Author Topic: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930  (Read 4016 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« on: August 22, 2009, 01:38:40 PM »
Warlock was the 'Satanic pseudonym' of Philip Heseltine, who gassed himself in 1930 (after having first put his cat outside the door). I have been listening to his masterpiece - 'The Curlew' a setting for tenor and chamber group of a poem by W B Yeats. In this work of great beauty Warlock 'explored creatively the melancholy and despair which lay at the roots`of his Jekyll and Hyde personality'' (Michael Kennedy). Well worth a listen if you don't know it. It is about to be reissued in a wonderful performance by Ian Partridge (tenor) and The Music Group of London on EMI (double album) with his fine Capriol Suite - a work in the great tradition of English string music (a bit like Holst's St Paul's Suite). Also on the CD is Ian Partridge's unrivalled performance of the chamber version of Vaughan Williams's 'On Wenlock Edge' etc.http://www.peterwarlock.org/

« Last Edit: August 22, 2009, 01:44:16 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

canninator

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2009, 01:42:56 AM »
Coincidentally, as I read this I am listening to my latest purchase for the first time. Too early really to formulate much of an opinion but as I am sitting at work the fact that The Curlew turned my head bodes well for the future.


Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2009, 03:33:48 AM »
As I wrote a few weeks ago in the listening thread, The Curlew is almost unique in conjuring up a mood of "a lost soul moving" to quote John Berryman, who wrote poetically of his experience hearing the music at Clare College Cambridge in the 30s:

Friendless in Clare, except Brian Boydell,
a Dubliner with no hair
an expressive tenor speaking voice
who introduced me to the music of Peter Warlock

who had just knocked himself off, fearing the return
of his other personality, Philip Heseltine.
Brian used to play
The Curlew with the lights out,
voice of a lost soul moving...


To other worthy Curlews are sung by John Mark Ainsley and Martyn Hill. I prefer Hill because he doesn't have that typical English tenor sound.





Sarge
« Last Edit: August 24, 2009, 04:18:04 AM by Sergeant Rock »
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 08:08:46 AM »
Coincidentally, as I read this I am listening to my latest purchase for the first time. Too early really to formulate much of an opinion but as I am sitting at work the fact that The Curlew turned my head bodes well for the future.



I'll be interested to hear what you think. Certainly, it's unlike any other work I know although 'The Trees so High' by Patrick Hadley (one of my favourite works) inhabits a similarly hauntingly gloomy sound world.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2009, 08:10:10 AM »
As I wrote a few weeks ago in the listening thread, The Curlew is almost unique in conjuring up a mood of "a lost soul moving" to quote John Berryman, who wrote poetically of his experience hearing the music at Clare College Cambridge in the 30s:

Friendless in Clare, except Brian Boydell,
a Dubliner with no hair
an expressive tenor speaking voice
who introduced me to the music of Peter Warlock

who had just knocked himself off, fearing the return
of his other personality, Philip Heseltine.
Brian used to play
The Curlew with the lights out,
voice of a lost soul moving...


To other worthy Curlews are sung by John Mark Ainsley and Martyn Hill. I prefer Hill because he doesn't have that typical English tenor sound.





Sarge


Thanks Sarge - I didn't see your earlier post. Thanks for the poem too.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

canninator

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2009, 04:24:36 AM »
Well, The Curlew is surely the highlight of the Naxos CD. Without trying to sound to fuzzy, the violin in its brief solo parts is very reminiscent of RVW, particularly the viola of the Tallis Fantasia (I can pick out timings if people really want). The piece is also strewn with Delius but, despite this, does come off as an assured and original work rather than a pastiche. The rest of the songs is more of a mixed bag, I can't pick out individual songs at the moment but it's clear that as a song writer of any measure, Warlock lacks both the emotive capacity of Finzi and the wit of Britten. Some of the more jaunty songs here are downright clunky (Mr Bellocs Fancy springs to mind).

This CD pretty much confirms my preconception that Warlock is a minor figure at best. I don't think I would recommend this CD unless you were a completist for the English Song Series (guilty as charged here) but would recommend instead getting The Curlew on a separate disc with the Capriol Suite (probably on one of the discs Sarge recommended).

Offline Irons

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2018, 03:11:48 AM »
I believe Peter Warlock was touched by genius but the problem was he couldn't handle it. Like Constant Lambert, who also had a short life, you can be too clever for your own good. For both, composing was one of many strings to their bow. No one can accuse Warlock for not living life to the full - how many composers rode a motorbike around their village stark naked! He had a dark side, it is said that it was through his influence that Moeran became an alcoholic. Not Britain's greatest composer, but one of it's most interesting.
I think the haunting "The Curlew" was Warlock's finest work. Similar in scope to RVW "On Wenlock Edge" I never tire of either. Ian Partridge and Music Group of London have recorded both excellently. Not as well recorded, I would be surprised if ever released on CD, but I have a special attachment to the old Argo with Alexander Young and the Sebastian String Quartet which take "haunting" to a whole new level.

     
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 03:16:53 AM by Irons »
The familiar rat-a-tat of enemy machine-guns joined the melee. It was like an orchestra from hell, it’s tune being played out by the instruments of death. - The Sun Will Always Shine, John R McKay.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2018, 04:55:33 AM »
I believe Peter Warlock was touched by genius but the problem was he couldn't handle it. Like Constant Lambert, who also had a short life, you can be too clever for your own good. For both, composing was one of many strings to their bow. No one can accuse Warlock for not living life to the full - how many composers rode a motorbike around their village stark naked! He had a dark side, it is said that it was through his influence that Moeran became an alcoholic. Not Britain's greatest composer, but one of it's most interesting.
I think the haunting "The Curlew" was Warlock's finest work. Similar in scope to RVW "On Wenlock Edge" I never tire of either. Ian Partridge and Music Group of London have recorded both excellently. Not as well recorded, I would be surprised if ever released on CD, but I have a special attachment to the old Argo with Alexander Young and the Sebastian String Quartet which take "haunting" to a whole new level.

     

I'm with you here although there is a darker side, I think, to 'The Curlew' compared to 'On Wenlock Edge' and more personal. Apparently he put the cat outside before gassing himself. I find this rather touching.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2019, 09:12:45 AM »
I've been listening to this fine disc from Sarge's post. It's a great programme with 'The Curlew' following on from the lovely 'Capriol Suite' and I enjoy all the other works as well. The Ian Partridge recording of 'The Curlew' (also listed above) remains in a class of its own but this version is very enjoyable too. The moment when the tenor speaks the line 'the boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams' is one of the most chilling and poignant moments I know in music, especially in view of what happened to the composer:
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Klaatu

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2019, 10:35:50 AM »
Warlock has the honour of being one of the

"Six Magnificent Classical-Music-Composing Bastards"

on this blog - along with fellow Brits Havergal Brian and Ernest Moeran:

http://www.mrdankelly.com/blog/?p=1343

Enjoy!

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) 1894-1930
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2019, 12:25:07 PM »
Warlock has the honour of being one of the

"Six Magnificent Classical-Music-Composing Bastards"

on this blog - along with fellow Brits Havergal Brian and Ernest Moeran:

http://www.mrdankelly.com/blog/?p=1343

Enjoy!

Thanks for the link...and I did enjoy.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"