Author Topic: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)  (Read 10493 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« on: April 07, 2009, 05:50:52 AM »
Well, well, CPO have done it again :)

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/cpo/detail/-/art/Josef-Holbrooke-Symphonische-Werke/hnum/9595472

A cd scheduled for release in late April of four orchestral works by Joseph Holbrooke-the Tone Poems "Ulalume" and "The Viking" together with the Overture "Amontillado" and the Variations on 'Three Blind Mice'.

Holbrooke is the almost completely forgotten member of that group of British composers who came to prominence at the beginning of the 20th century and were part of the so-called British Musical Renaissance. His contemporaries were Vaughan Williams(b.1872), Holst(b.1874), Rootham(b.1875), Brian(b.1876), Dunhill(b.1877), Boughton(b.1878), Bridge(b.1879), Ireland(b.1879), Scott(b.1879), Bainton(b.1880), Foulds(b.1880), Bax(b.1883), Dyson(b.1883) and Bowen(b.1889). Each of these composers has-to a greater or lesser extent-has had a revival of interest in recent years while others have long been recognised as master composers.

For a brief period before the outbreak of the First World War Holbrooke was lauded as one of the most talented of the lot. Arthur Nikisch, the great conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, called Holbrooke a genius and the esteemed critic Ernest Newman rated him more highly than Richard Strauss. Holbrooke was nicknamed 'the English Wagner'. His Tone Poems-many inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe-were regularly featured in concert programmes conducted by people like Beecham, Nikisch and Hans Richter.

After 1918 his music faded from the concert hall although his operas were still performed for a short time. Holbrooke's working-class origins(a background he shared with Havergal Brian) and his aggressive, eccentric and intemperate nature made him, increasingly an outsider in British musical circles and by his death he was almost completely ignored or forgotten.

Marco Polo issued a couple(?) of Holbrooke discs almost twenty years ago now(I have the Leaper collection of tone poems which includes 'Ulalume' and 'The Raven'), Hyperion recorded the (frankly not very impressive) Piano Concerto No.1 and Cameo Classics are promising some sort of Holbrooke cycle but it is fascinating that CPO seems to have jumped in first :)

More on a potentially very interesting composer-

http://www.musicweb-international.com/holbrooke/index.htm

Could he just be a British Langgaard? ;D

Offline springrite

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2009, 05:56:13 AM »

Hyperion recorded the (frankly not very impressive) Piano Concerto No.1

Thank you for this comment. Since this is the only Holbrooke I have, and it is probably the weakest of the concerti in the series that I own, I was about to totally dismiss this composer. Maybe I will explore more now.
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Offline Dax

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2009, 10:13:30 AM »
I remember being impressed by the 4 Futurist Dances for piano on hearing them many years ago. I didn't find them at all "forgettable", although I'm surprised to read that Rob Barnett reckons they were "lampooning" composers such as Ornstein or Schenberg.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2009, 10:27:18 AM »
Hav just ordered this.  We shall see:

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Christo

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2009, 09:58:37 PM »
Hav just ordered this.  We shall see:

Why can't we just start with playing one of the Marco Polo releases - that's been lingering on our shelves for fifteen years at least? I only own one of the two and will give it a spin first, before ordering yet another cd.  :-[

I mean the one with Adrian Leaper conducting half of Bratislava's orchestral players (the Bratislava RSO, still "Czecho-Slovak" in 1992) and Slovak Philharmonic Choir in Ulalume as well, but coupled with the Bronwen Overture, The Bells Prelude, The Raven, Byron.

                                     
           
A `British Langgaard'?  :o I would be very interested to hear his eight symphonies (1907, 1907, 1925, 1928, 1928, 1929, 1930s) though.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2012, 08:20:53 AM »
Hav just ordered this.  We shall see:
One things for sure,even if you don't like the music,the Cpo cd has a great cover design. It has a mysterious,gothic look about it,which somehow fits in very well with Holbrooke's muse. Although,it makes me think more of Lovecraft than Poe.
 Actually,bringing up Lovecraft,makes me wish Holbrooke had been as inspired by HPL. Tone poems & Concert overtures with titles like Dagon, Cthulhu & The Dunwich Horror,could have been fun! Or at least the titles would! ;D In fact,it just crossed my mind. Has any composer ever been inspired by Lovecraft? Does anyone here know? I'm sure someone has!  I know John Ireland found inspiration in my fellow countryman,Arthur Machen,who was inspired by Poe;and come to think of it,Lovecraft was inspired by Machen,and to bring things more up to date,Stephen King was inspired by (or found inspiration in) Lovecraft!
 
 About a week,or two ago,I had some job to do & to help me to concentrate on my work ;D,I put on my nice Sennheiser cordless headphones! :) To cut a long story :o short :),I chose to put on the recent Holbrooke orchestral cds from Cpo & Dutton (The Pit & the Pendulum,etc). I quite enjoyed the content of the cds;I think Holbrooke had a flair for colourful orchestration & and an,at times,gothick-y atmosphere;but I have had reservations about whether his ideas really add up. To quote Calum MacDonald,in his,December 2010 IRR Review,of the Dutton cd:

  "It's not that his ideas lack character-he is no mere clone of late Romantic betters-but that their effect is somehow inconsequential. Theme follows theme,follows episode,follows gesture,and from moment to moment the music is often impressive,but I have no strong sense of where it is going,or whether any element is more important than any other."

Anyway,this time around,being busy,I put the Cpo cd on repeat. Interestingly,instead of driving me up the wall or boring me to tears,or,on a more positive level,leading me to the same conclusions as before; ie interesting,maybe quite good fun,but........where's that Stanley Bate?!!! Listening over and over again seemed to help. After a while the good bits,did seem to outweigh the not so good. To my suprise & relief (the off button was downstairs! :o) somewhere beneath all that splurge of,at times,melodramatically gothic diarrhoea,there did appear to be some kind of structure;albeit a tad ramshackle at times (the Variations),but there WAS something holding it all together,after all,and,my g*d;after hearing the cd about half a dozen times,in a row,I actually replaced it with the Dutton cd!
  This,subsequently,led to a week long 'Holbrooke-Fest!',which took in the Dutton Violin Sonata No 3,the 'Ballet cd' (also Dutton),the Marco Polo orchestral cds,the new Naxos instrumental cd & off air recordings of 'The Bells' & excerpts from his opera,Bronwen! The latter,particularly excited me. Moving,passionate,exiting & dramatic in turns;it was probably the pick of the entire bunch! In fact,the worst thing about it was that it was only excerpts,very well performed ones at that;but as soon as you were really getting into any of it,the music would fade & you found yourself thrust,unceremoniously,into the next scene!

BOOOOOH! :( :o :)

Worst thing about this post. Having to check the spelling of 'diarrhoea'! :( :o (No jokes,please!!!)Google brought up some pretty revolting results! :( :o
Hope I've got it right,now! :(

Springrite (& Dundonnell) mention the Piano Concerto No 1'The Song of Gwyn ap Nudd'. Despite it's evocative title,I must say,this is the worst Holbrooke I've ever heard. It just sounds like an overblown & meandering Tchaikovsky/Rachmaninoff rip off,and that's being polite!!!  Maybe,the Second Piano Concerto 'L'Orient' is better? (I b***** hope so!!!)
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 12:02:40 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline scarlattiglenross

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Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 10:27:22 AM »
His trio records on Tzadik and Incus are likely to provoke surprise and delight amongst you.
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Now available: Morton Feldman - Crippled Symmetry: at June in Buffalo, performed by The Feldman Soloists (Eberhard Blum, Nils Vigeland, Jan Williams)

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 10:31:23 AM »
They certainly do! :)

And come to think of it,if I include some posts about the Joseph Holbrooke (jazz) trio,I might even get some replies! ;D
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 11:43:45 AM by cilgwyn »

snyprrr

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 06:28:18 PM »
I think there was a clarinet and piano piece on a Chandos disc somewhere?

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2015, 06:27:42 AM »
A few months ago I bought the EM cd of Holbrooke's 'Violin Sonata No 2' "The Grasshopper" and Bantock's massive 1919 'Sonata for Viola and piano' "Colleen",performed on Gustav Holst's viola! Two lovely romantic works. Indeed,the Em recording of the Holbrooke is the first time I have really enjoyed this work in it's various forms. The one on the EM cd is of the 1917 version;and is apparently,the "Authorised Original Version".  I was not particularly impressed by the off-air recording of the orchestral version,which rumour has it;Cpo will actually release one day (next year?!). I actually switched it off part way,and I didn't go back! The Em performance is a different kettle of fish. Suddenly this previously,seemingly pleasant but ultimately somewhat banal work,has a romantic ardour and lyricism which is really quite appealing. The Bantock I might add,is even better. Indeed,I bought this cd after listening to another of their cd's. This one features their wonderful recording of Bantock's beautiful Sonata No 3 (1940),the underrated Cyril Scott 'Sonata for Viola and Piano' (1953) who was always at his best,really,in instrumental and chamber music. Also included on the cd is,in many ways,probably the best piece of music on the cd (if you want to make comparisons?) the 'Sonata No 1 in D minor for Violin and Piano',by the wonderful Roger Sacheverell Coke (1912-1972),whose life story would surely make splendid movie material! ! I was particularly impressed by the Sonata on the EM cd and the fantastic Somm recording of his ambitious and glorious,'24 Preludes' Op 33 (1938) 34 (1941) and 'Variations and Finale' (1939). More please,Somm!! Oh,and for anyone who is wondering;he doesn't sound a bit like,another supposed "English Rachmaninov",York Bowen!! Coke's music is,imho,made of sterner stuff!
The Booklets with these cds are all beautifully produced and,indeed,are a model of their kind. The cds featuring,and wholly devoted to the music of Sacheverell Coke,have some wonderful photographs. The ones of Sacheverell Coke are particularly poignant.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 06:33:11 AM by cilgwyn »

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2016, 04:25:32 AM »


A new Joseph Holbrooke cd,out now,in Germany! It won't be on sale in the UK yet;but it can be ordered from Jpc now (I'm going to wait!).

https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/cpo/detail/-/art/joseph-holbrooke-violinkonzert-op-59-the-grasshopper/hnum/4100515

Another cd of Holbrooke's orchestral music is to follow. This will include his third symphony "Ships",Orchestral Variations on "The Girl I left Behind Me" and the tone poem "The Birds of Rhiannon." This will be the third cd in Cpo's cycle.


Online vandermolen

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2016, 07:12:03 AM »
Why can't we just start with playing one of the Marco Polo releases - that's been lingering on our shelves for fifteen years at least? I only own one of the two and will give it a spin first, before ordering yet another cd.  :-[

I mean the one with Adrian Leaper conducting half of Bratislava's orchestral players (the Bratislava RSO, still "Czecho-Slovak" in 1992) and Slovak Philharmonic Choir in Ulalume as well, but coupled with the Bronwen Overture, The Bells Prelude, The Raven, Byron.

                                     
           
A `British Langgaard'?  :o I would be very interested to hear his eight symphonies (1907, 1907, 1925, 1928, 1928, 1929, 1930s) though.
Just read this. How true!   ::)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2016, 08:54:21 AM »
The trouble is I've got practically every single Holbrooke cd! ::) And they don't linger on the shelf for too long!!

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2016, 10:24:13 AM »
At least it's still there! Any cd here that doesn't get played much ends up in a charity shop. It's all a question of room. It's the cd's or me?!! :( I remember my late mother telling me."You can't wear cd's!"
Now that's an idea!! I'd be like a walking cd rack. I could just unhook the one I wanted. When I leave the house I could wear them under my coat!
Hey,maybe I could patent it?!! A wearable cd rack!! I could make lots of money and buy even more cds?!!

 :(


cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2016, 09:41:56 AM »


A new Joseph Holbrooke cd,out now,in Germany! It won't be on sale in the UK yet;but it can be ordered from Jpc now (I'm going to wait!).

https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/cpo/detail/-/art/joseph-holbrooke-violinkonzert-op-59-the-grasshopper/hnum/4100515

Another cd of Holbrooke's orchestral music is to follow. This will include his third symphony "Ships",Orchestral Variations on "The Girl I left Behind Me" and the tone poem "The Birds of Rhiannon." This will be the third cd in Cpo's cycle.
MY Holbrooke cd is in the post. Looking forward to my Holbrooke fix!

Online vandermolen

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2016, 12:09:06 PM »
Look forward to hearing your views. I have 'The Raven' on a Marco Polo CD I think. He is one of the only composers whose chamber music I prefer to the orchestral. I think that it was used as background music to a Naxos audio book and it impressed me.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2016, 01:04:56 PM »
Out of interest.vandermolen. What was the audio book you listened to? Was it Edgar Allan Poe!!! I find it quite amusing to see the heated debate going at the Art Music Forum in the thread " The Bells-Holbrooke vs Rachmaninov"! And in the red corner........!!! ;D (Of course,he left after the revolution,didn't he?!)  Music can add allot to a reading or play. I recall listening to a Radio 4 dramatisation some years ago and realising to my delight that it was from Bax's Fifth symphony. In that instance,I can't remember what the play was;but I remember thinking it was a great choice. I'm surprised Bax's symphonies aren't used more. They would be perfect for a romantic drama or landscape.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2016, 03:15:41 PM »
Out of interest.vandermolen. What was the audio book you listened to? Was it Edgar Allan Poe!!! I find it quite amusing to see the heated debate going at the Art Music Forum in the thread " The Bells-Holbrooke vs Rachmaninov"! And in the red corner........!!! ;D (Of course,he left after the revolution,didn't he?!)  Music can add allot to a reading or play. I recall listening to a Radio 4 dramatisation some years ago and realising to my delight that it was from Bax's Fifth symphony. In that instance,I can't remember what the play was;but I remember thinking it was a great choice. I'm surprised Bax's symphonies aren't used more. They would be perfect for a romantic drama or landscape.
Hello cilgwyn. I have a feeling that it might have been used in The Lady of the Camellias by Alexander Dumas (fils) but I may be wrong. In the old TV series 'The Great War' from the 1960s they certainly used 'Tintagel' by Bax as well as Sinfonia Antartica by Vaughan Williams. I recall a great TV series from my youth called 'Stalin, the Red Tsar' in which a lot of Miaskovsky (Symphony 17 for example) was used as background music. I was watching a YouTube video on the Apollo 8 moon mission a couple of days ago and noticing the moving accompanying music. I emailed my appreciation to the composer in the USA and she very kindly agreed to send me a CD of it!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2016, 07:07:34 AM »
MY Holbrooke cd is in the post. Looking forward to my Holbrooke fix!
It arrived today! I like the " Grasshopper" concerto in it's various guises;and I don't usually like Violin Concertos. The Korngold,Moeran,Khatchaturian are exceptions;and I must give the Bax & Dyson another spin. Oh,I like Bach's too!! Perhaps I DO quite like Violin Concertos?! Elgar's no!!! ::) Anyway,I must admit;the main interest for me,in some ways (I must admit!) was a chance to listen to a presumably really good performance of his Poem for Orchestra No 1 "The Raven" in really top hole Cpo recording quality and compare it with the Marco Polo;which like most people,has been my only point of contact with this tone poem.

Haven't finished listening to it,yet!!

Online vandermolen

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Re: Joseph Holbrooke(1878-1958)
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2016, 01:30:11 PM »
It arrived today! I like the " Grasshopper" concerto in it's various guises;and I don't usually like Violin Concertos. The Korngold,Moeran,Khatchaturian are exceptions;and I must give the Bax & Dyson another spin. Oh,I like Bach's too!! Perhaps I DO quite like Violin Concertos?! Elgar's no!!! ::) Anyway,I must admit;the main interest for me,in some ways (I must admit!) was a chance to listen to a presumably really good performance of his Poem for Orchestra No 1 "The Raven" in really top hole Cpo recording quality and compare it with the Marco Polo;which like most people,has been my only point of contact with this tone poem.

Haven't finished listening to it,yet!!
I largely agree with you in relation to violin concertos and prefer the one by Bliss to Elgar's. Respighi's Concerto Gregoriano is a beautiful work. When I first heard it on the radio I thought it must be by Finzi! Pettersson's Violin Concerto 2 is the greatest of all in my opinion. Shostakovich No.1 is also terrific and Williamson's VC.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).