Author Topic: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)  (Read 22952 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« on: April 30, 2008, 03:50:30 AM »
I am listening to the new Chandos release of Kenneth Leighton's Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings(CHAN 10461). I have to say that it is a supremely impressive composition-grand, powerful and magnificently intense! Scored for the same forces as the great Poulenc Organ Concerto this is a splendid discovery and I would want to recommend it with all possible enthusiasm!! Anyone who has a taste for 20th century British music or-indeed-anyone who likes the Poulenc or organ music in general should take to this work!

The couplings are Leighton's Symphony for Strings-which is more in the received English(British) tradition of music for strings(a la Vaughan Williams or Gerald Finzi-who was a close friend and mentor for the young Leighton)-and the later and equally powerful Concerto for String Orchestra, which used to be available years ago on a Pye LP coupled with John McCabe's Symphony(Elegy), his 1st and a piece which merits reissue(by Lyrita?). The soloist in the Organ Concerto is John Scott, the organist of St. Thomas's Church, Fifth Avenue, New York, and Richard Hickox conducts the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.



Kenneth Leighton was Professor of Music at Edinburgh University(my old university) from 1970 until his untimely death in 1988. A good deal of his choral music is available on disc and Chandos has previously released three of his orchestral works-Symphony No.3 "Laudes Musicae" for tenor and orchestra, the Cello Concerto(Raphael Wallfisch) and the Suite "Veris Gratia" for cello, oboe and strings. The company has already recorded for future release Leighton's Symphony No.2 "Sinfonia Mistica" and his Te Deum.

Leighton was a pupil of Petrassi in Rome and was influenced by both Dallapiccola and Alban Berg as well as Edmund Rubbra, Vaughan Williams and Gerald Finzi. So this is no 'provincial' British composer whose music cannot travel. There is more than an awareness of trends in modern European music but also a clear religious/mystical strain in Leighton's music. His neglect since his death is (as usual) inexplicable.

As I said earlier-this new CD is recommended enthusiastically!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 09:08:07 AM by Dundonnell »

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2008, 09:17:45 AM »
It also occurs to me that the Leighton Organ Concerto is one of very few British Organ Concertos.

I can only think of organ concertos by Sir Malcolm Arnold and Michael Berkeley-which I do know-and by Alun Hoddinott, William Mathias and the Symphony No.5 for organ and orchestra by Peter Racine Fricker-none of which I know.

There are also organ concertos by adopted British composers-Malcolm Williamson(on Lyrita) and Hans Gal. Stanford also wrote a Concert Piece for organ and orchestra(available on Chandos).

http://www.agohq.org/docs/pdf/Organ_Orchestra_List.pdf

-for an excellent list of works for organ and orchestra!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 10:15:35 AM by Dundonnell »

karlhenning

  • Guest
Re: Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2008, 09:37:02 AM »
All I know of Leighton is the odd sacred anthem we've sung at St Paul's;  very nice work, though!

Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12998
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2008, 11:41:55 AM »
In the last year I've heard a handful of Leighton's choral works live, and they are quite imaginative: O Leave Your Sheep, A Christmas Caroll, and just last weekend, Crucifixus pro nobis, Op. 38.  I haven't heard any of his non-vocal work yet, but will be eager to do so based on his choral writing.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2008, 11:47:50 AM »
His Veris Gratia for cello, oboe and strings has long been a favourite of mine and is an amazing work considering his relative immaturity. The Cello concerto is tougher fare, but just as eloquent. There is an absolutely gorgeous miniature called Elegy for cello and piano - while English pastoral elements feature strongly, there is also a pungeant Jazz flavour to the chords throughout (a la Walton), tempered by the mournful cello line. A beautiful work!
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2008, 12:02:07 PM »
Yes, that Elegy is gorgeous, I agree. The one piece of Leighton I really love...

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2008, 01:28:16 PM »
Yes, that Elegy is gorgeous, I agree. The one piece of Leighton I really love...

I guess I agree with that - I have heard quite a lot of the chamber music, piano music and choral works, and while much of it is quite brilliant, I don't yet really love it. Do you know of any good recordings of the Elegy? The one I have takes it a bit slow for my liking - sort of delineates it IMHO. Andrew Fuller is the cellist on a Dutton CD. I play it far more convincingly, obviously!

Apparently there is a version for cello and orchestra - I can imagine that its a treat!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 01:29:52 PM by Guido »
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22319
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2008, 01:39:19 PM »
I have an earlier Chandos CD with Leighton's vocal Third Symphony, which is a beautiful piece. I will look out for the new CD. Thanks for starting this thread Colin.
"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 Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 01:49:06 PM »
I lie - having just listened to it agian I have realised that I love Veris Gratia! Its sincerity and ambitious scope is entirely endearing, even if in the event, it does not quite achieve all he means too. plus the combination of solo instruments is gorgeous and should be repeated more often. Why are there not more oboe trios? (oboe, cello, piano?)
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 02:11:12 PM by Guido »
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 01:53:39 PM »
I have an earlier Chandos CD with Leighton's vocal Third Symphony, which is a beautiful piece. I will look out for the new CD. Thanks for starting this thread Colin.

It's always a pleasure to attempt to share music one has discovered and which makes such an immediate impact! Particularly if the music is by a (relatively) obscure British composer!! :)

I do recall that a friend who was taught by Leighton at Edinburgh University had a very high regard for him both as a man and as a composer. As I remarked Leighton did, sadly, die while still at the height of his powers. The Edinburgh Music Department has a distinguished history. The great music critic Sir Donald Tovey was Professor until 1940. Hans Gal taught in the department for many years. Nigel Osborne and Edward Harper are other esteemed names.

I think that I might repost the link with the extensive list of works for organ and orchestra in a separate thread so that others who might not read this one can pick up on it.

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8946
  • William Havergal Brian, symphonist (1876-1972)
    • JZH Text Services
  • Location: Delft, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bruckner, Brian, Graener, Langgaard, Juon...
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2008, 02:30:16 PM »
I was going to listen to Kenneth Leighton when my eMusic subscription starts next week. Now I am even more motivated. Good thread, Colin!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22319
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2008, 11:21:21 AM »
It's always a pleasure to attempt to share music one has discovered and which makes such an immediate impact! Particularly if the music is by a (relatively) obscure British composer!! :)

I do recall that a friend who was taught by Leighton at Edinburgh University had a very high regard for him both as a man and as a composer. As I remarked Leighton did, sadly, die while still at the height of his powers. The Edinburgh Music Department has a distinguished history. The great music critic Sir Donald Tovey was Professor until 1940. Hans Gal taught in the department for many years. Nigel Osborne and Edward Harper are other esteemed names.

I think that I might repost the link with the extensive list of works for organ and orchestra in a separate thread so that others who might not read this one can pick up on it.

Colin,

What do you think of the Tovey Symphony? (I bet you have this work ;D). I love the slow movement.
"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 Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2008, 04:08:09 PM »
Yes, Jeffrey, I do have the Tovey Symphony, and the Cello Concerto, on CD :) Truth to tell I did find both works a trifle long-winded but I shall give the Symphony another listen, with particular emphasis on the slow movement!

A story for you-

Sir Donald Tovey was Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University from 1914 until his death in 1940. My great uncle-Thomas J. Mackie-was the Professor of Bacteriology at Edinburgh from 1923 and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine until his death in 1955. Tovey and my great uncle were friends. Apparently my great uncle had been seriously ill with a viral infection. To celebrate his recovery Tovey composed a piano piece which attempted to depict musically the struggle between the patient and the virus with which he had been infected and the ultimate triumph over the infection! What the piece was called and where the score is today I cannot tell you. I found the information many years ago in the obituary of my great uncle published by some learned medical society. I suppose that I really ought to do some ferreting around to see if the piece does still exist somewhere!

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22319
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2008, 12:16:55 AM »
Yes, Jeffrey, I do have the Tovey Symphony, and the Cello Concerto, on CD :) Truth to tell I did find both works a trifle long-winded but I shall give the Symphony another listen, with particular emphasis on the slow movement!

A story for you-

Sir Donald Tovey was Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University from 1914 until his death in 1940. My great uncle-Thomas J. Mackie-was the Professor of Bacteriology at Edinburgh from 1923 and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine until his death in 1955. Tovey and my great uncle were friends. Apparently my great uncle had been seriously ill with a viral infection. To celebrate his recovery Tovey composed a piano piece which attempted to depict musically the struggle between the patient and the virus with which he had been infected and the ultimate triumph over the infection! What the piece was called and where the score is today I cannot tell you. I found the information many years ago in the obituary of my great uncle published by some learned medical society. I suppose that I really ought to do some ferreting around to see if the piece does still exist somewhere!

Absolutely fascinating Colin. You must find that score.
"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 Ten thumbs

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1444
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2008, 05:48:38 AM »
I do have a Leighton Piano Sonatina which is quite fun to play.
A day may be a destiny; for life
Lives in but little—but that little teems
With some one chance, the balance of all time:
A look—a word—and we are wholly changed.

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22319
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2008, 01:21:56 AM »
This thread encouraged me to listen to my Chandos CD of Leighton's Third Symphony, "Laudes Musicae" last night. It is a haunting and quite beautiful work. I found it very poignant as Leighton died in his late 50s not that long after composing this work.  It's message of music as a celebration of life, all the more moving in the circumstance.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2008, 01:24:44 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 J.Z. Herrenberg

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8946
  • William Havergal Brian, symphonist (1876-1972)
    • JZH Text Services
  • Location: Delft, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bruckner, Brian, Graener, Langgaard, Juon...
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2008, 01:29:06 AM »
This thread encouraged me to listen to my Chandos CD of Leighton's Third Symphony, "Laudes Musicae" last night. It is a haunting and quite beautiful work. I found it very poignant as Leighton died in his late 50s not that long after composing this work.  It's message of music as a celebration of life, all the more moving in the circumstance.

Ohters you can recommend, Jeffrey? My eMusic subscription has started...
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22319
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2008, 01:33:40 AM »
Ohters you can recommend, Jeffrey? My eMusic subscription has started...

Johan,

I only have this one but have ordered the new Chandos release. A student at my school lent me a very nice CD of Leighton's piano music (Chandos, photo of swan on front cover).
"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).

Harry

  • Guest
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2008, 01:39:57 AM »
Bought this one last year, and was utterly flabbergasted how much I liked it.

Sean

  • Guest
Re: Kenneth Leighton(1929-1988)
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2008, 01:45:07 AM »
I know only the Third symphony and Cello concerto, both of which indicate I think that Leighton's voice is a small one, but in the vein of subtle and very interesting mid century English composers, perhaps variously like Fricker, Bush, Butterworth, Milner, Gilbert, Dickinson, McCabe or Horovitz.

When the Elegy was mentioned below, I must admit I thought you might be talking about the fine Howells piece (for viola, string quartet and string orch).