Author Topic: Grace Williams  (Read 6517 times)

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cilgwyn

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Grace Williams
« on: December 01, 2016, 03:12:47 AM »
I didn't realise until now that Grace Williams,the Welsh composer had her own website;and a pretty good one it is too. You can ever listen to examples of her music. Whole works,maybe? I haven't really had time to look (too busy!). I am surprised that there isn't a thread,though. I can't find one,anyway! Maybe there is one? Maybe,I just need new glasses! HELP!!! :o I was just going to post the link,and.........nothing there!!! ??? :o ;D So here is a thread. My first at the GMG. I usually leave it to others. The only threads I ever perform being trouser hems & a buttons on a duvet;which I hated......but it saves paying a dressmaker!!
Anyway,Grace Williams was a leading Welsh composer and a bit of a pioneer in her field here;although before her there was the glamorous and legendary (in Wales!) Morfydd Owen,who died young in mysterious circumstances. Some people say she was murdered!! Incidentally,you can now download a piece of music by her from Amazon. (Her story is so interesting and really justifies giving Morfydd Owen her own thread. She is a source of fascination here in Wales,and there have been numerous tv programs and some books published about her,over the years).
Grace Williams (1906-1977) who was born in Barry on the coast of Glamorganshire, wrote various orchestral works,including symphonies and concertos. Her Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes (1940) is still very popular in Wales and played (fairly) regularly. One of her best known compositions here is the Sea Sketches (1944) for string orchestra. This gets played fairly often;but perhaps not as much as it should? Other music gets played less frequently,if at all;although her large scale Missa Cambrensis was performed recently,and is due to be released on cd,by Lyrita. She also wrote a one act opera,The Parlour.

http://gracewilliamscompo.wixsite.com/officialwebsite (Hope this works. It's up  there,anyway!)







The Chandos cd is a favourite of mine (amongst the three all GW cds available) ;but unfortunately it has been deleted by Chandos. It is available as a download,though. I finally got a cheap copy s/h. You've just got to keep looking if you want something! :( :) The Ballades are also available on a BBC music Magazine cd,coupled with a work by Benjamin Britten. I didn't know about this one;but it's pictured on the Grace Williams website and you can buy it s/h,apparently! I also spotted Sea Sketches performed by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra conducted by Roy Goodman. More please!!
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 04:26:23 AM by cilgwyn »

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2016, 07:20:02 AM »
The BBCNOW performed Grace Williams' Missa Cambrensis on St. David's Day this year. We desperately NEED a recording of that! It was a stunning work, right up there with the greats!

cilgwyn

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2016, 08:00:41 AM »
Lyrita are supposed to be releasing the performance on cd. I thought it was going to be this year. The GW website states that,according to Gramophone,it will be released in August 2016. Well,that's been and gone. You can download it at the Art Music Forum. You have to join first. It's free,of course! I haven't looked at the dates to see which performance it is. I actually downloaded it earlier today.
There is good news if you like her compatriot Daniel Jones. Lyrita are releasing the BBC Radio 3 performances of his symphonies 1 & 10 in January 2017;and all the other unrecorded symphonies will follow;except for,possibly,the unnumbered thirteenth;Symphony "In Memoriam John Fussell"?

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2016, 09:06:36 AM »
Lyrita are supposed to be releasing the performance on cd. I thought it was going to be this year. The GW website states that,according to Gramophone,it will be released in August 2016. Well,that's been and gone. You can download it at the Art Music Forum. You have to join first. It's free,of course! I haven't looked at the dates to see which performance it is. I actually downloaded it earlier today.
There is good news if you like her compatriot Daniel Jones. Lyrita are releasing the BBC Radio 3 performances of his symphonies 1 & 10 in January 2017;and all the other unrecorded symphonies will follow;except for,possibly,the unnumbered thirteenth;Symphony "In Memoriam John Fussell"?

There is a performance of Jones 13 on Youtube, so it has been recorded. It's been a great thrill to discover that my home country has a good number of fine 20th-century symphonists, from Williams to Jones to Hoddinott to Mathias.

cilgwyn

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2016, 09:29:02 AM »
Hopefully,they'll add that one. Lyrita's releases will be a nice tribute to the underrated Bryden Thompson,who would have obviously loved to have recorded a cycle of Daniel Jones symphonies for commercial release if he'd had the chance. I know he spoke about his enthusiasm for them in an interview. And now his performances will be,anyway!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2016, 12:23:40 PM »
Grace Jones's Symphony 2 is a terrific score, very much in the spirit of her teacher Vaughan Williams's Symphony 4. I like both of the Lyrita CDs of her music, including 'Penillion', 'Sea Sketches' etc.
"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 calyptorhynchus

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2016, 12:35:28 PM »
She's a fantastic composer, one of my favourites. As well as the works that have been mentioned there are recordings off the radio in the usual places (inc Youtube) of the Symphony No.1, the Sinfonia Concertante for Piano and Orchestra, the Violin Concerto &c

My only regret about her music is that she never tried her hand at string quartets.

cilgwyn

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2016, 01:16:57 PM »
Grace Jones's Symphony 2 is a terrific score, very much in the spirit of her teacher Vaughan Williams's Symphony 4. I like both of the Lyrita CDs of her music, including 'Penillion', 'Sea Sketches' etc.
Seconded! And of course Daniel Jones did! Just looked at the price s/h earlier on Amazon!! ??? :o

By the way,vandermolen. I think you mean Grace Williams,not the 80's chanteuse!! I've done the same thing,though. I press 'enter' and suddenly I'm confronted with "Pull up to the bumper" and "Nipple to the bottle"! ??? :o  Different haircut,too!! ;D


Offline vandermolen

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2016, 01:32:39 PM »
Seconded! And of course Daniel Jones did! Just looked at the price s/h earlier on Amazon!! ??? :o

By the way,vandermolen. I think you mean Grace Williams,not the 80's chanteuse!! I've done the same thing,though. I press 'enter' and suddenly I'm confronted with "Pull up to the bumper" and "Nipple to the bottle"! ??? :o  Different haircut,too!! ;D
Freudian slip  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).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2016, 10:15:29 PM »
.... slip  8)
Well Grace Jones is famous for quite often being without one, so I can understand your attention wandering. I mean, what would Grace Jones be without a slip? On second thought, don't answer that one.......
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 11:38:54 PM by The new erato »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2016, 11:53:23 PM »
Well Grace Jones is famous for quite often being without one, so I can understand your attention wandering. I mean, what would Grace Jones be without a slip? On second thought, don't answer that one.......
:)
"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: Grace Williams
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2016, 10:19:50 AM »
 ;D
Seriously! I was wondering what some of those Grace Williams compositions looked like when they were released in Lp form. They would have been in the libraries here in Wales,and probably in other adventurously inclined branches. I remember my disappointment at the way their collections seem to diminish when cds took over. The photo on the front of the Lp is of Porthkerry in the Vale of Glamorgan.






Living in Wales ,of course,there is great fun in spotting all the songs in her Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes,which are of course as well known here as Baa Baa Black Sheep and the like,elsewhere,and many of which we sang at school. It's still a popular piece here,and I think it's one of the most well crafted of it's kind in the genre. Thie back of this old Lp gives a nice break down of the songs included in the work.



The mini biography from the back of the Lp. I bought two books of Guy de Maupassant stories recently,after watching the French Film Le Plaisir directed by Max Ophuls (which is based on three of his short stories) with my father. After that it was back to fifties sci-fi and old movie series!! ;D I did actually enjoy that movie though! Guy de Maupassant,of course,is the bloke who hated the Eiffel Tower so much that he used to sit in the restaurant up there;because it was the only place in Paris where he wouldn't be able to see it! I have tried to check out this story,just in case it's just one of those myths that develop and aren't really true;but he was part of a campaign against it,and he definitely did hate it. There must have been other places where you could sit,though. I suppose it's the irony of it that appealed to him? He also wrote some creepy horror stories,including 'The Horla',in which the hero is terrorised by an invisible entity which follows him off an anchored ship. He wakes up in the night thinking it's sitting on his chest. I think he even burns down his house,hoping the creature might die in the fire!! Unfortunately for me,Grace Williams chose another story for her opera!!  :( ;D



This is the one with the different haircut!

(Scary photo of Grace Jones removed!)
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 06:32:06 AM by cilgwyn »

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2016, 09:19:20 PM »
I went to the official Grace Williams website today and wanted to listen to the original version of the Second Symphony. I only got  few minutes in before the sound dropped out (several times).

Perhaps someone with better internet then me could listen to the original version and report whether there are any significant differences compared to the revised version of 1975, the first few minutes of the first movement that I heard sounded identical to the later version.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2016, 01:18:20 AM »
;D
Seriously! I was wondering what some of those Grace Williams compositions looked like when they were released in Lp form. They would have been in the libraries here in Wales,and probably in other adventurously inclined branches. I remember my disappointment at the way their collections seem to diminish when cds took over. The photo on the front of the Lp is of Porthkerry in the Vale of Glamorgan.






Living in Wales ,of course,there is great fun in spotting all the songs in her Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes,which are of course as well known here as Baa Baa Black Sheep and the like,elsewhere,and many of which we sang at school. It's still a popular piece here,and I think it's one of the most well crafted of it's kind in the genre. Thie back of this old Lp gives a nice break down of the songs included in the work.



The mini biography from the back of the Lp. I bought two books of Guy de Maupassant stories recently,after watching the French Film Le Plaisir directed by Max Ophuls (which is based on three of his short stories) with my father. After that it was back to fifties sci-fi and old movie series!! ;D I did actually enjoy that movie though! Guy de Maupassant,of course,is the bloke who hated the Eiffel Tower so much that he used to sit in the restaurant up there;because it was the only place in Paris where he wouldn't be able to see it! I have tried to check out this story,just in case it's just one of those myths that develop and aren't really true;but he was part of a campaign against it,and he definitely did hate it. There must have been other places where you could sit,though. I suppose it's the irony of it that appealed to him? He also wrote some creepy horror stories,including 'The Horla',in which the hero is terrorised by an invisible entity which follows him off an anchored ship. He wakes up in the night thinking it's sitting on his chest. I think he even burns down his house,hoping the creature might die in the fire!! Unfortunately for me,Grace Williams chose another story for her opera!!  :( ;D



This is the one with the different haircut!


Great LP cover (Williams not Jones), yes, those old LP sleeves were often works of art in themselves. Now, we just get photos of Sir Simon Rattle, Herbert von K. or Anne Sophie M instead, which is so boring. I remember that my LP featuring Daniel Jones's Symphony 4 'In Memory of Dylan Thomas' had a great Welsh coastal image on the cover.

I remember that Guy de Maupassant story about the Eifel Tower. I have used it when teaching the history of the structure. As for 50s horror movies - 'Night of the Demon' and 'Dead of Night' (actually 1945) get my vote.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 01:20:28 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).

cilgwyn

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2016, 04:57:54 AM »
Yes,those cds with shots of conductors facing into the camera really are a turn off. There were a few exceptions,years ago. Boult,looking like an old colonel. Beecham was always welcome. He was such a character. I actually quite like those Sony cds with him sitting in that armchair!! Klemperer seemed to get away with it on some of those Lps. The glasses.The profile. The seriousness. His profile seemed to,somehow,go with the music making. And strangely,for me. Awful and vain as he undoubtely was. Karajan in all those wierd shots of him,baton poised in hand. I didn't like the man;but he did have that maestro aura about him;even if the results were a little too smooth & efficient at times. The huge ego,and the Berlin Philharmonic,one of the worlds great orchestras at his command! It seemed exciting,in a wierd kind of way! The hair helped,I suppose! Like Stokowski!! ;D I think the problem with the recent conductors is the lack of charisma. Not that I would care to call Karajan charismatic;but he did have that aura about him. His controversial past also helped. Adding a kind of mythology of it's own. The present day conductors are probably (well most of them) much nicer people;but they're just a bit dull. That's not all their fault. I think it's partly just the times we live in. You can't really be a Beecham or a Karajan,a Furtwangler or a Fritz Reiner,these days. Beecham would have to drop his trademark cigars for a start!! :( ;D
As to the artwork on those Lps. Yes,I totally agree. Brilliant choices. And of course,back in those days,allot of people would prop the Lp up,while they listened to it. I know I did! You'd sort of look at the front of it while you listened. I know that those Chandos Bax cds with those land and seascapes were killers for me. I'd pore over the photos. The ones on the front of Bax's First and Second symphony are a case in point. Also,Winter Legends. Very,very thoughtfully chosen,and some really excellent photographs. Good enough to frame and put on your wall!


Brilliant choice of photographs imho!

NB: I think I will have to remove that other Grace. I think she's scaring people away!! ??? ;D

cilgwyn

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2016, 06:26:57 AM »
I think I'm thinking of the inside of the booklets,there,actually! :-[ ;D Yes,there is that maestro thing about certain conductors;but not too many photos of Herbert K,as you call him!! Did he fancy himself,or what?!! As to Mutter. I don't resent the inclusion of one photo of her inside the booklet......just in case I've forgotten what she looked like!. She is,after all, quite pleasant to look at and she is a talented musician. But I remember counting about fifteen or more inside one of her recent recordings!! This was someone who was once photographed next to Herbert von Karajan, looking very dowdy in a woolly sweater!! (Mutter not Herbert!) Now it's multiple shots of her in assorted evening gowns. But,it is possible that the record label insist on it?
Do these kind of cover shots really help to sell cds,though? Here's one I bought earlier,and a case in point!!



Ahem! Seriously,I was stocking up on recordings of chamber & instrumental music at the time. I like the chamber music of these two composers,and there aren't so many recordings of Bax's String Quartets and this seemed an interesting combination. Nevertheless,despite the 'babe' style marketing;I think these are good performances,and I think the juxtaposition of Bax and Elgar is actually very interesting,enjoyable and satisfying. Would I have bought it if it hadn't had this photo on the cover? No.....I mean,yes ;D....because I was looking for multiple copies of these works;particularly the Bax. Would I have preferred a landscape or appropriate work of art on the front? Well,I can't say I dislike this one,and it's one of the better examples of it's kind. That said,I do think that it's a sad reflection of the dumbed down age we live in. It might even put off some serious collectors from acquiring, what are in actual fact some pretty good performances. That said,I do actually have two other recordings made by the Pavao Quartet of them playing arrangements of popular standards. Quite nice late at night!

cilgwyn

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2016, 10:54:41 AM »
And back to Grace Williams and this view of Porthkerry in the Vale of Glamorgan...........


Offline vandermolen

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2016, 03:30:50 PM »
And back to Grace Williams and this view of Porthkerry in the Vale of Glamorgan...........


Yes, I'd rather have this image than the 'babe' one and yes, those Chandos Bax covers were very good indeed as were the J.M.W.Turner paintings on the Thomson Vaughan Williams cycle.

« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 03:32:53 PM 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).

cilgwyn

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2016, 03:58:48 PM »
Yes,a bit embarassing really! :-[ Bax & Elgar String Quartets make an interesting combination. An enjoyable cd;but a rather embarassing cover. If they really want to be taken seriously? But perhaps they were pressured?! I don't know why I was being so kind about Herbert! I think I was a bit chuffed because I have just obtained a s/h cd of his Mahler 6. The first one recording I ever heard. I hadn't heard it for years. He makes 'Alma's theme' so romantic. Got the Mahler bug now. The cds are piling up!! :(
I must say,if it's not a painting,or a well chosen photograph;my next preference is for a photo of the composer. Grace Williams or Daniel Jones on the front is fine by me. That great shot of Havergal Brian on the old emi Lp of Symphonies 8 & 9,for example. But when you think that Daniel Jones and Grace Williams,or Vaughan Williams or Bax,for that matter,were often inspired by the land,or seascapes (or both?) around them,the choice of such a photo or painting,does make sense. Also,I'm sure that they would have felt that it was the music that was important,not them. Unlike Herbert Von K,they didn't have colossal egos!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Grace Williams
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2016, 11:24:08 PM »
Perhaps one of the more unfortunate images in view of his past political affiliation.  8)
Yes, I prefer landscapes/seascapes. However that Havergal Brian symphonies 8 and 9 photo was terrific. It is back again, in a mini-version, in the fine Charles Groves boxed set of recordings.


« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 11:43:46 PM 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).