Author Topic: The British Composers Thread  (Read 90047 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Irons

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1178
  • Location: Surrey, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #440 on: August 13, 2019, 05:59:51 AM »
You have to hear 'The Trees so High'. It is in a class of its own IMO. Lol (Irons) agrees.
 :)

Thanks to this thread I listened to the Lyrita recording last night, Jeffrey. So beautifully paced and the choral ending is icing on cake.
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

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #441 on: August 14, 2019, 01:20:41 AM »
Thanks to this thread I listened to the Lyrita recording last night, Jeffrey. So beautifully paced and the choral ending is icing on cake.
Yes, it's a most wonderful performance Lol and one of Vernon Handley's finest achievements as well in my opinion. I wouldn't be without the Chandos twofer either, not least because of the Sainton works.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 01:25:41 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).

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #442 on: August 14, 2019, 01:29:36 AM »
Also his Symphony n 2. on Dutton IMHO is a great piece clearly inspired at RVW First

This is the 'Odysseus' Symphony I think. It didn't make much of an impression on me but I must have another listen to it following your recommendation.
"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 vers la flamme

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 423
  • Location: Atlanta
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #443 on: August 15, 2019, 01:40:46 AM »
I'm looking to branch out into hearing more English/British composers. My knowledge there is limited almost entirely to Vaughan Williams, who I like but don't really love. His music is clearly great, but I have to be in the right mood, etc.

If anyone can point me in the direction of key works, or better yet great recordings of said works, that would be greatly appreciated. One I'm particularly curious about is Delius, as he spent time living in my home state of Florida and wrote music about it. I'm looking at this CD:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61Hu0HaAiyL.jpg

... anyone have it? Other than that, how are those EMI "British Composers" series discs? This one, for example, looks good:



Elgar kind of mystifies me and I'm still looking for a way into his music. I'm convinced there is something great there but I don't know what.

Offline Biffo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1495
  • Location: United Kingdom
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #444 on: August 15, 2019, 03:01:54 AM »
I'm looking to branch out into hearing more English/British composers. My knowledge there is limited almost entirely to Vaughan Williams, who I like but don't really love. His music is clearly great, but I have to be in the right mood, etc.

If anyone can point me in the direction of key works, or better yet great recordings of said works, that would be greatly appreciated. One I'm particularly curious about is Delius, as he spent time living in my home state of Florida and wrote music about it. I'm looking at this CD:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61Hu0HaAiyL.jpg

... anyone have it? Other than that, how are those EMI "British Composers" series discs? This one, for example, looks good:



Elgar kind of mystifies me and I'm still looking for a way into his music. I'm convinced there is something great there but I don't know what.

I don't have the disc you mention but I do have a fine recording of the Florida Suite from Mackerras and the Welsh National Opera Orchestra. This Double Decca also contains his North Country Sketches and several shorter works. Appalachia is another work inspired by his time in America and one of my favourites; Mackerras/WNOO have also recorded that work for Decca. Both albums highly recommended.

Delius told Eric Fenby (his amanuensis and friend) that before moving to Florida he never looked at nature then for six months he did nothing else; clearly Florida made a big impact on him.

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #445 on: August 15, 2019, 03:44:40 AM »
I'm looking to branch out into hearing more English/British composers. My knowledge there is limited almost entirely to Vaughan Williams, who I like but don't really love. His music is clearly great, but I have to be in the right mood, etc.

If anyone can point me in the direction of key works, or better yet great recordings of said works, that would be greatly appreciated. One I'm particularly curious about is Delius, as he spent time living in my home state of Florida and wrote music about it. I'm looking at this CD:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61Hu0HaAiyL.jpg

... anyone have it? Other than that, how are those EMI "British Composers" series discs? This one, for example, looks good:



Elgar kind of mystifies me and I'm still looking for a way into his music. I'm convinced there is something great there but I don't know what.

I have that CD and it is very good. Barbirolli was a fine interpreter of Elgar and Vaughan Williams. My favourite Delius work is 'In a Summer Garden' but also the Violin and Piano concerto. Might I suggest Moeran's Symphony as well worth exploring. There are a number of recordings.
"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 Irons

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1178
  • Location: Surrey, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #446 on: August 15, 2019, 05:21:08 AM »


Elgar kind of mystifies me and I'm still looking for a way into his music. I'm convinced there is something great there but I don't know what.


I find it so interesting you say that and admire you a lot for having a go. I think it a fact that Elgar does not travel well and a few Americans I have talked to dismiss the 1st and admit there is worth in the 2nd. I think both symphonies are great and also the two concerti. Go for it! Barbirolli conducting Elgar's 1st Symphony and report back. I'm not sure Delius is a good starting point.
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 vers la flamme

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 423
  • Location: Atlanta
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #447 on: August 15, 2019, 07:05:37 AM »
Noted, thanks everyone. I’m listening to Mackerras’ recording of Delius’ Florida Suite and I like it. I like how atmospheric it is, very pastoral. I think this is a staple of English music or at least all that I know. I’ll look out for this two disc set.

I’ll give that Barbirolli/Elgar a shot. I have the Elgar Sea Pictures on Naxos and I like it, but before I got that (for free) I hadn’t heard anything of his that interested me. Anyway, I’m a fan of Barbirolli and I’ll give the music a shot on the strength of his interpretive abilities alone.

Moeran is one who was recently recommended to me as well. I’ll check out his first symphony.

Thanks anyone. Any other greats I’m missing?

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #448 on: August 15, 2019, 12:27:39 PM »
Noted, thanks everyone. I’m listening to Mackerras’ recording of Delius’ Florida Suite and I like it. I like how atmospheric it is, very pastoral. I think this is a staple of English music or at least all that I know. I’ll look out for this two disc set.

I’ll give that Barbirolli/Elgar a shot. I have the Elgar Sea Pictures on Naxos and I like it, but before I got that (for free) I hadn’t heard anything of his that interested me. Anyway, I’m a fan of Barbirolli and I’ll give the music a shot on the strength of his interpretive abilities alone.

Moeran is one who was recently recommended to me as well. I’ll check out his first symphony.

Thanks anyone. Any other greats I’m missing?
Yes, Walton Symphony 1
"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 Roasted Swan

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 582
  • Location: UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #449 on: August 15, 2019, 09:55:39 PM »
Yes, Walton Symphony 1

+1 for Walton 1..... and while you trying Walton listen to your local band here..... (James Judd/Aaron Rosand/Florida PO)



Judd is a fine conductor (who does an excellent Elgar 1 by the way) - but this includes some typically stirring film music plus the wonderful - and just recently departed - Aaron Rosand in the violin concerto.  This work shows the more elusive deeply lyrical side of Walton that the Symphony reveals less of.

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #450 on: August 31, 2019, 10:49:59 AM »
A marvellous (IMO) new release. I enjoyed every work (although less so the Cowen). However, the great new discovery for me was Patrick Hadley's tone poem 'Kinder Scout' of 1923. I expect that it will be of interest to Lol (Irons) of this forum in view of how much he enjoyed Hadley's poetic and moving masterpiece (which I can't recommend enough) 'The Trees so High'. 'Kinder Scout' lasts under seven minutes but I found it deeply affecting and am listening to it over and over again (or to use a phrase which amused the sadly missed cilgwyn, I can't stop playing 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).

Offline Irons

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1178
  • Location: Surrey, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #451 on: September 04, 2019, 10:31:36 AM »
A marvellous (IMO) new release. I enjoyed every work (although less so the Cowen). However, the great new discovery for me was Patrick Hadley's tone poem 'Kinder Scout' of 1923. I expect that it will be of interest to Lol (Irons) of this forum in view of how much he enjoyed Hadley's poetic and moving masterpiece (which I can't recommend enough) 'The Trees so High'. 'Kinder Scout' lasts under seven minutes but I found it deeply affecting and am listening to it over and over again (or to use a phrase which amused the sadly missed cilgwyn, I can't stop playing it).


Most interesting, Jeffrey. Another Hadley work is good news indeed, and 1923 is a significant year in the history of the football club I follow. Did you attend the recent Dorothy Howell Prom?

This gives me the opportunity to comment on the Alwyn VC after heads up from Jeffrey. On first hearing the subtlety of the work was lost on me but after subsequent hearings the penny dropped and I have grown to love the concerto. The first two movements are delicate and understated with a sad dreamlike quality. Melancholy is an overused term to describe music but this is what it is. The third movement is more traditional in concept. That the score sat forgotten in a draw for fifty years I cannot comprehend. I am full of admiration for the soloist Lydia Mordkovitch, a heavy hand would destroy this work but she does not fall into that trap. With her it is all about the music and respect for the composer. She was well taught by David Oistrakh.   
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

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #452 on: September 04, 2019, 11:55:04 AM »
Most interesting, Jeffrey. Another Hadley work is good news indeed, and 1923 is a significant year in the history of the football club I follow. Did you attend the recent Dorothy Howell Prom?

This gives me the opportunity to comment on the Alwyn VC after heads up from Jeffrey. On first hearing the subtlety of the work was lost on me but after subsequent hearings the penny dropped and I have grown to love the concerto. The first two movements are delicate and understated with a sad dreamlike quality. Melancholy is an overused term to describe music but this is what it is. The third movement is more traditional in concept. That the score sat forgotten in a draw for fifty years I cannot comprehend. I am full of admiration for the soloist Lydia Mordkovitch, a heavy hand would destroy this work but she does not fall into that trap. With her it is all about the music and respect for the composer. She was well taught by David Oistrakh.
Interesting Lol. Yes, I was at the Dorothy Howell Prom and greatly enjoyed every work, especially Weinberg's 3rd Symphony but it was great to hear Howell's 'Lamia' live. Glad you enjoyed the Alwyn VC. I think that it was rejected by the likes of Rubbra on the BBC listening panel which, much as I admire Rubbra's own music, really annoys me as I think that the Alwyn is one of the great British violin concertos.
"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 Maestro267

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1728
  • Location: Wales
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #453 on: September 12, 2019, 07:51:12 AM »
Picked up a Lyrita twofer with Symphonies 1-4 and a couple of other shorter works by Peter Racine Fricker. I'm all for obscure 20th-century British symphonies, and this label is a goldmine for them.

Offline Maestro267

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1728
  • Location: Wales
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #454 on: October 03, 2019, 09:14:20 AM »
Further acquisitions which should hopefully be here tomorrow: Fricker's Symphony No. 5 and his oratorio The Vision of Judgment, and the 4-disc British Piano Concertos set.

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #455 on: October 03, 2019, 10:41:26 PM »
Further acquisitions which should hopefully be here tomorrow: Fricker's Symphony No. 5 and his oratorio The Vision of Judgment, and the 4-disc British Piano Concertos set.
The Vision of Judgment is marvellous and very moving at the end - his masterpiece I think, although I life the first two symphonies in particular.
"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 Maestro267

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1728
  • Location: Wales
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #456 on: October 07, 2019, 08:40:09 AM »
Working my way through the British Piano Concertos box. Goodness me, there are some stunning works here! I'm listening right now to Alan Rawsthorne's Piano Concerto No. 1. The central Chaconne is extraordinary! My other favourites so far are John Foulds' Dynamic Triptych and Malcolm Williamson's PC3. I thought he was Australian, but it's in this box so it's fair game.

I also really enjoyed the Stanford PC2. I've had his PC1 for a good number of years now, but I've rarely listened to it for some reason. I should fix that now that I've got the Second.

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #457 on: October 07, 2019, 01:02:27 PM »
Working my way through the British Piano Concertos box. Goodness me, there are some stunning works here! I'm listening right now to Alan Rawsthorne's Piano Concerto No. 1. The central Chaconne is extraordinary! My other favourites so far are John Foulds' Dynamic Triptych and Malcolm Williamson's PC3. I thought he was Australian, but it's in this box so it's fair game.

I also really enjoyed the Stanford PC2. I've had his PC1 for a good number of years now, but I've rarely listened to it for some reason. I should fix that now that I've got the Second.
Williamson was Australian but lived in England for many years and became a (not very successful) 'Master of the Queen's Musik'. Personally I rate Williamson very highly. I think that Rawsthorne's Second Piano Concerto is even greater than No.1. The Foulds is a marvellous work. I like VW's craggy piano concerto as well.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 08:21:04 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).

Offline Roasted Swan

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 582
  • Location: UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #458 on: October 08, 2019, 06:05:08 AM »
Williamson was Australian but lived in England for many years and became a (not very successful) 'Master of the Queen's Musick'. Personally I rate Williamson very highly. I think that Rawsthorne's Second Piano Concerto is even greater than No.1. The Foulds is a marvellous work. I like VW's craggy piano concerto as well.

I think the problem for Williamson as Master of the Queen's Musik was two-fold.  First his musical style temperament was not really suited to the role and its musical demands (exactly the same issue Bax had) and he was following on someone - Arthur Bliss - who could turn out a good fanfare or ceremonial welcome ode in his sleep.  Secondly, by the time in his career/life he got the role he was fighting other non-musical demons that meant writing to order/a specific date of performance was literally beyond him.

Back in 1977 he was commissioned by the Liverpool Education Authority to produce the music for an extended tableaux stretching the length of Hope Street in Liverpool (which happens to link the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals) for a visit by the Queen for her Jubilee.  Sadly he couldn't complete the music in time (it was called The Valley and the Hill) and had to be finished by one of the senior music staff in Liverpool - a great teacher and conductor of young musicians in Liverpool at the time called Michael Bush.  Back then I was part of the Liverpool Schools Symphony Orchestra that played it.......

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14926
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #459 on: October 08, 2019, 08:27:52 AM »
I think the problem for Williamson as Master of the Queen's Musik was two-fold.  First his musical style temperament was not really suited to the role and its musical demands (exactly the same issue Bax had) and he was following on someone - Arthur Bliss - who could turn out a good fanfare or ceremonial welcome ode in his sleep.  Secondly, by the time in his career/life he got the role he was fighting other non-musical demons that meant writing to order/a specific date of performance was literally beyond him.

Back in 1977 he was commissioned by the Liverpool Education Authority to produce the music for an extended tableaux stretching the length of Hope Street in Liverpool (which happens to link the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals) for a visit by the Queen for her Jubilee.  Sadly he couldn't complete the music in time (it was called The Valley and the Hill) and had to be finished by one of the senior music staff in Liverpool - a great teacher and conductor of young musicians in Liverpool at the time called Michael Bush.  Back then I was part of the Liverpool Schools Symphony Orchestra that played it.......

Interesting. I recall attending what was supposed to be a premiere of one of his symphonies (possibly No.4) and it was performed incomplete as Williamson hadn't finished it. I may have got that wrong but that is my memory. There is an interesting biography 'A Mischievous Muse' about Williamson. There was a whole saga about his unfinished (or hardly started) score to the original (and much better) film of 'Watership Down'.
"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).