Author Topic: Truscott's Tribulations  (Read 1609 times)

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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Truscott's Tribulations
« on: March 29, 2015, 07:13:45 PM »
How many recordings does a composer have to have before he can have a thread?

Anyway Harold Truscott now has three currently available recordings:







Truscott (1914-1992) was a composer from a working-class background, like Havergal Brian. He never quite succeeded in getting his music performed regularly or getting his name known, in part due to the hostility of BBC Radio 3 in the 1960s to non-avant garde music. He taught music for many years at Huddesfield Polytechnic in Yorkshire, which meant his time for composition was limited. He also had odd work habits (he would work on pieces, then put them aside, sometimes for many years, before working on them again) which meant that at his death his legacy consisted of a mass of paperwork, with few obviously finished compositions. I believe that the Marco Polo disk of orchestral music is about there is (A Symphony, A Suite and an Elegy), without someone doing reconstructive work, and there aren’t too much more chamber works, besides those on the other MP disk. However, there are 22 completed piano sonatas on which his reputation will rest (great  though the orchestra and chamber music are). Of these about half were recorded and released on LP in the early 80s by Altarus. But frustratingly, these were never released on CD. (One, with Sonatas 9, 13, 15, is posted on Youtube however, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CApY_vhnzr4).

With the first Toccata disk we can begin to appreciate Truscottt’ originality. The Sonata No.7 was a piece that Truscott, himself an accomplished pianist, used to play as a demonstration of his work. It’s surprising that it gained no more than the odd convert (like Havergal Brian) as it is a compelling work sounding like a Scarlatti one-movement sonata brought up to C20 date. It is one span of original, driving, jostling, inventive material that is incredibly exciting and not in the least pianistic. It’s difficult to think of any piano works that have this integrity of sound: Beethoven, Schubert, Dukas’ Piano Sonata and the Piano Sonata of Robert Simpson (a friend of Truscott’s) spring to mind, but not many others. Other Sonatas (like No. 5 (‘In Memory of Nicholai Medtner’) are multi-movement works (no.5 doesn’t sound anything like Medtner btw). No 13 (on the Youtube video) has a slow movement that, like the slow passages in Simpson’s Piano Concerto, is reflective, still and beautifully contemplative, and is contrasted with flanking movements of lively and vital movement.

I hope the Toccata series continues to provide us with regular Truscott fixes, because the music is well worth it.

Offline Augustus

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2015, 11:52:07 AM »
The Elegy for Strings is one of the most wonderful pieces of string music in the British repertoire.  For that alone Truscott would deserve to be played and remembered.  I would recommend it to anyone to listen to it, and it can be found on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhMqsF-EK64

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2015, 11:40:42 PM »
The Symphony and Elegy are very impressive. I especially like the glowering darkness at the end of the Symphony, which was one of my favourite Marco Polo discoveries along with Godfried Devreese's 'Gothic Symphony' (yes, another one!), Meulemans's, 'Pliny's Fountain' and Auric's magical film score for 'Beauty and the Beast'.
"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 71 dB

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2015, 03:46:09 AM »

I have owned this discs for 15 years maybe, but I haven't listened to it for a looooong time. I'm listening to it now.  :)
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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2015, 12:02:18 AM »
Eventually I bought one of the Altarus LPs from Amazon, and sent it to Klassichaus to be transcribed. It's the one with Sonatas 3/7/11 on (the 7th Sonata can be compared to the recording on the recent Toccata disk.

http://klassichaus.us/Truscott-Piano-Sonati.php

It costs $5 for a download, and $10 for a CD-r. You can download the delightful programme notes by Truscott himself as a PDF as an appetiser.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2018, 06:11:22 AM »
I've been listening today to the Marco Polo CD of orchestral,music shown above and can't recommend it highly enough. Most online reviews tend to focus on the beautiful, eloquent and moving 'Elegy for String Orchestra' but the the Symphony is IMHO a deeply impressive work, at one point towards the end, reminding me of Bruckner and ending in a brooding coda of glowering darkness.

Just the kind of music that I like.
 8)
« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 06:13:02 AM by vandermolen »
"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).

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2018, 10:06:55 AM »
I've been listening today to the Marco Polo CD of orchestral,music shown above and can't recommend it highly enough. Most online reviews tend to focus on the beautiful, eloquent and moving 'Elegy for String Orchestra' but the the Symphony is IMHO a deeply impressive work, at one point towards the end, reminding me of Bruckner and ending in a brooding coda of glowering darkness.

Just the kind of music that I like.
 8)

I'll be listening to this symphony soon because of your encouragement  ;)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2018, 11:25:14 AM »
I'll be listening to this symphony soon because of your encouragement  ;)

Well, I'll be most interested to read what you think Cesar - listening today I found the ending perhaps less 'redemptive' but more staring unflinchingly into the darkness. Either way I find it very moving and hope that you will enjoy it too. Sections reminded me a bit of Nielsen, Bruckner and of his friend Havergal Brian. Make sure that you hear the moving 'Elegy' as well - it should be much better known.

Thanks for replying to this and Prokofiev  :)
"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).

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2018, 10:54:07 AM »
Yesterday I gave a spin to the Symphony. The H. Brian and Sibelius echoes are perceivable, maybe Simpson too (?). It was interesting but not a particularly striking work, possibly because I'm not a fan of Brian. The 3rd movement had to be the best, it's a funereal lament of a great depth, while the other movements sounded craggy. The Elegy for strings shares a pretty similar atmosphere with the 3rd movement of the symphony. I think it lacked a more consummate feeling to it, I expected a "sad climax" somewhere, but it never happened. All in all, the pieces were worth listening.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2018, 12:00:45 PM »
Yesterday I gave a spin to the Symphony. The H. Brian and Sibelius echoes are perceivable, maybe Simpson too (?). It was interesting but not a particularly striking work, possibly because I'm not a fan of Brian. The 3rd movement had to be the best, it's a funereal lament of a great depth, while the other movements sounded craggy. The Elegy for strings shares a pretty similar atmosphere with the 3rd movement of the symphony. I think it lacked a more consummate feeling to it, I expected a "sad climax" somewhere, but it never happened. All in all, the pieces were worth listening.
Thanks for giving it a spin Cesar. I was interested to hear your views.  :)
"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: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2018, 01:00:12 PM »
I have owned this discs for 15 years maybe, but I haven't listened to it for a looooong time. I'm listening to it now.  :)
It's still lingering on my shelves as well; all those hot recommendations of obscure composers, by Vandermolen ....  ;D
… 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

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2018, 03:37:27 PM »
Thanks for giving it a spin Cesar. I was interested to hear your views.  :)

On the contrary, thanks to you for introducing me to this new composer!  :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Truscott's Tribulations
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2018, 09:55:02 PM »
It's still lingering on my shelves as well; all those hot recommendations of obscure composers, by Vandermolen ....  ;D

Yes, but remember that when I got married my brother, in his speech, said that my new wife was 'doomed to years of listening to music by deservedly neglected composers'. A 'friend' said that he could have simply stopped his speech after the word 'doomed'.
 8)
"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).