radio 3 composer of the week (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00d3p1w) this week (12 - 1 each day) and on iPlayer/listen again.

opus111
18-12-2011, 05:52 PM
Well, I am not only the proud owner of two Harbeth speakers (C7 and P3) but also a member of the RVW Society. There cannot be but a few German members. The British composers which I love very much, are only very rarely performed here in Germany. Berlin saw a Walton #1 last and an Elgar #1 this season.

But RVW and Elgar, Walton and Britten are only the peak of an iceberg - what about Finzi, Rubbra and Butterworth? There are quite a few more composers of considerable statue! And Germany in the 20th century? Next to nothing!

Hearing British music with my all-British setup (Harbeth - Sugden - QED) is wonderful. I love the British cultures and the literature more than most things German (with the exception of Schiller and Beethoven). And I grew up watching "All creatures".

One reason I like Harbeth speakers so much - apart from the pure musicality they convey - is, that they are a British product to the core. May it never change.

pkwba
16-06-2013, 05:42 PM
This year is Britten's 100th anniversary of His birth.

How this celebration translates into music labels activity?

My last findings (both cd and internet flac stream sales, also ):

1. Violin Concerto, Double Concerto & Lachrymae Anthony Marwood (violin), Lawrence Power (viola), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov (conductor), Hyperion
The next after Piano Concerto (2009 release, Steven Osborne - piano, enthusiastically received by musical press and listeners - many awards) Ilan Volkov's interpretation of Composer's bigger forms - very good, wit playing of both soloists. BBC Scots, as usual, in great condition.

2. Cello Symphony, Cello Sonata & Cello Suites , Alban Gerhardt (cello) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze (conductor) Hyperion 2013
I was very curious how very well known early music violinist and performer would read Britten's masterpiece so familiar to audiences while being promoted years ago by great Mstislav Rostropovich. The result is very interesting, superb disposition of cellist - his rendering not-easy, late cello suites - outstanding.

3. Decca's "The Complete Works", officially to be released tomorrow, 17th June.
Also some interesting, less known original performances of Composer registered by Decca. Maybe not cheap investment into His music but very referencial. "Peter Grimes" under Composer's button in Walthamstow Assembly Hall under the auspices of Covent Garden is unique performance. Real magic. Also, if you can find, try the reading this opera from Sir Colin Davies - lately re-issued by UMG in Originals series. The "Gloriana" under Sir Charles Mackerras at the Welsh National Opera is also an asset to this very extensive Composer's opera omnia (my first brief feedback - 65 cd set!).

4. Violin Concerto, op 15 Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra / Witold Rowicki / Wanda Wilkomirska, violin / The Royal Festival Hall, London - Recording: 7th April 1967
Amazing reconstruction of very skillful recording from RFH. German Record Critics’ Award in the historical recordings category in 2012. Performance and recording 3 years predecessor to Composer's own "take" at Decca with Mark Lubotsky.
http://www.orchestralconcertcds.com/cd/cd012.html (sound sample you can hear there is of low quality!!! but gives a view on how exceptionall this performance was.)

Rowicki's rendering is somehow special - great friend of the greatest contemporaries - composers and connoisseur of contemporary music, approaches to this masterpiece with great attention, playing a bit more slowly but giving a rich palette of sounds instead and letting violinist for very intimate dialogue with orchestra in the way this concerto deserves for.

Another review - http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2011/Dec11/Britten_VC_CD122011.htm

More about great Wanda herself, her youngish wilfulness while working on this concerto with Sir John Barbirolli can be read at http://sigridharris.wordpress.com/2007/11/25/interview-with-a-famous-violinist-wanda-wilkomirska/
Also could be interesting to watch how she played year later - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLYY6Knc77w (Capriccio for violin and orchestra written specially for her).

4. The new recording of "War Requiem" to be released by Signum Records under The Winged Lion label probably in September this year - Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli Consort & Players.

More information - http://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/paul-mccreesh-and-his-gabrieli-musicians-record-britten%E2%80%99s-war-requiem
I eagerly anticipate this new approach to Composer's oratorio - it's not so frequently to both hear and buy a new recording of this important work (latest I have in my collection is of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins 1995). Besides recorded in the same hall the Composer worked years ago.

It is worth to click on EACH of blue links in a/m Gramophone post -you will encounter how much good can be done by open-minded people who have strong will to move the music forward.
Someone said or wrote many years ago that the best in the nation can be found in the outskirts of the country (Taplow, Manchester, Ulster, East-North England, Brinkburn Music Festival). Still up-to-date statement. And for many nations.
Watch http://www.gabrieli.com/multimedia/video0.html

It is our privilege and honour that our city can somehow support (Wratislavia Cantans and National Forum of Music) that great early music performer, also very comprehensive conductor and choirmaster with his associates in their pursuit to next stages of excellence. Also in Britten commemorating.

And your tips for Britten?

{Moderator's comment: fabulous contribution: very many thanks}

A.S.
30-06-2013, 01:02 PM
Recommended (sounds very nice on my Sony CD boombox): Sir Adrian Bolt conducting Holsts' Planet Suite (1973 analogue BBC Prom recording) free as the cover disk on the Proms edition of BBC Music magazine, July 2013.

I was first introduced to The Planets in musical appreciation class at school over forty years ago, around the time of this performance. I'd forgotten how wonderful it is. An ideal beginners introduction to serious music?

pkwba
05-07-2013, 12:36 PM
Recommended (sounds very nice on my Sony CD boombox): Sir Adrian Bolt conducting Holsts' Planet Suite (1973 analogue BBC Prom recording) free as the cover disk on the Proms edition of BBC Music magazine, July 2013.

I was first introduced to The Planets in musical appreciation class at school over forty years ago, around the time of this performance. I'd forgotten how wonderful it is. An ideal beginners introduction to serious music?

Try to get Neville Marriner/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with Abrosian Singers recording on Philips also from '70s. I have heard many fantastic ones from the best orchestras and their great conductors (Boult, Bernstein, Karajan, Mehta, Ozawa, Previn, Rattle, Davis, Haitkink, Gardiner, Slatkin to name few of Them only...) but this one ... is somehow the most magical. Today listeners forgot how great conductor Sir Neville is .....

jplaurel
06-07-2013, 07:44 AM
Just this morning, I was listening to John Hebden's 6 Concertos for Strings Op. 2 performed by Cantilena and conducted by Adrian Shepherd. It's a pity that he didn't compose more music during his lifetime.

Kap Horn
06-07-2013, 01:28 PM
And your tips for Britten?
I prefer the violin concerto by I.Haendel and Bournemouth Symphony/Berglund, recorded in '77 (EMI) and the piano concerto with Richter under Britten himself (DECCA 1970).

Another recommendation is Britten's Nocturnal op.70 for classical guitar, recorded by Julian Bream 2 or 3 times - at least in the remarkable film "My life in Music", the life story of Bream.

Beside that the english composers of the Elizabethan age are worth to be discovered, e.g. the lute music by Dowland, Byrd etc.. Julian Bream was a great ambassador for this kind of music ("was" means that he stopped touring in 2002).

Listening to these smooth and atmospheric RCA recordings by this famous Englishman via a Harbeth 30.1 - it's really a dream.

tmokbel
06-07-2013, 08:31 PM
I'm ashamed to admit that I know very little about one of our treasured composers, Ralph (pronounced Rayf) Vaughan Williams apart from his The Lark Ascending.

Well I'm ashamed to have only found out about Michael Tippett. I managed to find today for S$4 (about £2) an original LP of Tippets 3rd Symphony conducted by Sir Colin Davis and the LSO - if an LP is that cheap, i'll take it. A very different and individual style of music compared to say the beautiful and late romantic British sound of RVW.

pkwba
07-07-2013, 11:04 AM
Well I'm ashamed to have only found out about Michael Tippett. I managed to find today for S$4 (about £2) an original LP of Tippets 3rd Symphony conducted by Sir Colin Davis and the LSO - if an LP is that cheap, i'll take it. A very different and individual style of music compared to say the beautiful and late romantic British sound of RVW.

No surprise, Tippet belongs to the next generation of 20th century composers, born around 1900 -1916, for British ones, lets name few only - Benjamin Britten, Lennox Berkeley, Malcolm Arnold, no wonder his compositions are and must be different. The second part of the 2nd Symphony - Adagio molto e tranquillo is really beatiful one - can you hear harp, and many wind instruments interweaving with aid of strings ? Tippet himself was the apprentice of Adrian Boult, the orchestration of the symphony is masterful.

The recording you mention is a real gem (Argo / Decca); Sir Colin (RIP Great Conductor) and LSO were the first performers of this piece, for sure after thorough consulting and trials in presence of Composer, therefore they are regarded to be referential. The 4th symphony was commissioned by Georg Solti and first performed with CSO. What's interesting, the most important output of Sir Michael's compositions is dated after Second WW ,when He reached his forties and later in His life.

Try to find the rest of these Decca's recordings either on LPs or CDs (they were reissued by Decca in the form of 2cd box as I can recall in the beginning of this century), other notable recordings of Tippet's symphonic works are those of Bournemouth SO under baton of Richard Hickox (who left us suddenly much too early in 2008, a very important name and an expert in conducting contemporary music) released by Chandos Classics.

Contemporary music is not so difficult as some (I try to be polite so that not to describe them exactly....) say. Besides what a contemporary music is above mentioned one? Composed 6, 5 or 4 decades ago!

KT88
07-07-2013, 09:16 PM
It's come to my attention that the entire Lyrita catalog has now been reissued on CD.

Wonderful sound, many of them engineered by the legendary Kenneth Wilkinson, and an absolute treasure trove of English music. Check out any of the symphonies composed by George Lloyd, just one example of these truly unsung British heroes!

pkwba
07-07-2013, 11:20 PM
It's come to my attention that the entire Lyrita catalog has now been reissued on CD.

Wonderful sound, many of them engineered by the legendary Kenneth Wilkinson, and an absolute treasure trove of English music. Check out any of the symphonies composed by George Lloyd, just one example of these truly unsung British heroes!

Yes, the Lyrita label is extraordinary one.

Both Tippet and Lloyd will be played at this year BBC Proms (they start on 12 July).

Lloyd - "Requiem" and "HMS Trinidad March";
Tippet - "Symphony No. 2", "Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli", "The Midsummer Marriage", "Concerto for Double String Orchestra", "Little Music for Strings", so quite a lot of his live music in the next weeks.

I don't know yet whether all this year proms will be live broadcasted and/or retransmitted by BBC3.

For those who would like to make friends with Tippet's 2nd symphony and his music generally I would recommend folowing link - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b01rw2kr, Stephen Johnson explores Tippett's Symphony No 2. Enjoy!

tmokbel
11-07-2013, 06:54 PM
The recording you mention is a real gem (Argo / Decca); Sir Colin (RIP Great Conductor) and LSO were the first performers of this piece, for sure after thorough consulting and trials in presence of Composer, therefore they are regarded to be referential.

Hello pkwba,

Thought I'd attached the front cover of the record. It's on the Philips label. Think I'll be on the look out for a few more Tippett / Sir Colin gems...

http://i1325.photobucket.com/albums/u629/tmokbel/16GB_836_zps579ca446.jpg (http://s1325.photobucket.com/user/tmokbel/media/16GB_836_zps579ca446.jpg.html)

pkwba
12-07-2013, 04:25 AM
Hello pkwba,

Thought I'd attached the front cover of the record. It's on the Philips label. Think I'll be on the look out for a few more Tippett / Sir Colin gems...



Hello,

Decca's (or better UMG's) aggregated reissue on CDs:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kzcVZDG%2BL._SY450_.jpg

Interesting article also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalmusic/9605317/Michael-Tippett-a-visionary-in-the-shadow-of-his-rival.html


First recordings (the 3rd Symphony you already have got):

1. Tippett: Symphony No. 1, Birthday Suite Prince Charles, Colin Davis /LSO Philips LP 9500 107 EX

2. Tippett: Second Symphony, Colin Davis / London Symphony Orchestra, LP Argo ZRG535 1968

Decca’s archival description:

Davis Colin, Tippett - Second Symphony LP Argo ZRG535 1968 London Symphony Orchestra
Producer: Michael Bremner, Recording Engineers: James Lock & Alec Rosner
Recording 22&29 Mar 1967 Kingsway Hall
London Symphony Orchestra, Colin Davis
TIPPETT: Symphony No.2 [ARGO] (Jan68) RG535 = ZRG535, Reissue (Dec89) 425 646.2LM3

3. Symphony No. 4 and Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles. London LP, LDR71046 (vinyl, digital recording), also released under Decca label (US / UK label rights problems, now we have Big Brother – UMG :)).
also cd release:
Tippett: Byzantium, Symphony No. 4 Faye Robinson; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Sir Georg Solti DECCA CD 433 668-2 (reissue 1993)
Solti and the CSO recorded Tippett’s Fourth Symphony on October 29, 1979, at Medinah Temple. For London Records / Decca , the recording was produced by James Mallinson and James Lock was the engineer. A longtime friend of Sir Georg, the Composer was in Chicago for the rehearsals and performances.

Comprehensive information about Composer and his opera omnia:
http://www.schott-music.com/shop/persons/featured/sir-michael-tippett/works/

Tippet is worth listening, no doubt, enjoy!

tmokbel
12-07-2013, 04:57 PM
And what about Georg Friedrich Händel? (or George Frideric Handel if you prefer) German born, but became a naturalised British subject. Is he allowed to be included in British composers?

My classical library doesn't hold much from the Baroque period (though I do have quite a lot of Bach), but Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks is incredible - Very Royal Indeed!! I found a rather good LP the other day of this music by Sir Charles Mackerras and the LSO on EMI

pkwba
13-07-2013, 11:05 AM
And what about Georg Friedrich Händel? (or George Frideric Handel if you prefer) German born, but became a naturalised British subject. Is he allowed to be included in British composers*?

My classical library doesn't hold much from the Baroque period (though I do have quite a lot of Bach), but Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks is incredible - Very Royal Indeed!! I found a rather good LP the other day of this music by Sir Charles Mackerras** and the LSO on EMI

* Both British and German - even after settlement in London, Haendel had close contacts with his friends in Hamburg and other German cities (e.g. Brockes, Denner, Telemann, Mattheson), he spoke Italian (fluently), German and English (little by little better and better) with the staff of his operatic and musical troupes and bands, sponsors, landlords ... and King (guess in what language they conversed in more in private?) In the second part of 1720's he still was ordered to write music to German poetry (e.g. Nine German Arias revived to concert stages at the end of XXth century). His impact on British (also English language) culture is enormous and scarce to be repeated by any other musician. In Dublin, where premiere of The Messiah took place and Mr. Handel met great hospitality for more than a half year, each year, in the day of this premiere the commemorative open air concert holds place.

Examples of other composers (those that just come to my mind now), who could be regarded as multi-national:

1. John Field - and Irishman, friend of Muzio Clementi, who as a 20 year old man settled in St. Petersburg and although frequent tour artist, died in Russia. His impact on later musicians was substantial (Liszt, Chopin, contemporary German composers, Glinka (who took some piano lessons from him)). Father of nocturne.

2. Frederic (Fryderyk) Chopin - regarded by both Poles and French as their national composer.

3. Jan Lukáš Zelenka (Johann Dismas Zelenka) - brilliant Czech baroque composer, who lived and died in Germany (Dresden). The assistant of imperial composer Johann Joseph Fux in Vienna. A great friend of Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann Georg Pisendel and Sylvius Leopold Weiss. His music was brought to life by Bedrich Smetana in 19th century, who was intrigued by the frequent presence of Czech folk music in Zelenka's scores.

4. Sir Andrzej Panufnik - contemporary composer (and friend ) to Britten, Berkeley and Tippett, regarded to be both Polish (English mother) and British one, so well accepted and heartily supported by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Arthur Benjamin in GB.

5. Thea Musgrave CBE - one of the most important contemporary composers, since early 70s she has composed and taught (now professor in CU New York) in USA, but still composes also for European orchestras and musicians - is she Scottish, British or American?

**Buy everything you find conducted by Sir Charles and you won't be disappointed. Great conductor - the apprentice of great Czech musician and conductor Vaclav Talich. In his last years of activity Sir Charles made quite pretty whirlpool in brains of many blazed critics with his bravura reading mature Mozart symphonies - recorded with Scottish Chamber Orchestra for Linn Records. Sir Charles - Australian or ..... British conductor? :)

Józef Elsner (in German Joseph Elsner), born in those times Prussia, musically brought up in German culture Breslau, then Polish composer and great teacher of Chopin, with whom he corresponded until the end of his life, questioned by his friends to what nationality he belongs living in Warsaw for so long, he answered "Meine friends, I think I am a bit of both ones, but in my heart I have still remained Silesian".

The most important is that the culture overwhelms and wins over nationality (and nationalisms).

maxbertola
14-07-2013, 04:50 PM
I read this thread carefully twice before realizing that nobody apparently mentioned Frederick Delius. Yet, sometimes to me his orchestral sound, the strange quality of his melodies, always changing and never sticking to a 'theme' but constantly keeping you inside the 'flow', the elegance of the picture painted - everything seems to me to sum up for the epitome of the 19th century British composer.

M.

pkwba
14-07-2013, 11:55 PM
".... everything seems to me to sum up for the epitome of the 19th century British composer."

Delius. Yes very refined and elegant composer with great ease for melodies. But would you agree that somehow too much regarded as a late romantic epigone by critics? I think he is much more modern composer, similarly as Rachmaninov referring to classical and romantic forms of expression (e.g. his admiration of Scandinavian melancholic literaturę and music), but sonically more resembling French impressionism. His Piano Concerto in c-minor from 1897 (reworked in 1906) is one of such pieces, where one hardly could name it "post romantic" only. Especially when performed by experienced and of a great erudition Clifford Curzon (Clifford Curzon BBC SO / John Pritchard, live recording 1981, BBC Legends) whose rendering is neither sentimental nor pompous therefore giving us a richer and truer image of this masterpiece.

I would not say that piano part in this concerto is 19th century romantic. It is rather the outpost for XX century concertos.

For sure, Delius is worth remembering and listening to more of His compositions, not only for a few short orchestral pieces played and released again and again.

pkwba
28-07-2013, 06:22 PM
In all this richness and splendour of music and performers proposed by great BBC at their this year Proms I'd like to point your attention to maybe lesss spectacular, but not less important musically chamber venues.

1. Tomorrow, on 29th of July, a group of (rather) young artists will be presenting together with fenomenal Imogen Cooper a set of Britten's very famous, although partly not very easy songs and canticles:

- Canticle I 'My beloved is mine' - for tenor and piano, originally written for Peter Pears, but for Gods sake, don't treat it as majority now does, as any composer's gay manifesto - it's about all kind of love generally, earthly and eternal
- "A Charm of Lullabies" for mezzo-soprano and piano, written for Nancy Evans (first Lucretia's role in his "The Rape of Lucretia" in then newly formed English Opera Group)
- "Night Piece" (Notturno) for piano, it will be in Mrs Cooper's hands a small masterpiece, I am sure of this,
- "Songs from the Chinese" of 1957 for (mezzo-)soprano or tenor (!) and guitar - today performed mostly by ladies
- Canticle II "Abraham and Isaac" - written by composer in 1952for alto and tenor with piano accompaniment, first performed by Kathleen Ferrier Peter Pears , later by Janet Baker and Peter Pears at one of Aldeburgh festivals
- "Master Kilby" - a short folksong, arranged as frequently by Britten with great dose of liveliness sang both by male or female performers with guitar assistance

Imogen Cooper (piano) and James Gilchrist (tenor - Bach's Cantatas with Ton Koopman and Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra) or Christianne Stotijn (mezzo - the apprentice of Janet Baker) are already very renowned artists, who need no further recommendation to attain crowds of audience. I'd like to focus on younger female singer:

Ruby Hughes - (http://rubyhughes.com) proved fairly that since her London Handel Singing Competition first prize and graduating from Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Munich and Royal College of Music, London in 2009, she did not let the grass grow under her feet. Listen , please, to her early concert "O waly, waly" singing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72otvvS5_80), and one of her the latest performances in Mahler Rückert's Lieder "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3sQtfosCHM). Impresive, how much she has managed to enrich her naturally angelic, heavenly voice in such a short period of time. No wonder she has already got attention of such prominent artists as Harry Christophers, Jonathan Cohen, Paul Daniel, Paul Goodwin, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, Robert King, Juanjo Mena, Marc Minkowski, Gianandrea Noseda, Philip Pickett, Daniel Reuss, Andreas Spering, Christoph Spering, John Storgårds, Takuo Yuasa and others. Really, really impressive career as for four years time only.
I cannot find anywhere, although I'd like to listen to, her recordings of Britten or Mahler on CDs - another confirmation of Alan's bitter remarks about today condition of big and famous (in the past) recording labels.

A guitar accompaniment will be performed by Christoph Denoth of Switzerland.



2. On Saturday, 3rd August in Cadogan Hall, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, with Britten Sinfonia conducted by Sian Edwards, will be singing two very important musical pieces for contralto (mezzo -soprano) and orchestra:

- Lennox Berkeley's "Four Poems by St. Teresa of Avila" , written in 1947, regarded as one of the finest compositions, depicting us the scale of Berkeley's talent and His composing abilities, I used to listen to great Kathleen Ferrier's archival recording of this masterpiece some years ago in radio, but could not find any new cd release. Real rara avis , the set of poems very rarely performed,

- Britten's "Phaedra" - His last composition for voice and orchestra written in the form of cantata for Janet Baker to the poem of Jean Racine translated by Robert Lowell.
I know this very special masterpiece from Janet Baker, Ann Murray, late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson or recent Ruby Hughes readings, and I must say that in my personal opinion IT is the most important dramatic piece for (mezzo-)soprano and orchestra written ever by any British composer since Purcell and Haendel. Careful listening to this cantata confirms me in an opinion that unfortunately Britten left us much too early, in the period of constant developing and evolving his composing workshop. Listen to the last part - Adagio in which Phaedra sings (writes) her farewell words to betrayed husband ("My time's too short ...") - how the Composer builds up with strings Phaedra's mood of despair and the climate of horror... I really don't know whether Maestro was in any transcendent union with his contemporary younger colleagues - composers or.... was simply so brilliantly innovative in his musical language. One can hardly imagine what would be like His next works if he had lived longer (e.g late works of Stravinsky, Lutoslawski, Dutilleux or Henze).

Sarah Connolly's great voice, experience and sensitivity in singing both baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary music (from R.Strauss, Korngold to Tavener and M.A. Turnage) is a guarantee of great musical experience.


Enjoy!

pkwba
31-07-2013, 08:31 AM
The fresh review from the Proms Chamber Concert no3. can be read at http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_prom_review.php?id=11245.

The most right place and occasion to use by critic an aureate language here, and not in marketing audio leaflets or in audio press by golden ears , e.g. :"...but the relief of God’s intervention, stopping the sacrifice, was extremely well communicated by the two singers (James Gilchrist and Ruby Hughes), who ended facing each other in celestial harmony." No wonder, even without God's intervention 105% of male mankind would agree to be in any harmony with Ruby.
Until the last day before the concert I was not sure whether Christianne Stotijn, who, toghether with Simon Keenlyside so brilliantly coped with Thomas Adès's vocal tour de force in newly composed Totentanz, was to be replaced with Mrs. Hughes partly (soprano - mezzo-soprano) or altogether.

Those who could not hear the concert in live broadcast, still have a chance to watch and listen to it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01cmc2x.

Miles MG
31-07-2013, 11:12 AM
I was introduced to Vaughan Williams music through a friend who is a Vicar. It was ' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis ' , conducted by Adrian Boult, he first played me.

I don't think I had ever been touched so deeply by any classical music before. I went on to explore Williams' music and never looked back. Martyn Miles.

royals1871
31-07-2013, 04:11 PM
As I was in a Boys choir, we sang a lot of polyphony music.

The British ones I can remember was William Byrd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Pr0iFLtZ0
and Thomas Tallis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx-_XCOFX3g

pkwba
01-08-2013, 01:25 AM
I was introduced to Vaughan Williams music through a friend who is a Vicar. It was ' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis ' , conducted by Adrian Boult, he first played me.

I don't think I had ever been touched so deeply by any classical music before. I went on to explore Williams' music and never looked back. Martyn Miles.

I eagerly anticipate this year BBC Prom 71. RVW's Four Last Songs will be sang by young Jennifer Johnston with orchestra. Originally the set of four short songs was composed for voice and piano. BBC commissioned an orchestration from Anthony Payne, who came to prominence with his elaborating Elgar's schetches of 3rd symphony.
I wonder how young singer is going to interpret these seemingly "simple" pieces.
I like this set of songs of then old and mature composer (he started them when he was 82) - Master's very own songs, beyond the trends, - isms etc., very pure music to great poetry of his wife Ursula.

As a starter I propose to listen to "Tired" by American bass Jason Hardy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d7wNsJLqJQ. Two minutes that leave us speechless and breathtaking ....

The great interpreter of RVW songs is Ian Bostridge.

pkwba
02-08-2013, 09:36 PM
After three weeks of listening to BBC Proms via near field computer active monitors (via optical coupling) I decided to make an experiment with connecting my computer's quite good SB audio card directly to external amplifier and 3 way monitors. Total investment - around 5 pounds for small jack to stereo cinch 3.5m cable.

Naresh Sohal's "The Cosmic Dance" sounded really dynamic as it should be, now we are immersed in vitruosity of Kolya Luganski with Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto.

Each time I listen to him I recall the meeting and unforgettable discussion in late 70s about music we had as young high school students with legendary Tatyana Nikolayeva who was willing to have us after her concert in overcrowded filharmonic hall - Nikolai is from under her hand. She prepared him for both Bach and Rachmaninoff International Competitions which confirmed his outstanding pianistic talent and sensitivity.

I-player switched to HD sound of course :).

pkwba
03-08-2013, 06:08 AM
Below links to two reviews of Prom 26 concert (Henze, Stravinsky, Tippett):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/proms/10219239/Proms-2013-BBC-Symphony-Orchestra-review.html
http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/prom-26-serkin-bbc-symphony-orchestra-knussen

The examples of critics, who had already forged opinion how conductor should lead an orchestra to obtain their "best" interpretation of specific symphony I could cite in hundreds :).

I did not expect from Oliver Knussen (refined composer himself) to make any calque of previous achievements from e.g. Colin Davis or Simon Rattle in conducting Tippett's music and I was not dissapointed. He and BBC SO presented both complexity, sonoric values and originality of this symphony excellently and brilliantly.

What struck me in both above reviews is that gentlemen seemed to complain on RAH's acoustics. Any remarks of those who attended musical events in this venue? I listened to this concert live via I-player and was contented.

HUG-1
05-08-2013, 09:42 AM
The English Folk Dance and Song Society and their archive of over 200 years of traditional music. Link here (http://bit.ly/full323)

pkwba
07-08-2013, 06:44 PM
Regarding my post #26 and Sarah Connolly's recital last Saturday, its review can be read at http://www.bachtrack.com/review-bbc-proms-saturday-matinee-2-2013-britten-sinfonia-sarah-connolly

For me Sian Edwards' reading Gustav Holst's St Paul's Suite, Op.29 no.2 was extremely profound giving listener a tapestry of lively folk melodies woven with oriental ones. It was hardly not to notice Composer's fascination with Oriental culture (so common among European composers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries).

As for Tippett's Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli this performance shaw very well how original and unconventional Sir Michael was - these variations somehow reminded me later compositional workshop of Alfred Schnittke.

During short chat with radio announcer Sarah Connolly pointed out some rythmic connotations between Britten and Mahler while performing their works. And indeed Britten's attitude to Mahler was significantly different from that of majority of European composers in the first half of 20th century. He especially was fascinated with Mahler's 4h Symphony. More details can be read e.g here - http://goodmorningbritten.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/foundations-britten-and-mahler/ . No surprise - watch the last movement (Heavenly Life) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCsnpVYetMg. Unbeatable for so many years, notice Lenny's reaction after last notes of double basses had reverberated ...... sometimes the silence is the greatest reward.

I also heartily recommend today evening prom 32 - Edward Gardner and BBC SO will be presenting music of Lutoslawski and Holst. Relatively young Mr. Gardner and this radio orchestra proved to be in perfect harmony while having progressively, toghether with Sarah Connolly, Susan Gritton, Paul Watkins or Louis Lortie, built up a new musical library with works of Britten (also Lutoslawski) in the last few years - look for details at Chandos Records site.

Under Edward Gardner's baton Holst's great music should also sound fantastic this evening. Enjoy!

pkwba
14-08-2013, 01:54 AM
Here is the Andrew Clement's review from evening prom 32 (Holst, Lutoslawski) I mentioned in post #34 - http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/aug/08/prom-32-bbcso-gardner-review#start-of-comments.

As for Clement's descritption of Lutoslawski's piano concerto I'd like to add some explanations of the composer himself reviewed in 1990 (I hope I have translated it satisfactorily enough :)):

"Chopin played in my life a very important role and for me he is always the source of the strongest experience. He was a genius, which can be compared only with the biggest creators, such as Beethoven or Bach. Not surprisingly, it was my desire to have bit of Chopin - I would not say: to steal, but rather to “consume and digest him through” into my musical language, which is the result of several decades of my creative acting. And the echoes of Chopin can be found just in my Piano Concerto. Is it not the best place for Chopin? These echoes were introduced deliberately; I even tried to build all the score on the basis of them, but not necessarily on the basis of some tune borrowings from Chopin. The idea was a reference to the tradition of the great pianism of Chopin, Liszt, as well as Brahms. And the echoes of this pianism are in this concerto. I would not mind more fresh pianism, but I think that since the times of these composers only a bit was added by Debussy or Prokofiev. The exception is Messiaen, due to the fact that he is an organist thus keyboard is his element. In his pure piano pieces, as some of the 'Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus' he is the direct successor of Liszt, it’s quite obvious. There's even a piece from “Vingt Regards”, that one could consider as if it was written not by Messiaen but Liszt. And it is very beautiful. So I wanted to compose Piano Concerto as a relevance to Chopin, Liszt and Brahms. I think we should keep in contact with the great spirits of the past. It helps you elevate to some better spheres ...”

And now, after some digression let's go back to the main, British subject of this thread, although I ensure you that not only music from Isles sounds greatly via Harbeth loudspeakers ....

It is a great occasion for every music lover to have an availability during this year Proms being acquainted with variety of works composed by Gustav Holst, different from the one, which became his "trademark" - The Planets. Holst himself complained that this one piece gratuitously overshadowed the rest of his compositions. Today Holst is regarded as one of those 20th century composers, who, by means of his great talent and broad spectrum of inspirations ( culture of India, Orient, Renaissance and Baroque polyphony, British folk music, mystic poetry, broad choir introduction to other classical forms - symphony, fantasia, ballet music) created his very unique, unrepeatable musical style. What would be British choral music like without Holst? Much poorer, for shure.

I highly recommend to look for his other works, not less musically valuable or important:

From Hyperion Records (my first, almost twenty years ago encounter with his oeuvre, still available):
Choral Ballets - Guildford Choral Society, Philharmonia Orchestra, Hilary Davan Wetton (conductor) CDA66784, two late and one earlier choral - orchestral Holst's masterpieces
Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda - Holst Singers, Hilary Davan Wetton (conductor) CDH55050 with words translated by composer himself after studying sanskrit at London University
Choral Symphony & Choral Fantasia - CDH55104 Guildford Choral Society, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hilary Davan Wetton (conductor) with fantastic, pure voice of Lynne Dawson as a solo soprano, what a sound of recordings!
The Evening Watch & other choral works - Holst Singers, Hilary Davan Wetton (conductor) CDH55170

also much newer recordings from Chandos Records (in CD/SACD format):
Holst, Orchestral Works, vol.1: 'The Perfect Fool' ballet/ The Golden Goose/The Lure/Morning of the Year - CHSA 5069, Joyful Company of Singers, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox - one of the last recordings from unforgettable Richard Hickox,
Holst: Orchestral Works, Volume 2 - CHSA 5086 - Beni Mora, Japanese Suite,The Planets - Manchester Chamber Choir (Ladies voices), BBC Philharmonic, Sir Andrew Davis

I hope this Chandos release cycle will be continued, I'd like to have in my collection Composer's other works e.g new, good recording of Egdon Heath - extremely beautiful, unique Holst's late symphonic poem, tribute to Thomas Hardy.

Enjoy!

pkwba
16-08-2013, 11:46 AM
For those who got interested in Alan's acoustical analyses of his winged friends' tweeting chicks, which so easily accommodate in the property, I propose to zoom in concentration on prof. Edward Cowie's lecture on birds He had in Institute of Science in Society, London in 2011.

It lasts one hour but I guarantee you won't be bored listening to this Renaissance man - http://vimeo.com/24106950.

Edward Cowie's (former student and apprentice of Alexander Goehr from Birmingham School of Music, also pupil of Witold Lutoslawski, close friend of Michael Tippett) choral works in outstanding performances of top singers, musicians and conductors are available now at Signum Records - http://www.signumrecords.com/products/booklets/SIGCD331booklet.pdf.

Have a good time!

pkwba
31-08-2013, 06:04 PM
Another British label which commemorates Britten's 100 years birthday anniversary - Signum Classics:

1. The opera "Peter Grimes" - The Chorus of Opera North with the Chorus of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama / Britten–Pears Orchestra under baton of experienced conductor Steuart Bedford, who premiered some of Britten's works in 70s. Alan Oke as Peter Grimes, Giselle Allen as Ellen Orford, David Kempster as Captain Balstrode and Gaynor Keeble as Auntie. Live performance recording from this year 66th Aldeburgh Festival. First reviews underline the performance is more lively than finally "polished" as it happens in case of studio recordings with many takes, the best of them then included into recording. Unusually well recorded sound of Malting Snape Hall for Signum label by Mike Hatch from Floating Earth studio, awarded many times by industry for their live recordings, especially in classical music area. Great add-on to Britten's music lovers collection.

The most complete description can be found at www.signumrecords.com/products/booklets/SIGCD348booklet.pdf .

2. One of the most anticipated new renderings for Britten's War Requiem by the world renowned and hailed Paul McCreesh and his Gabrielli Consort & Players is due for release on September 2nd on Signum Classics in their exclusive Winged Lion series. The recording was taken in the beginning of this year in famous Watford Colosseum. The Conductor himself and stellar staff of soloists - Susan Gritton (she recently sung Ellen Orford's part in La Scala - more details at http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=OA1103D) , John Mark Ainsley and Christopher Maltman should guarantee the highest levels of musical experience.
More details on this new release, also a musical sample (Dies Irae) - look at http://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/paul-mccreesh-and-his-gabrieli-musicians-to-release-britten%E2%80%99s-war-requiem-%E2%80%93-hea

Enjoy!

BTW. Paul McCreesh is really sturdy and indestructible musician and man - last week he found few days in his crammed time schedule to come to us and give masterclasses for young choir conductors and also for newly founded Polish National Youth Choir. The very short movie from lessons can be found here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIfGZyNxmig.
Can you recognise whose choral piece they were practising?

Maestro is not only a great expert in early (broadly understood) music performance but also the real ambassador of British music in Europe - for last 20 years, also while being an artistic director of Wratislavia Cantans and frequent visitor to the most renowned musical halls and festivals in Europe, releasing the records, he acquainted audiences with music from Tallis or Byrd via Purcell, Handel and Arne, late British romantic, impressionist and neoclassical composers (the list would be really very long) up to Britten, Tippett, Howells, Tavener, Swayne, MacMillan and Ades proving that music form Islands wasn't and is not the pecular music from Outremer but important input to European and world music culture. His work at the foundations with young people singing and playing is quite exemplary and oustanding, inspires in youth great respect for the true values of the music.

Do they know that in Buckingham Palace?

pkwba
16-09-2013, 11:25 PM
Can you recognise whose choral piece they were practising?

It was Michael Tippett's "Nobody knows" from his "Five Negro Spirituals ".

And here we have fresh reviews of new releases, mentioned in my last post:

- Peter Grimes & War Requiem - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/d9c4358c-0df8-11e3-9fbb-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2f5yNEoXS

- More profound review of Paul McCreesh's reading War Requiem, written by contemporary British composer Robert Hugill - http://www.planethugill.com/2013/09/clarity-and-strength-britten-war-requiem.html

After first listening to this new cd I must agree with Mr. Hughill: "It is not a warm, romantic performance, but a very intense, powerful one".
Great kudos to recording staff - Nicholas Parker, Neil Hutchinson and Chris Roberts.

pkwba
22-09-2013, 06:54 PM
I recently found in our city library a cd with film music of Richard Addinsell released by ASV Records in 1999 "Richard Addinsell Film Music" (CD WHL 2115) performed by Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Kenneth Alwyn.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QdmQBIypL.jpg

Following this track I managed to buy at e-bay another release of ASV album devoted to this fim score composer - "Warsaw Concerto / Film Music " (CD WHL 2108) of 1997 with the same performers:

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/fe/14/124f619009a0a31b91b65110.L.jpg

The music is simply fantastic - what a colourfull and vibrant composing, real pleasure for orchestral music lovers! These two albums easily demonstrate how great composer was Addinsell - for me on par with the greatest Hollywood movie score composers of that era. He wrote the music to the movies with the greatest actors casting in His times - listing the scores would occupy at least one side - look there - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005941/ .

Buy CDs with his music if you find anywhere, you'll be amazed!


P.S.
The Warsaw Concerto, composed for "Dangerous Moonlight" famous war movie with Sally Gray and Anton Walbrook in 1941 reminds me forever not of the fictional romantic pair of this movie but the real one I met in my life.
She - descendant of families living on Border Marches (or Scottish Marches) for ages, a bit older than ER II, she joined ATS after graduating high school in the beginning of II WW and was promoted to the rank of sargeant during her war service, once seriously wounded after one of Luftwaffe airstrikes. He was young engineer from southern Poland who had just graduated polytechnic in electromechanics before the outburst of WWII and was lucky as a sublieutenant to break through to France and then to England to serve in PAF as an airfield pilot oficer (mechanical staff and radio communication) , finally promoted to the rank of captain. They found themselves in 1941 somewhere in Northern England to be in constant touch for the next four years despite of all wartime odds, serving the in army and being separated at close and big distances to marry just after the peace was announced. They had come to his country to present newly wed beauty to his miraculously survived parents and after two months of stay he ... dissapeared suddenly. She did not return to her country but went through the hell not to loose the contact with her almost one year imprisoned husband. When he, also suddenly, was released, they were adviced to move to western part of the country where the communist terror was not established so strongly yet. For the safety of her husband and their kin she could not contact her immediate family in GB up to mid 50s. Can you imagine better story for a romance? She was my English teacher, professor in the secondary (high) school I attended. Once I told her 'Madame, my parents said you were heroes', she replied thoughtfully with gentle smile 'maybe a bit, my dear, but mainly crazy, not less crazy than you are today ....'
The real life sometimes makes the most fabulous fiction super, super-artificial and bland.

The Concerto itself is so popular and was recorded so frequently I could not tell even one tenth of the recordings worth listening to. You can enjoy the latest performance of it by old Kievan piano school ("Goravetz go and show them how it should be played!"*) pupil Valentina Lisitsa and BBC Concert Orchestra under baton of Keith Lockhart at BBC Proms here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi9CeABMP1g or here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/showcase/clips/p01g4jjz

* the loud words of maximally hairless Sergyey Rachmaninoff to Vladimir Horovitz (Kiev Conservatory graduate) at the concert of someone pretending to be "virtuoso" in Carnegie Hall ....

pkwba
24-09-2013, 08:38 PM
Polish Radio 2 invites you to listen to broadcast of the final concert of Warsaw Autumn, straight from the Warsaw Philharmonic on September 28th (19.30 EUR time 18.30 UK time). Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano) and William Dazeley (baritone), accompanied by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Raphael Janiak will perform this evening Concerto for Orchestra of Thomas Simaku (Albanian contemporary composer, now UK resident), Pawel Szymanski's Sostenuto and Thomas Ades' Totentanz. All these three works were composed in memoriam of Witold Lutoslawski.

Link to the PRII stream : http://www.polskieradio.pl/Player/-2

Enjoy!


Warsaw Autumn, since its beginning in 1956, is one of the most important world festivals of contemporary music (classical, electronic, experimental and of any kind modern composers invent), that played a special role from late 50s to 70s as a kind of a bridge between modern music composers and lovers from all the nations in stiltedly politically divided Europe.

More about genesis of Warsaw Autumn you can find in the beginning of fantastic film with Steven Stucky and Esa-Pekka Salonen, which is a great contribution of Philharmonia Orchestra to 100 year birth anniversary of Lutoslawski - http://www.philharmonia.co.uk/explore/films/65/witold_lutoslawski_biography_maturity_part_4

One of the most prominent examples of international significance of the festival can be watched here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czUDDNjwo_Q (Warsaw Autumn 1965 or 1966).
The exceptionally beautiful performance of the same "Paroles Tissées" ("Woven Words") to poem of Jean-François Chabrun can be found on legendary Decca recording from 1965 with Peter Pears and London Sinfonietta conducted by Composer - Mr. Pears at his top form!

pkwba
27-10-2013, 12:40 PM
The early weekend breakfast with few cups of breakfast tea from the blend of the most precious harvests from India, Sri Lanka, China and Kenya, prepared in traditional way instead of everyday morning coffee makes one more optimistic and ready for a new day.

First I’d like to express my greatest thanks to all visitors to this thread. Over 7000 views testify the British (and not only) classical music, even that contemporary one, is not of marginal interest for any music lover.

Now I’d like to attain your attention to the works of one of the most prominent and recognizable modern British composers – Scottish James Macmillan.

As I can recall James Macmillan’s music worldwide popularity had grown enormously since the premiere of his “Veni Veni Emanuel” concerto for percussion instruments and orchestra recording for Catalyst (RCA, BMG), performed so bravely and convincingly by his countrywoman, now famous Dame Evelyn Glennie with Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Jukka-Pekka Saraste in 1993. Later, this concerto was also popularized in many countries by another talented percussionist Colin Currie, who performed it frequently throughout Great Britain, Europe and United States, his recording for Naxos with Ulster Orchestra under Takuo Yuasa was also critically acclaimed very well by critics and music lovers.

The successful première of "Tryst" at the 1990 St Magnus Festival led to his appointment as Affiliate Composer of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and cooperation with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra then (1983 - 1993) led by maestro Jerzy Maksymiuk, the co-founder and conductor of world famous Polish Chamber Orchestra later reorganized into Sinfonia Varsovia SO. Maestro Maksymiuk's cooperation and counselling to then thirtysomething freshly doctorated in music Composer fruited in very succesful launching his next orchestral work - “The Confession of Isobel Gowdie", very well received by the audience of then somehow repertoire conservative BBC Proms in 1990. The recording of "Tryst" and "The Confession..." for Koch-Schwann Records made by Maksymiuk / BBC SSO brought them Grammophone Award in 1993.

The Composer had a lot of luck that his music gained attention of London Symphony Orchestra but also of another then young Finnish conductor Osmo Vanska, who stepped as the next principal conductor of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in the second decade of 90s what resulted in series of recordings for Swedish label BIS led by uncompromised and always opened for new trends in classical music - label’s owner, Robert von Bahr . For Londoners He wrote "Britannia" overture premiered by LSO conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas at the Barbican in 1994 and in years 1995-1997 his famous triple-pack of works so called “Triduum” based on tradition of celebrating Eastern in catholic churches (Paschal Triduum) – “The World's Ransoming”, “Concerto for Cello & Orchestra” dedicated to and first performed by Mstislav Rostropovich and “Vigil” Symphony, whole the set later recorded for BIS Records by BBC SSO.

The growing popularity of the Composer abroad, also his works included by many orchestras and famous choirs to their repertoire who recognized his unusual talent resulted in increased interest in his compositions by the British record companies that begun to record and attach it to their music catalogues.

The great promoter of Composer’s music was (and is) maestro Donald Runnicles – He and the Composer were the apprentices of the same professor - Reid Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh, Kenneth Leighton.
Substantial support in popularizing his music was given to Macmillan also by the late Sir Colin Davis, to whom composer dedicated his “St. John Passion” (recorded by Maestro and LSO in 2008) as a “token of his admiration and appreciation for one of this country’s greatest musicians and the wonderful music-making he has given us throughout his life”. Mine too, period, amen.

Recently this year, we had occasion to listen his “Violin Concerto” performed by a dedicatee violinist Vadim Repin and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under baton of Donald Runnicles at BBC Proms 2013, very well received by the audience gathered in Royal Albert Hall.

I would not like this short notice about Macmillan’s music to be a list of his compositions; it is simply impossible - Composer’s output of works is so prolific and multifarious it would take good several pages to include the most important ones only.

He has also become well known, if not famous for his choral composing, his choir works being performed so frequently now by amateur, academic and professional groups with the most world renowned choirs included.
Who of those interested in choral tradition and performing cannot recall immediately his “A Child’s Prayer”, “Westminster Mass”, "Christus Vincit" or recently “Tu es Petrus” and “Gloria”? Although composed not long ago, they have already become a part of British history and culture.

The closer insight in Composers choral work can be read in the link beneath:
http://www.boosey.com/downloads/MacMillanChoralPDF09finalWEB.pdf

The British critics underline a great inspiration for his both secular and sacred works springing from his deep faith (in this case catholic, He leads also a choir in his local St. Columba's parish in Glasgow ), thus Composer could be counted as a representative of the modern spiritual movement in British music (e.g. Edward Elgar – “The Dream of Gerontius” Neo-Catholic tradition, John Rutter – from Anglican roots, John Tavener – from Eastern Orthodox one) , but also to great tradition of modern European composers – late Igor Stravinsky and Joaquin Rodrigo, Francis Poulenc, Benjamin Britten, Olivier Messiaen, Aarvo Part, Sophia Gubaidulina or Henryk Mikolaj Górecki to name very few only. And indeed, James Macmillan himself often recalls Britten’s great impact on his music in many reviews. I won’t mention the impact of monastery plainchant, renaissance and baroque sacred music on his compositions – it’s obvious, as in case of any modern composer who cultivates this great musical tradition.

What the Composer does say himself about his music lately? – here are the links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=169vLkK6VII
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPOaOpXI-Bs

For me, the today position of James Macmillan in the post - modern music does somehow resemble that of Anton Bruckner in the second part of 19th century as a composer who wanted and was capable of merging the great repository of folk music, old classical and romantic line (Beethoven – Schubert – Mendelssohn - Schumann – Brahms) with novelties of Wagner.
Nihil novi sub sole, but a bit of more than one century later.

And don’t believe to those musical critics who find the key to the popularity of his music in “trendy” description – “accessible music” (what a slatternly word!) – those for sure have not listened to the whole scope of his work (just as it happens in the case of many modern composers); it is simply untrue. And those critics, I think, simply don’t bother to understand modern composers.

A silver thaler** for thy art of musicke Mr. MacMillan!

Some of James Macmillan’s discography:

0. Koch-Schwann Records:
- "The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, Tryst” - BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Jerzy Maksymiuk, CD 310502, 1992

1. RCA – Catalyst:
- “Veni, Veni, Emanuel , After the Tryst, '...As Other See Us...', Three Dawn Rituals, Untold” - Evelyn Glennie, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, 1993

2. Naxos Records:
- “Veni, Veni Emmanuel / Tryst” – Colin Currie, Ulster Orchestra / Takuo Yuasa, 8.554167, 08/1998
- “Seven Last Words from the Cross, Christus Vincit, Nemo te condemnavit, …here in hiding…” - The Dmitri Ensemble / Graham Ross, 8.570719, 2009

3. BIS Records (1997 - 2010):
- “Triduum, Part I: The World's Ransoming / Triduum, Part II: Cello Concerto” - Christine Pendrill; Raphael Wallfisch; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Osmo Vanska, BIS-CD-989
- “Triduum, Part III: Symphony Vigil” - BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Osmo Vanska, BIS-CD-990
- “Tryst / I (A Meditation on Iona) / Adam’s Rib) - Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Swensen, BIS-CD-1019
- „Trumpet Concerto, ‘Epiclesis’, Clarinet Concerto, ‘Ninian’ ” - John Cushing, John Wallace, Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Alexander Lazarev, BIS-CD-1069
- “Sinfonietta / Cumnock Fair / Symphony No. 2” - Graeme McNaught, Scottish Chamber Orchestra / James Macmillan, BIS-CD-1119
- “The Confession of Isobel Gowdie / Tuireadh / The Exorcism of Rio Sumpul” – Martin Frost, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Osmo Vanska, BIS-CD-1169
- “Why is this night different? / Tuireadh / Visions of a November Spring” - Emperor Quartet / Robert Plane, BIS-CD-1269
- “Visitatio Sepulchri / Sun-Dogs” - Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic / Netherlands Radio Choir / Celso Autunes, James Macmillan, BIS-SACD-1719, 2010

4. Chandos Records:
- “Britannia (1994), The Berserking (1989) - A Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Into the Ferment (1988, revised 2002)” - Martin Roscoe piano, BBC Philharmonic / James Macmillan, CHAN 10092, 2003
- “ The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, Symphony No. 3” - BBC Philharmonic / James Macmillan, CHAN 10275, 2003
- “The Birds of Rhiannon and other choral works” - BBC Singers, Jonathan Scott organ, BBC Philharmonic / James Macmillan, CHAN 9997, 2002
- “A Scotch Bestiary (2003-04), Piano Concerto No. 2 (1999; 2003) - Wayne Marshall organ and piano, BBC Philharmonic / James Macmillan, CHAN 10377, 2006
- “Three Interludes from 'The Sacrifice' (2007) for orchestra”, Quickening (1998)” - Hilliard Ensemble, Robin Blaze counter-tenor, Steven Harrold tenor, Gordon Jones baritone, City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, BBC Philharmonic / James Macmillan, SACD CHSA 5072, 2009

5. LSO Live:
-“The World’s Ransoming, The Confession of Isobel Gowdie” - London Symphony Orchestra Christine Pendrill cor anglais, Sir Colin Davis conductor, LSO0124, 2007
-“ St. John Passion” - London Symphony Orchestra and LSO Chorus, Christopher Maltman baritone, Sir Colin Davis conductor, LSO0671, 2SACD, 2007

6. EMI:
-“Trumpet Concertos – ‘Seraph for Alison Balsom’ ” - Alison Balsom trumpet, Scottish Ensemble / Bernd Alois Zimmerman , 859023, 2012

7. Hyperion Records:
- “Seven Last Words from the Cross” - Polyphony, Stephen Layton , CDA67460, also SACD - SACDA67460 , 2005
- “Mass & other sacred music” - Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor), CDA67219, 2001
- “Choral Music” - Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens (conductor), CDA67867, 2011
- “Tenebrae Responsories & other choral works” - Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor), CDA67970, 2013

8. Linn Records:
-“Tenebrae” - Cappella Nova, CKD 301, 2007
-“Who are these Angels?” - Cappella Nova, CKD 383, 2012

9. Coro Records:
- „James MacMillan - Miserere” - Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, COR16096, 2011

10. Challenge Classics:
- “Veni, Veni, Emanuel - MacMillan series vol. 1”, - Colin Currie, Gordan Nikolic, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic / James MacMillan conductor, CC 72554, 04-2013
- “Magnificat - MacMillan series vol. 2” - Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic / Netherlands Radio Choir / James MacMillan conductor, CC 72554, 04-2013

Enjoy!


*- the title of “The Police” rock band’s song
** - there’s an anecdote that on listening his 4th Symphony led by famous Austro-Hungarian conductor Hans Richter, Anton Bruckner, in high spirits, came up to the conductor and handed him Maria Theresa silver thaler saying “ Thank you, drink some beer for my health, Mr. Richter”. Mr. Richter did not spend that coin but wore it on his watch-chain ever after as an amulet.

pkwba
24-11-2013, 02:05 AM
Some new releases of British classical music I encoutered recently:

1. John Taverner - Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas and Magnificats - The Tallis Scholars, Gimell Records, CDGIM 045 - legendary ensemble sings one of the greatest composers England (UK) have. No further words necessary.....

2. ELGAR, E.: The Dream of Gerontius / Symphony No. 1 (Peter Auty (t), Michelle Breedt (mz), John Hancock, Collegium Vocale Gent, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Edo de Waart), Pentatone Records, PTC5186472, SACD/CD Hybrid - prominent Dutch conductor with aspiring Flemish deFilharmonie and one of the best choirs in the world Collegium Vocale Ghent (yes, the same famous known for their achievements in early music with Philippe Herreweghe) - highly spirited reading of Sir Edward's great choral work to the poem of Blessed John Cardinal Newman. The sound .... terrific.

3. English Clarinet Sonatas (Ireland, Bax, Horovitz, Howells, Arnold) - Anna Czaicka - piano, Dawid Jarzyński - clarinet, Dux Records, DUX 0798 - over 70 minutes of delightful music from British classics, recording very well received by critics in home country and abroad.

4. Benjamin Britten: Les Illuminations, Op. 18 - Serenade, Op. 31 - Conductor Herbert Kegel, Tenor Peter Schreier, Horn Gunter Opitz, Orchestra Rundfunk-Sinfonie Orchester Leipzig - Brilliant Classics 94728, recording of 1967 from the Berlin Classical (former Eterna)catalogue, reissue.
"These German performances by the superb and familiar to all Bach's music lovers Peter Schreier and 20th century music champion Herbert Kegel prove that the understanding of Britten does not stop at the English border, but, as with all great music, the music's universal message will find a ready ear and a susceptive heart all over the world"

5. Benjamin Britten: String Quartets Nos 1, 2 & 3 - TAKÁCS QUARTET, Hyperion Records, CDA68004 - the pride of Hungary "offers the best possible guide to the music's beauty and complexity, giving listeners all they need to come to their own conclusions" (Guardian) , freshly released in November, the recording gathered a bunch of splendid reviews in musical press throughout the world.

6. James MacMillan: Alpha & Omega (new sacred works) - Cappella Nova, Linn Records CKD 439, SACD/CD hybrid, premiere recordings - new compositions from James MacMillan. This recording is made particularly special because Missa Dunelmi is conducted here by the composer; founding director Alan Tavener lends his enthusiasm and expertise for the remaining works.

7. The Hilliard Ensemble: "Il Cor Tristo", ECM New Series 2346 - the heavenly consonance of four men in new three part choral set of York based contemporary composer Roger Marsh interleaved with works of old masters Pisano and Arcadelt. Outstanding recording from St Gerold monastery in Austria.


Enjoy!

A.S.
25-11-2013, 01:55 PM
Britten's Noah's Flood here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03j9ff2/Britten_100_Noyes_Fludde/).

I attended a performance of this recently in Lewes: photo's to follow. Very difficult to outperform to the original 1961 (?) performance and recording.

pkwba
25-11-2013, 08:24 PM
Britten's Noah's Flood here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03j9ff2/Britten_100_Noyes_Fludde/).

I attended a performance of this recently in Lewes: photo's to follow. Very difficult to outperform to the original 1961 (?) performance and recording.

1. Thank you for the fresh link to yesterday's mystery play. I have just listened to all the broadcast. Fantastic professsional and local performers, I think the most precious was the atmosphere of great feast for local community caught in this radio cast from St Margaret's. Great kudos to all who took part in this exceptional event in the most to east located (Britten's) English town.

None super-dooper 3D screen with 25 earthquake to bat frequency channels can give anybody even mean 1% of the feelings the participant is absorbing while being at such a gathering. How to transmit the shine, glory, the good and joy then pride which exist in everyone inside and in every particle of the air?

If I read the text (I got it now before my eyes "The Thirde Pageante of Noyes Fludd ...."), i would have probably more problems with initial understanding it (because of Midddle English spelling) than I had when listening to outstanding diction of Zeb Soanes :).

2. This broadcast was something different to the original recording, which should be recommended to everyone who is interested in Britten's works.

Below complete data of this Decca recording:

Pr: Harley Usill & Andrew Raeburn Eng: Alan Reeve & Kenneth Wilkinson
3-4 Jly 1961 Orford Church, Suffolk chorus, East Suffolk Children’s Orchestra,
English Chamber Orchestra, Norman Del Mar

BRITTEN Noye’s Fludde Op.59
Trevor Anthony (bass) Voice of God
Owen Brannigan (bass-baritone) Noye
Sheila Rex (contralto) Mrs.Noye
David Pinto (treble) Sem
Darien Angadi (treble) Ham
Stephen Alexander (treble) Jaffett
Caroline Clack (girl soprano) Mrs.Sem
Marie-Thérèse Pinto (girl soprano) Mrs.Ham
Eileen O’Donovan (girl soprano) Mrs.Jaffett
[ARGO] (Dec61) NF1 = ZNF1; (Jly62) 5697 = OS25331,
(Aug89) 425 161.2LM.
reissued few times after 1993 year

Clever and puckish Mr Britten, wasn't He?

Thanks once more, all the best.

A.S.
25-11-2013, 10:10 PM
Here are a couple of pictures from Southover church, Lewes, last month when they performed Britten's Noah's Flood, twice, to two packed congregations.

Did I mention the conversation as we queued to leave?

You can see God, in the pulpit (fabulously strong voice from a rather slight frame), Noah's children on stage, an the orchestra and conductor by the organ. Also, the hand bells, over on the right, which considering the very considerable limitations of 1950s recording technology, reproduce beautifully on the original Argo stereo LP. Fabulous sound; a must have for any serious collector.

pkwba
22-12-2013, 03:09 PM
Choir of King's College Cambridge and its long time musical director and conductor Stephen Cleobury do not need any futher recommendations among the lovers of choral art throughout the world.

The choir from King's Chapel is a kind of cultural institution and real Meacenas, which supported modern choral music by commisioning new carols from the most prominent English culture zone (and not only) composers -

Lennox Berkeley, Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Weir, Richard Rodney Bennett, John Rutter, Peter Sculthorpe, Alexander Goehr, Arvo Pärt, John Casken, Diana Burrell, Jonathan Harvey, James MacMillan, Stephen Paulus, Thomas Adès, Jonathan Dove, John Woolrich, Harrison Birtwistle, John Tavener, Brett Dean, Dominic Muldowney, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Tansy Davies, Carl Vine, Thea Musgrave - these are the names of persons who wrote between 1983 and 2013 at least one carol for famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which holds place in candlelit chapel of King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve each year since 1918.

This year service combined with choral and organ concert will be broadcast live by BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 24th Dec 3:00 PM exactly, and will be repeated the next day on BBC Radio Channel 3 at 2:00 PM.

The whole programme can be read and downloaded at link: http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/files/services/festival-nine-lessons-2013.pdf

I also truly recommend their two disc album from 2012 available in musical shops and at e.g. Presto Classical (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Kings%2BCollege/KGS0001) - "Nine Lessons & Carols: King's College Cambridge, conductor Stephen Cleobury", Kings College: KGS0001.

Enjoy!

pkwba
24-12-2013, 04:31 AM
In this particular time let me focus your attention to something unique I found one day during my literary peregrinations through the rich fields of poetry. Since that day this verse somehow follows me around - discover yourselves why:

ODE 25. LIB. 2
"Out of Solomons ſacred Marriage Song, Cant. 2."

Stay mee with saffron, underneath me set
Full banks of Roses, beds of violet;
Refresh mee with the choicest fruit, and spread
The whitest Lillies round about my head:
For the delay of the seene-pow're divine
In sacred flames, consumes this breast of mine.

Yee Daughters of that holy Citie, yee!
Yee Sisters! I, 'tis I, that humbly pray!
O, I, intreat you, by each Hind, and Roe,
That straying o're the tops of Hills doe goe,
Yee stock of ancient _Isaac_, yee that move
With nimble foot through _Lebanus_ sweet grove,
O're _Carmels_ fragrant top! yee Nymphs so faire
The glory of the noble Hills that are,

Molest not my beloved with your cryes,
Amongst the twining Violets that lyes:
Doe not with claps of hands, or noise of feet,
Awake her, from her carefull slumbers yet:
Untill my Spouse, of her owne selfe, shall rise
And wipe away the soft sleep, from her eyes;
Untill the golden day-starre shall release
All things from silent rest, and gentle peace.


Behold from tops of yonder hills doth come
The blessed off-spring of's faire mothers womb,
The only issue of's bright father too,
On the thick tops o'th' groves doth leaping goe,
The unshorne head of _Lebanus_ so hye
Hee leaps, and the great backs of Mountaines by,
The stately dwellings of the woods hee skips,
And down again with nimble foot hee trips:

Like to a frighted, and swift running Roe.
Beholding Lions in a vale below,
With an amazed haste, and deep fetch'd breath
Through uncouth places runs t'escape his death.

Behold from tops of yonder hills does come
The blessed off-spring of fair mothers womb,
The only issue of bright father's too,
On the thick tops of the groves does leaping go
The unshorn head of Lebanon so high
He leaps, and the great backs of Mountains by,
The stately dwellings of the woods he skips,
And down again with nimble foot he trips:

Like to a frightened, and swift running roe.
Beholding lions in a vale below,
With an amazed haste, and deep fetched breath
Through uncouth places runs to escape his death.

Matthias Casimire Sarbievius* from "Lyricorum libri" 1623 to 1625
translated from Latin origin by George Hils** in 1646

Try to read this Ode yourself out loud and you immediately will catch on the brilliance and the great talent of the Translator - this verse while read flows constantly like mountain brook, sparkling with imagination, lightness and wisdom!.
A true masterpiece of an early English baroque poetry also great studium of divinity (awaiting God) and human psychology (mother being expecting a child). How was it possible that in those very miserable times in terms of tolerance, people of so different confessions from so many countries did understand so well each other at the level of arts and immediately supported the most precious values, nevertheless who raised them?

This translation made by Mr. Hils has also another, historical and attitudinal context of the epoque in which it emerged- thanks to the fact it was done only 20 years after the original Latin odes were written, we can understand the most accurately the purport of the originals and the mentality of those times. All the Latin poetry of Sarbievius, then one of the most honourable, prominent and popular European poets, is now a lost land of 17th century European culture. In His homeland (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) first translations of His latin poetry were approached not before the beginning of 19th century thus around 200 hundred years after it was printed first time. The reason ? - common knowledge of Latin and Greek in educated higher classes (up to the half of XXth century) and true admiration for the art of the original latin text.

The preface of Mr. Hils himself to His translational work ("Odes of Casimire", 1646, London) is also a unique one:

"A Word or two to thee, and I have done; and in English, for it maybe, ‘tis that which makes thee a reader. I know thou wilt start up Critick, if not Cynick; and therefore to prevent thee, I thus Apologize for myself to those of better judgement and affection. I confess I have not been so precisely careful in every Ode, as to render line for line (a thing so strictly stood upon by some late translators) for indeed the exuberant torrent of Elegance, came so fast upon me, that I forced to make my banks larger; choosing rather to make my fault in excess, then defect.
I ingenuously acknowledge that I am not worthy to blow a coal of that divine fire, which spreads such glorious flames through every Ode; and indeed (if it were possible to expect any mercy from thee) thou mightest excuse me in this bold attempt; for I want those true Promethean helps, that heretofore fetch’d down this fire, and dealt it freely amongst us; Those courteous sons of Maia, that with their powerful rods could break the bars, and easily uncharm the knottiest Authors. Well, if thou takest no pleasure in reading, I did profit in writing, and I had rather, of the two, that thou shouldst be idle. The young Thing was never intended for the Press, but the violence of some friends ravish’d her from me as courteously as thou canst, however I bid thee farewell".

I wish you all, Ladies and Gentlemen, only such violent friends Mr. Hils had found on His terrestrial way, no others ..... :).

At the photocopy of the academic book with modern translations of Sarbievius's latin poetry I got scanned, some young student put down in the neighbourhood of the text of this Ode 25 the annotation : "If the Word could be touched ..."

May the upcoming time be for all of You, HUG members, so divine and so human as this poem,
Merry Christmas and Very Happy New Year!


* Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (Matthias Casimire Sarbievius) - Jesuit priest, doctor of theology and philosophy, professor at Vilnius (Wilno) University, poet, then the private chaplain and advisor of king Ladislaus IV Vasa, who wanted to have "the Man of so many Virtues" by his side, more can be found even at English Wikipedia, his older brother was the Voivod (Governor) of Masovia and the Marshal of the Sejm (House of Deputies) in Commonwealth's Parliament.

* Very little is known about George Hils (Hills, Hill) of Newark-upon-Trent. He was born approximately in 1606 and received his BA in Trinity College, Cambridge in 1626 / 1627. In the mid-1640s he lived in London, probably moving in literary circles of the city. After 1650 he became the headmaster of Magnus School in his native Newark, a post which he held until 1655. His literary output we know is extremely limited – three liminary verses included in editions of “Poems & ca.” by James Shirley (1646) and “Comedies and Tragedies” by Beaumont & Fletcher (1647), and a volume of translations from Sarbiewski entitled “The Odes of Casimire” (1646) printed for Humphrey Moseley at the Princes-Armes in Pauls Churchyard, London
The Magnus Church of England Secondary School in Newark-upon-Trent is still existing ....., they hope to improve their GCSE results ......

pkwba
06-04-2014, 01:13 PM
I truly recommend to purchase album "Harrison Birtwistle - Chamber Music", newly released by ECM label.

The music of one of the living giants of contemporary classical music does not need itself any further recommendation. A lot about Sir Harrison's input into modern music (Manchester School of Music) can be read on many websites, I would point at the reference one - http://www.boosey.com/composer/harrison+birtwistle.

This recording deserves very special attention not only because of its very talented and acclaimed by audiences performers (Lisa Batiashvili violin, Adrian Brendel (son of Alfred Brendel) cello, Till Fellner piano, Amy Freston soprano and Roderick Williams baritone), the art of music written to poetry of American objectivist Lorine Niedecker and Rainer Maria Rilke, but also because of the quality of the recording itself, masterfully made by ECM stuff in Herkulessaal in Munich, concert hall famous for its acoustics.

Link to the ECM site - http://ecmrecords.com/Catalogue/New_Series/2200/2253.php

Enjoy!

G Spiggott
08-04-2014, 11:20 PM
I truly recommend to purchase album "Harrison Birtwistle - Chamber Music", newly released by ECM label.


This music lies beyond my limited cultural horizons! I read your post and was reminded of my brief introduction to Birtwistle's music on BBC4's recent series The Sound and the Fury. Could it really be as inaccessible as I remember, I was thinking. So I started listening to the album Music for Wind and Percussion on Spotify and while browsing to the ECM page for the album you recommend. It was about a minute before I realised it had started auto-playing some clips from the album, mixed with the Spotify track...

This review of the aforementioned TV series sounds about right to me!:



But what I liked most about this new series was the permission it gave us to dislike Schoenberg. Here were some impressive conductors and composers saying that they found him impossibly hard work, too. The comments of the minimalist composer John Adams were especially liberating. “I find most of his music aurally ugly,” he said.

Admitting you find modern music, by which is meant most 20th-century orchestral music, unlistenably random and jarring is not easy, because it is tantamount to acknowledging that you are a thicko. It was only intended for culturally sophisticated people, you see, and if you weren’t educated enough to appreciate it, that was your problem.

As this documentary explained, it was meant to be unlistenably random and jarring. Julian Lloyd Webber put it best when he said that if the audience applauded or showed enjoyment, the composers felt they had failed.

Modern music, then, was anti-music, anti-recognisable tunes. This said, I’ve always quite liked the “idea” behind it, that with its screechy atonality, consonance and dissonance, it was deliberately subverting the pleasing melodies, harmonies and rhythms of the past.

In many way what it was doing was echoing the innovations in modern art, where the concept was often more important than the execution. But the difference was that modern art, even in its most abstract forms, could still be contemplated. It was accessible. It didn’t make your eyes bleed. Modern music, by contrast, had blood spurting from your ears.

Counter intuitively, this documentary worked better as television than it would have done as radio. Seeing modernist paintings and footage of 20th century wars helped me understand what the hell it was modernist composers were up to.

Something else I hadn’t appreciated was that when I listened to Debussy, who came just before Schoenberg, and Stravinsky, who came just after, I was listening to composers who were unequivocally modernist. Stravinsky was the equivalent of Picasso, doing to rhythm what Schoenberg did for harmony. I had always assumed that because you could enjoy their work they couldn’t be modern, not properly.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/tv-and-radio-reviews/9866855/The-Sound-and-the-Fury-A-Century-of-Modern-Music-BBC-Four-review.html

Could you educate me pkwba? Is there something I am missing that, if I listened for it, would help me to begin to appreciate Birtwistle's music?

pkwba
10-04-2014, 05:28 PM
1. “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

Thank you very much for citing this marvelous review written on BBC4 TV series by Nigel Farndale in The Telegraph. Unfortunately I cannot watch “The Sound and the Fury” series via BBC i-player (it is not currently available) so that to have my own view on it.

But I must say that short annotations on each of those three parts of series at BBC site make me a bit puzzled and much more amused:

Wrecking Ball
1/3 How the early 20th century saw a fragmented, abstract, discordant sound (mercy please!) come to the fore.

Free for All
2/3 How music came under state control in the 1930s (where? In UK?) and serialism took over (whom ???!) after the war.

Easy Listening?
3/3 How post-war composers began to bring back (where from ???!) elements of rhythm, metre and harmony.


I have found Mr. Farndale a man of a great wit, writing very ironic and polemic review on tv series he had watched, his final confession is marvelous:
“I would certainly like to hear more Anton Webern and Charles Ives after watching this series. And I now know that I need never try to listen to Schoenberg ever again. He wasn’t even a very nice person, apparently. Prickly.”

Also the comments beneath his article are very colourful, the writer achieved his goal – lively polemic.

When this prickly Austrian composer landed finally in States he befriended almost at once with another “prickly” musician … George Gershwin, they were both passionate tennis players. Not very poor Gershwin commissioned at prickly friend Fourth Quartet, and helped him to gain commission for Violin Concerto from Leopold Stokowski and Philadelphia Orchestra. Some UCLA asked this prickly man to accept the position of professor of music – and he had accepted it.

There is a famous anecdote about them when playing tennis in the beginning of their acquaintanceship – Gershwin asked Schoenberg if he could give him some lessons on composition, calling him “Master”, master asked then if he were not successful in his job, Gershwin contradicted so master asked him how much he did per year from composing, when Gershwin named the amount, Schonberg loudly protested “Since then, mein Freund, I call you Master!”. Tonality sells better, no doubt.

Also try to listen to a/m violin concerto performed by Hilary Hahn (DG) , I don’t know how she does it, but most of music lovers to whom I presented her reading, admitted this uneasy concerto as enjoyable. Sir Colin Davis was fascinated with her talent and musical personality, we are also.
Link to video with Hilary and some more prickly Schoenbergs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bqh072B8c8

Mr. Farndale is somehow different - Good for Him!


2. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

“Could you educate me pkwba? Is there something I am missing that, if I listened for it, would help me to begin to appreciate Birtwistle's music?”

“Art music is a journey.” – Sir Harrison Birtwistle used to say, and it is very difficult not to agree with him.
In the times of my childhood and youth almost in each European country (on both sides of iron curtain) also States and Canada there were great musical personalities – composers or conductors, who were deeply involved in musical education of young people via new media - radio and tv screen (e.g. Leonard Bernstein in USA; Benjamin Britten or Joseph Cooper in UK, Henryk Czyz (close friend to Penderecki) in Poland), thus many of us really benefited from properly invested state money. I don’t know how it is today, but most of contemporary music lovers have another powerful means to branch out their interests and hobbies - internet web.

Today, I think, it is much easier to broaden ones tastes and horizons in classical music – since late 70s much more has been done to explore our European musical heritage, lasting at least for 1000 years than in previous times. It is not easy to give one straight prescription for your question. Maybe try to make your own journey through the ages - start from great masters of medieval plain chant, reach for music of Renaissance, go through the superabundant art of early, mid and late Baroque, taste the music of pre- and classical period so that to dive into the ocean of Romanticism and then land on the ground of so rich and various music of the XXth century. You will discover that each times had their own ideas, different gradation of significances about man, life, world, universe, nature and spirituality thus reflecting in different musical idioms. Then you will find that not every "tonal" music was uncomplicated for contemporaries as well as for us today and was less complicated in musical structure and message than our "modern" one. Also in its inner wisdom and beauty.
In understanding of this latter the marvelous series of TV lectures from Sir Simon Rattle “Leaving Home” will be very helpful I think. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSkidzg6TUQ&list=PLn79SLiEM0lsbQpwVXNv519OZF4KYD12q).

Don’t have in disregard pure true folk music from all the continents, seriously taken blues, r and b, jazz, rock, electronic and experimental or urban music – they all can grant you also the fantastic journeys.

Listen to all tonal, less tonal, atonal, semi- and quarter tonal music people invented to express their views, feelings, emotions – it’s good to broaden one's view on the aural landscape of human perception and communication.

And for God's sake don’t buy anything what is described as “accessible art” – there are in fact no easy loves, lifes, friendships, emotions, passions, education; there are only herds of fiddlers who want to earn on you selling you the kitsch and substitution of real life. Your life.

P.S.
I've almost forgot – the quotes are of Madame Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel (thinker or fashion designer only?)
The title is the paraphrase of her the most famous statement about women, I think it works also to the music.

G Spiggott
11-04-2014, 12:02 AM
Thanks for that pkwba. I will struggle a little longer with Birtwistle, but he's hard work.

In the meantime, here is a suggestion for this thread: Arnold Bax, whose name didn't seem to come up in a search of this site. I like this music immensely - it's in the same vein as Vaughan Williams.
http://open.spotify.com/track/183DKw2aO5CDBTdV1mvfh7
http://open.spotify.com/track/2BYKevMuw0aTUcBZaLaTxD

pkwba
11-04-2014, 07:55 PM
Thanks for that pkwba. I will struggle a little longer with Birtwistle, but he's hard work.

In the meantime, here is a suggestion for this thread: Arnold Bax, whose name didn't seem to come up in a search of this site. I like this music immensely - it's in the same vein as Vaughan Williams.
http://open.spotify.com/track/183DKw2aO5CDBTdV1mvfh7
http://open.spotify.com/track/2BYKevMuw0aTUcBZaLaTxD

Oh, yes Arnold Bax - Composer of a great musical sensitivity and imagination, surely worth to be performed throughout the world. I love His 5th Symphony of 1932 dedicated to Sibelius or earlier "Tintagel" symphonic poem of 1919.
Thanks a lot for reminding us of Him.

pkwba
12-04-2014, 01:10 PM
"Music is a continuum, and the modern and avant-garde composers of today will be part of the standard repertoire 30 years from now."
Sir Neville Marriner

On 15th April we celebrate 90th birthday of one of the most recognisable and beloved musicians and conductors in last three decades of XXth and new century all over the world - Sir Neville Marriner.

For me Him, Colin Davis and Charles Mackerras form (although we know more amount of oustanding personalities) a kind of triumvirate as for British conductors born in 1920s .

More about the August Jubilarian can be read (e.g) at links:

http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm5-9/neville-en.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Marriner-Neville.htm

We have grown up in music with Sir Neville, both as outstanding leader of his beloved Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, but also as a fantastic (sometimes magical) conductor of LSO, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and SWR Orchestra via numerous and very popular releases from Argo, Philips, EMI or Hanssler labels.

Watch footage from the incredible concert celebrating Neville Marriner's 90th birthday, filmed live at London's Royal Festival Hall on 1st April, available at:
http://www.classicfm.com/artists/sir-neville-marriner/music/neville-marriner-90th-birthday-concert-video/

My impressions
- Saint Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso - Joshua Bell outstanding as always.

- Mozart's 20th Piano Concerto - I still have impression as if both masters (Marriner and Perahia) were given the fresh score from some young temporary Austrian composer Wolfgang Theophilus M. and perform it in a series of a premiere concerts. None, even smallest traces of routine or shallowness in their approach to young composer's masterpiece (although they both and Academy know it by heart!).

- Elgar's Enigma Variations - since late 70s (recordings for Philips) I have always advocated in my disputes with friends that Sir Neville is one of the very few keyholders to the music idiom of British composers from the turn of 19th and 20th century; watch and listen to one of the most revealing, colourful and rich readings of Enigma Variations ever performed. I have listened to this rendition like petrified. The chemistry between Conductor and Academy is ubelievable. I truly hope this recording will be available on DVD soon.

"Like Solti, I will probably go on until I'm stopped,"
Sir Neville Marriner

Happy Birthday Sir Neville! Good health! We are waiting for more .....

pkwba
04-08-2014, 02:10 AM
We haven’t yet mentioned in our recalling British composers one of the greatest - Henry Purcell.
Yesterday , on Saturday , August 2nd we had opportunity to hear His the most famous opera “Dido and Eneas” at local Bach Festival in Swidnica, Lower Silesia, Poland.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iIk7MZYxQ8k

I am personally a great admirer of His music and I think Purcell can easily be put in the rank of the most splendid European composers of his era – e.g. Lully, Charpentier, Corelli, Torelli, Allesandro Scarlatti, Buxtehude, Pachelbel or Biber. In my very personal opinion, in some cases he outrun the contemporaries with his original style of composing for good twenty – thirty years.

It is hard to believe that “Dido and Eneas” was originally intended to be performed by …a group of young musicians and dancers from Josias Priest's girls' onboard school for gentlewomen.

I must confess I was a bit afraid whether the singers and players could match my expectations as for Purcell, but all my doubts dissipated with first sounds of an orchestra and singers – there are so many very good and very talented young musicians in five continents, so thoroughly educated it is a real pleasure to hear at least some of them live. Outside all that pompous recording, gala and TV business there are so many interesting musical events at old and new continents it is a real sin not to participate in local cultural life. Today performing standards went so high one must be really deaf snob not to admire the music given at a reach of one’s hand. Just next to your door. Look around and discover how much interesting musical events take place every year right around you…

Link to our very local, and well overcrowded, also with youth, festival - http://www.bach.pl/

I won’t write about Henry Purcel and his famous opera at all. Everyone can easily find a massive information about them in www. Also its political context.

For those who would like to enrich the knowledge about Purcell, his contemporaries and music, I recommend to buy or to borrow at local library Peter Holman’s biography of Purcell, those more interested in “Dido and Eneas” itself should reach for Ellen T., Harris’ “Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas”, both from Oxford University Press.

The list of performers and recordings since the times of Adrian Boult, Benjamin Britten or Raymond Leppard up to last ones is so vast it would took me one or two days for typing them all only… That is the scale of Purcell’s popularity (and importance) in contemporary international musical life. The readings I have now on my shelves are of William Christie / Les Arts Florissant, Andrew Parrot / Taverner Choir and Players and Emmanuellle Haim / European Vioces/ Le Concert d’ Astree, but there are many many more worth listening to ….

The cast from yesterday’s concert:

Fabio Bonizzoni (Italy) - conductor and harpsichordist, Grammophone Award for him and his own La Risonanza ensemble and Roberta Invernizzi’s “Vivaldi Opera Arias” in 2012.
http://www.larisonanza.it/about/fabio-bonizzoni/

Festival Orchestra – members of Capella Cracoviensis (http://capellacracoviensis.pl/about) and Arte dei Suonatori (http://www.artedeisuonatori.pl/), authentic instruments orchestras who play with the greatest performers of early and contemporary (modern) music.

The Choir of Capella Cracoviensis – they showed their class few days earlier in Bach cantatas under guest conducting by Andrew Parrot. Each of members perform also as soloist. Extremely interesting approach of female singers to the roles of witches – how to sing to be both theatrical and not exaggerated? I think they resolved this issue masterfully (maybe with some advice from maestro Parrot? … ), their evil giggle together with Sorceress was really thrilling.

DIDO - Maria Hinojosa Montenegro (soprano) – the voice of this Catalan singer with truly royal appearance was authoritative, well articulated and well matching to her noble scenic part. http://www.mariahinojosamontenegro.com/bio

BELINDA - Canadian Stephanie True (soprano) proved to be very capable of singing this probably the most extensive role. Sweet, charming and clear voice, very convincing as the nearest person and confidant of queen’s torments and troubles, very convincing theatrically (although it wasn’t scenic performance).
http://stefanietrue.weebly.com/cv-english.html

ENEAS - Swiss Richard Helm (baritone) – another new talented voice, less known but on par with the rest of performers,

SORCERESS - Dutch Iason Marmaras – very theatrical singing with high voice , just for this specific purpose, although Iason normally sings with …bass.

It is needless to mention the performance was acclaimed by the audience with standing ovation….

Below the sample of the Choir and Capella’s potential – John Rutter’s “Et misericordia” from Magnificat, live recording from Royal Chapel at Wawel Castle, Cracow. The soloist soprano sang the part of Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the festival the day before (Zerlina and Masetto) :

http://swidnica24.pl/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Don-Giovanni-1.jpg


one and half hour after Purcell she sang Die Forelle in the next Schubertiade concert together with her capella's fellows …

I think the way of natural singing, used in authentic performances, also subserves modern choral pieces pretty well, asses yourselves ….

http://www.jolantakowalska.com/nagraniarecordings/

Maestro Rutter’s own explanation about “Et Misericordia” can be found here -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypTNQjeJaLo

Rejoice the musicke of Mr. Purcell and try to be frequent visitors to musical events just in your neighbourhood, it is worthy for sure …..

Sincerely yours,

pkwba

Batears
04-08-2014, 02:24 PM
This being the centennial of WW1 I would like to include George Butterworth, killed by a snipers bullet on the Somme 5 Aug 1916.

Butterworth's, The Banks of Green Willow, is hauntingly beautiful.

Batears
04-08-2014, 02:36 PM
Not forgetting Walter Leigh, Concertino for Harpsichord and String Orchestra, killed at Tobruk 1942

pkwba
05-08-2014, 08:36 AM
"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven".

Rupert Brooke (1887 – 23 April 1915)

Great sonnet of very universal contents. Once one of our poets wrote that patriotism is the toughest exam a man must pass through .....

There will be commemorative concert on 17th August in RAH broadcast by BBC radio and TV - Butterworth, Rudi Stephan and Frederick Kelly's music performed by Scottish SO / Andrew Manze with two splendid singers Allan Clayton and Roderick Williams. Additionally RVV's Pastoral Symphony.

Don't miss it.

pkwba
12-08-2014, 10:06 PM
Reading today's evening Proms programme (Caroline Mathilde by Maxwell Davies - suite from Act 2) I noticed the name of young soprano Mary Bevan. Her family name seemed somehow familiar to me and I was not wrong. She and her sister Sophie are now rising British stars of the opera and oratorio music.
No surprise, with such a background!

Interview with Sophie - http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/features/sophie-bevan-born-to-sing-2177870.html

More about sisters' famous family of Croscombe, Sommerset (also The Bevan Family Choir) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2sxzI1EAH4

I still remember the same 70s when we all family used to come from different parts of the country to grandparents' farm to help in harvesting and threshing. And that long, long table in the open air where we all and their neighbours used to gather to celebrate the harvest's completion together ... Those times will not go back, for sure ....

Enjoy!

G Spiggott
14-10-2014, 08:13 PM
One for you pkwba...

Just stumbled across a new composer (to me, anyway): Ernest John Moeran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_John_Moeran)

Listening to his Symphony in G Minor (on Spotify) and liking it very much. Very Vaughan Williams-esque.

pkwba
15-10-2014, 02:19 PM
One for you pkwba...

Just stumbled across a new composer (to me, anyway): Ernest John Moeran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_John_Moeran)

Listening to his Symphony in G Minor (on Spotify) and liking it very much. Very Vaughan Williams-esque.

Thank you for remembering Moeran's music.
Historic recording of His Symphony in G and Sinfonietta with readings of Sir Adrian Boult can be found at Lyrita label.
More modern recording comes from Naxos (Bournemouth Symphony under baton of David Lloyd-Jones) - I have got this one.

Also it is worth to enrich one's collection with further two albums from Naxos so well produced/recorded by Tim Handley (Grammy Award for some of his productions and recordings) and so nicely performed by JoAnn Faletta and Ulster Orchestra (I keep my fingers crossed for them since their record with Macmillan's "Veni veni Emanuel" and Colin Currie at percussive instruments):

- Cello Concerto (written by Composer for his wife) / Serenade / Lonely Waters / Whythorne's Shadow - Guy Johnston/cello and Rebekah Coffey, Soprano
- In the Mountain Country / Rhapsodies / Overture for a Masque - with Benjamin Frith on piano in last f-sharp major rhapsody

For last few days I am totally immersed in readings of violin and cello concertos of Elgar from two extremely talented lasses - Hilary Hahn and Alysa Weilerstein. More about them and their recordings a bit later .....

ATB

pkwba
15-10-2014, 08:54 PM
Have I mentioned Colin Currie in the previous post?

Listen and watch by yourselves, please, what one of the most talented percussionists of our times can bring out of a street welded metal plate monument:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNbsNAnybuE

Link to whole almost 19 min long reportage from CTV Santa Cruz County - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVe5zPSEmh4

Those, who took a liking to the attached trailer I heartily recommend to visit the artist's site - www.colincurrie.com

Enjoy!