Author Topic: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP  (Read 5956 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« on: May 20, 2009, 08:49:14 AM »
The British composer Nicholas Maw has died at the age of 73. Maw spent much of his time in recent years living and teaching in Baltimore.

The Daily Telegraph obituary-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/music-obituaries/5351376/Nicholas-Maw.html

I know that Maw had both admirers and detractors on this site and I cannot say that he was a particular favourite of mine amongst British composers. I do, however, like both the Violin Concerto(recorded by Joshua Bell), a work with a degree of warm Waltonian romanticism, and the massive orchestral epic "Odyssey"(superbly rendered on disc by Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra). Other Maw pieces are rather too close to later Britten for my tastes and his opera "Sophie's Choice" was a failure.

It is sad that another composer of that generation has now died and I mourn his passing.

Offline Guido

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2009, 09:20:14 AM »
Haven't heard any of his music, but maybe I should. Thanks for the recommendations. Why was his opera a failure?
Geologist.

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Offline J

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2009, 10:21:57 AM »
Haven't heard any of his music, but maybe I should. Thanks for the recommendations. Why was his opera a failure?

There's a pretty substantial piece for cello & orchestra on CD by Maw that might interest you - the "Sonata Notturna" (Nimbus).

Offline Guido

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2009, 10:43:19 AM »
Cheers - I didn't even know that existed! (Not often that happens when it comes to cello repertoire!) Will get it as a post exam treat for myself.
Geologist.

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2009, 12:56:56 PM »
Sorry to hear this but must confess to finding his music rather pretentious and unappealing. I have The Odyssey and must give it another go.

Colin, your mail box is full.
"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).

snyprrr

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2009, 03:07:59 PM »
I read the obituary in the Washington Post. Didn't know he was a "local", or that he taught at Peabody.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2009, 03:13:25 PM »
Haven't heard any of his music, but maybe I should. Thanks for the recommendations. Why was his opera a failure?

From the Telegraph obituary:

"Sadly for Maw, the piece received a drubbing from the critics, mainly on account of the libretto, which Maw had written himself and which was described by one critic as "chunks of Styron's dialogue – minus the literary expertise to give it balance, shape or structure". "

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2009, 03:17:32 PM »
Sorry to hear this but must confess to finding his music rather pretentious and unappealing. I have The Odyssey and must give it another go.

Colin, your mail box is full.

Sorted, Jeffrey.

Offline donaldopato

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2009, 03:51:25 PM »
I heard Odyssey live in St Louis with Slatkin conducting years ago. It was hard o digest in one sitting as is Rattle's recording, but is a fascinating piece. I must listen to it again.

Other than that, I know little of Maw's work.
Until I get my coffee in the morning I'm a fit companion only for a sore-toothed tiger." ~Joan Crawford

Offline jowcol

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2009, 08:39:27 AM »
I just gave Maw's the Odyssey a listen.  To be honest, I liked it very much on the whole in terms of color, and the individual melodic passages were very tasty.  It made much more of an impression on me than Harbison's Ulyssess.  It is so broad, however, that I didn't walk away with much feeling for it as a whole. In a way, it hit me like the earlier Bax symphonies-- you just surrender yourself to the color and orchestration, and plan on getting lost somewhere between the beginning and the end.   

Sitting through a performance of this, however, might be a bit much.  But it has been great to listen to at my own convenience, and I am sure I'll need to dig into it again.

wjp
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Duke Ellington

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2009, 06:43:25 AM »
I just gave Maw's the Odyssey a listen.  To be honest, I liked it very much on the whole in terms of color, and the individual melodic passages were very tasty.  It made much more of an impression on me than Harbison's Ulyssess.  It is so broad, however, that I didn't walk away with much feeling for it as a whole. In a way, it hit me like the earlier Bax symphonies-- you just surrender yourself to the color and orchestration, and plan on getting lost somewhere between the beginning and the end.   

Sitting through a performance of this, however, might be a bit much.  But it has been great to listen to at my own convenience, and I am sure I'll need to dig into it again.

wjp

Thanks - you have encouraged me to try again with this work.
"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 Catison

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2009, 05:36:42 AM »
I remember the day I spontaneously bought his Violin Concerto with Joshua Bell.  I liked the cover.  I have listened to the Odyssey as well, but I simply don't get it yet.

Too bad there won't be any more music.
-Brett

karlhenning

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2009, 07:20:16 AM »
I just gave Maw's the Odyssey a listen.  To be honest, I liked it very much on the whole in terms of color, and the individual melodic passages were very tasty.  It made much more of an impression on me than Harbison's Ulyssess.  It is so broad, however, that I didn't walk away with much feeling for it as a whole. In a way, it hit me like the earlier Bax symphonies-- you just surrender yourself to the color and orchestration, and plan on getting lost somewhere between the beginning and the end.   

Sitting through a performance of this, however, might be a bit much. . . .

Sometimes, with such works, I actually find it an advantage to be present in the space during a performance.

Offline springrite

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2009, 07:27:12 AM »
Maw's music sounds better through the headphone, or in a closet or otherwise very small room. I don't listen to them much since my rooms are too big (?) but the three or four times when I did listen they sounded interesting in a dense and constricted way. I have not heard the violin concerto though.
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Offline CRCulver

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2013, 06:00:26 AM »
The Rattle recording of Maw’s Odyssey for EMI is said to have been a total fiasco: less than 100 copies sold. I'm amused to find that Ashgate has released a book on the piece in their "Landmarks in Music since the 1950s" series. More copies will be sold of the book about the piece (to university libraries, of course) than the actual music itself.

cilgwyn

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2013, 06:49:53 AM »
So,I bought one of those copies,then! That must have helped!! ;D

Maybe if Rattle wanted to record something big he should have chosen Brian's 'Gothic'! Whatever your opinion of the music,it's cult appeal,record breaking size,intriguing background to the work & it's composer might have sold a few copies! ;D
As to Maw's 'Odyssey'. I remember actually enjoying a performance on the Radio 3. I actually taped it at the time. When I got the emi recording I played it quite allot. I actually found it very engrossing,even exciting!!! Then I just seemed to lose interest & so far nothing has induced me back. I come across the cd-r's ( the original cd set has long gone!) and I think,maybe I'll put it on,but for some reason I don't! I don't really know why,it's not that bad,really! I just keep finding more interesting things to put on.
I do quite like the way Maw is obviously trying to draw on the late romantic sound world of early 20th century composers & assimilate them into something comparably expansive and presumably,modern. In a way,his 'Odyssey' comes across as the kind of orchestral work by a 'contemporary' composer that you're granny could enjoy. It's very tonal,accessible,lyrical & at times colourful. And then you put on Mahler & you see what's wrong. Maw's 'Odyssey' lacks any kind of personal identity,it's very clever,but in a clinical,emotionless kind of way & ultimately rather bland. Fair play to Maw for trying though!
As to the mammoth 'Gothic! With all it's faults,just listening to a few minutes of it & I can see what's missing from Maw's outsize effort. Brian's no Mahler,but there's a genuine fervour and commitment to his gargantuan vision. Almost as if his life depended on writing it!
And it probably did!! ??? ;D

« Last Edit: June 12, 2013, 08:11:45 AM by cilgwyn »

snyprrr

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2013, 05:39:15 PM »
I'm sorry, but as soon as I saw 'Maw' I was like, "AAArrgh, Why would anyone make a Maw Thread?",... THEN I saw RIP and I was like sad and sorry,... THEN I saw my previous Post and realized I've been like had!! Like!!!

I'll put a word in for the band piece 'American Games', a solid, 20min. substantial piece by the President's Own. It's one of the few examples of Modern Band Music I have (in the Normal Music vein). If you like something like Persichetti you should really like this.

Sean

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2013, 12:31:14 AM »
cilgwyn, absolutely.

More than anything it shows what gross misjudgements Rattle came to make.

cilgwyn

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2013, 02:28:06 PM »
cilgwyn, absolutely.

More than anything it shows what gross misjudgements Rattle came to make.
Fair dues to the bloke,mind. I wish I could compose a big orchestral work & get it recorded. I'd have rather composed the 'Gothic',though!
I should admit,at this stage,that I am a little biased,in that I'm not very keen on Rattle. I don't know why,really. I just find him a bit dull and overrated. I think there are allot of far more interesting conductors around. He just doesn't fire me. A bit like Maw's 'Odyssey',I suppose! Of course,who am I to criticise Rattle,and he did help bring Szymanowski in from the cold. Now,he was a more worthwhile cause! Dead,of course,like Maw is now,and come to think of it,I wouldn't mind hearing Dorati's recordings of Symphonies 2 & 3,again. My first encounter with that composer......all those years ago!! :( ;D Not saying they're the best,but they're the first I heard.
Nostalgia,eh?!! :)

Sean

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Re: Nicholas Maw(1935-2009) RIP
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2013, 03:11:36 PM »
I went to see Rattle conduct many times in Birmingham Town Hall before the superb Symphony Hall was built and he found the spirit of a great deal of music from the Pastoral to Rhapsody in blue with remarkable youthful immediacy; in later years he's developed this idea of stress and effort, which is totally misplaced. His Beethoven cycle with the VPO is just unlistenable and wrongheaded.

I also got to know the Szymanowski voice and orchestra symphony from the Dorati.