Author Topic: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)  (Read 3553 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« on: September 27, 2008, 09:18:30 AM »
Sainton died forgotten in 1967; his last years marred by illness and a dispute with Charlie Chaplin over the music for 'A King in New York'
He didn't seem to compose much and evidently was frustrated in his composing ambitions. He was principal violist with the BBC SO. And yet his 'Nadir' of 1949 is a great work, written in response to witnessing the death of a child in a war time bombing raid on Bristol. It is one of the most moving scores I know, especially in the way that despair turns to defiance (something that I always look for in music). Towards the end the "V for victory" chords from Beethoven's 5th Symphony thunder out as they do at the end of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony and Martinu's 'Memorial to Lidice'.

His 'The Island' on the same double CD is a fine tone-poem and there is a memorable Marco Polo CD of his wonderful score for the film 'Moby Dick'.

The Chandos CD include's Patrick Hadley's masterpiece 'The Trees so High'; a great double album:

« Last Edit: September 27, 2008, 09:20:48 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 drogulus

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2008, 01:10:20 PM »

      One of his greatest achievements was the score for John Huston's film Moby Dick, which was lost and had to be recreated (I guess that's the word) by ear. I rate this among the best orchestral scores ever done for films. I don't know how well it holds up without the film, though.


     
« Last Edit: September 27, 2008, 01:26:19 PM by drogulus »
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2008, 01:21:34 PM »
I do so agree about Sainton and, especially 'Nadir'.

The works Jeffrey mentions are well worth hearing. They also remind me of the fine contribution made to the cause of British music for a short time by Mathias Bamert. Chandos used him for its Parry and Roberto Gerhard series, for several discs of music by Frank Martin and for the Sainton and Hadley. He seems to have largely disappeared from the recording studio in recent years which is a real shame considering the splendid performances of the music of these composers.

We could do with some more Hadley too...the Cantatas 'Connemara' and "Fen and Flood' would probably appeal to most Baxians and Delians :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2008, 10:17:22 PM »
Thanks Drogulus and Colin,

I think that the Moby Dick music stands up very well without the film. Very atmospheric sea music. It is probably my favourite in that Marco Polo film music series (along with the Vaughan Williams film music CD and Waxman's Rebecca). Good point Colin about Mathias Bamert. His Parry and Frank Martin series was excellent.
"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

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2020, 09:31:56 PM »
I have been listening to the tone poem 'Nadir' a fine, defiant and moving work which Sainton composed after witnessing the death of a child during a bombing raid on Bristol during World War Two. Twelve year bump-up for this thread. I strongly recommend 'Nadir' and the Baxian tone poem 'The Island' and his marvellous film score for 'Moby Dick'. I found some interesting material about him on the Musicweb site:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/sainton/index.htm#review

Nadir:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jirM8hWkkdA

This is one of my favourite CDs (actually two CDs) because it also features Patrick Hadley's masterpiece 'The Trees so High' which should appeal to admirers of Finzi, Butterworth or Vaughan Williams:
« Last Edit: April 13, 2020, 09:39:52 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).

Offline Irons

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2020, 11:00:26 PM »
I have been listening to the tone poem 'Nadir' a fine, defiant and moving work which Sainton composed after witnessing the death of a child during a bombing raid on Bristol during World War Two. Twelve year bump-up for this thread. I strongly recommend 'Nadir' and the Baxian tone poem 'The Island' and his marvellous film score for 'Moby Dick'. I found some interesting material about him on the Musicweb site:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/sainton/index.htm#review

Nadir:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jirM8hWkkdA

This is one of my favourite CDs (actually two CDs) because it also features Patrick Hadley's masterpiece 'The Trees so High' which should appeal to admirers of Finzi, Butterworth or Vaughan Williams:


Looking up both composers in my "bible" of British music, Frank Howes "The English Musical Renaissance" Sainton does not receive a mention, sadly. Howes does however write quite extensively on Hadley and I think he has some interesting things to say regarding "The Trees So High".

So, too, in a more formal way is The Trees So High a choral symphony, though more in the shape of Mendelssohn's Lobgesang, consisting as it does of three instrumental movements, "three independent brooks" (though thematically related in their derivation from the tune of the ballad) "which flow into one stream in the last movement" where soloist and chorus sing the actual ballad, which is mainly that of Sharp's version. These uses of symphonic form in vocal composition are the most original feature of Hadley's work, and by them he overcomes the well known recalcitrance of folk-song and symphony to each other.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2020, 12:00:46 AM »
Looking up both composers in my "bible" of British music, Frank Howes "The English Musical Renaissance" Sainton does not receive a mention, sadly. Howes does however write quite extensively on Hadley and I think he has some interesting things to say regarding "The Trees So High".

So, too, in a more formal way is The Trees So High a choral symphony, though more in the shape of Mendelssohn's Lobgesang, consisting as it does of three instrumental movements, "three independent brooks" (though thematically related in their derivation from the tune of the ballad) "which flow into one stream in the last movement" where soloist and chorus sing the actual ballad, which is mainly that of Sharp's version. These uses of symphonic form in vocal composition are the most original feature of Hadley's work, and by them he overcomes the well known recalcitrance of folk-song and symphony to each other.
Very interesting indeed Lol about 'The Trees So High' and thanks for posting it. I thought this thread would probably immediately disappear for another twelve years! There's something of 'A Shropshire Lad' by George Butterworth about 'The Trees So High' which is very poignant. I've seen the work described as like 'Vaughan Williams with water' but this is unfair as VW's choral music, for all its great beauty, is more objective and, in my opinion does not have the deeply personal resonances of Hadley's great score. Sad that Sainton gets no mention in the Howes book.
"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

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2020, 05:37:37 AM »
Very interesting indeed Lol about 'The Trees So High' and thanks for posting it. I thought this thread would probably immediately disappear for another twelve years! There's something of 'A Shropshire Lad' by George Butterworth about 'The Trees So High' which is very poignant. I've seen the work described as like 'Vaughan Williams with water' but this is unfair as VW's choral music, for all its great beauty, is more objective and, in my opinion does not have the deeply personal resonances of Hadley's great score. Sad that Sainton gets no mention in the Howes book.

You make a very good point Jeffrey and full marks for thinking outside the box. So easy (and lazy) to say Hadley is Vaughan Williams mark two. You are right, Butterworth is much closer in feeling and idiom.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2020, 10:30:28 AM »
Just heard Nadir as Jeffrey suggested. Oh, awesome! Raw and epic in a sort of way. The piece conveys sorrow and destruction, and there is a Baxian touch along the notes. Some impressive climaxes appear too. A tremendous work. Thanks, Jeffrey, for recommending this great piece.
Give us something else; give us something new; for Heaven's sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!

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Offline Albion

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2020, 03:50:54 PM »
This double-cd set is indeed a great release from the glory days of Chandos, when Matthias Bamert, Vernon Handley and Richard Hickox regularly recorded neglected British music. Seek it out!

 :)
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2020, 05:06:33 AM »
Just heard Nadir as Jeffrey suggested. Oh, awesome! Raw and epic in a sort of way. The piece conveys sorrow and destruction, and there is a Baxian touch along the notes. Some impressive climaxes appear too. A tremendous work. Thanks, Jeffrey, for recommending this great piece.
Thanks for listening to it Cesar and I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. It's one of the great 'despair into defiance' works IMO. Sainton was interested in astrology and apparently a 'nadir' is a low point in an astrological transit. A fortune-teller once told him that he was doomed to a life of frustrations (I can relate to that  :)). Sainton felt that he had a symphony inside him but financial problems and other commitments meant that he sadly never wrote one. However, he did write an epic score for Huston's 'Moby Dick' which maybe is Sainton's 'Symphony'. At the end of 'Nadir' I find it incredibly moving when the orchestra defiantly hammers out the 'V for Victory' morse code motto theme derived from the opening of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. One of the great moments in music in my opinion.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 05:30:20 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

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2020, 05:09:39 AM »
This double-cd set is indeed a great release from the glory days of Chandos, when Matthias Bamert, Vernon Handley and Richard Hickox regularly recorded neglected British music. Seek it out!

 :)
Absolutely! I couldn't agree more.
The combination of 'Nadir', 'The Island' and Patrick Hadley's beautiful and poignant 'The Trees So High' is irresistible in my view.
I'm currently enjoying Sainton's rather charming and atmospheric 'The Dream of the Marionette'.
This thread is receiving an unexpected amount of traffic!
 :)

I was pleased when Moby Dick (originally on Marco Polo) was reissued by Naxos:
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 05:16:29 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 Cato

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2020, 05:28:14 AM »
Absolutely! I couldn't agree more.
The combination of 'Nadir', 'The Island' and Patrick Hadley's beautiful and poignant 'The Trees So High' is irresistible in my view.
I'm currently enjoying Sainton's rather charming and atmospheric 'The Dream of the Marionette'.
This thread is receiving an unexpected amount of traffic!
 :)

I was pleased when Moby Dick (originally on Marco Polo) was reissued by Naxos:



Excellent music on an excellent CD!

If you do not know the movie, it is a classic:

Richard Basehart as Ishmael, German actor Friedrich von Ledebur as Queeg-Queeg, and great character actor Royal Dano as Elijah: of interest is how Sainton's music so perfectly underscores the eerie menace in the scene, as the Ishmael character attempts to dismiss the prophecy with increasing unease.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/o5r3g5zhKIM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/o5r3g5zhKIM</a>

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2020, 05:56:16 AM »
Excellent music on an excellent CD!

If you do not know the movie, it is a classic:

Richard Basehart as Ishmael, German actor Friedrich von Ledebur as Queeg-Queeg, and great character actor Royal Dano as Elijah: of interest is how Sainton's music so perfectly underscores the eerie menace in the scene, as the Ishmael character attempts to dismiss the prophecy with increasing unease.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/o5r3g5zhKIM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/o5r3g5zhKIM</a>

Thanks Leo,
I have the film on DVD but not sure I've ever watched it but must do so soon.

I found some soundtrack excerpts on You Tube although of course the quality of the recording is nothing like the Marco Polo and Naxos discs:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbVPYp27Dwk

Moby Dick rates IMO with Waxman's 'Rebecca' and Auric's 'La Belle et La Bête' as the greatest of that series of Marco Polo film scores.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 06:03:07 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).

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2020, 08:19:17 AM »
Thanks Leo,
I have the film on DVD but not sure I've ever watched it but must do so soon.

If you can find it (they press only limited runs) Twilight Time has Moby Dick remastered on
blu-ray, and both the visual color palette and soundtrack benefit enormously.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2020, 11:21:14 AM »
Here's a page of an autograph book I have of BBC Symphony Orchestra principals from the early 1940's.  Top left is Philip Sainton - a rather small modest signature.  But look at the company he is keeping; Ernest Hall, Sidonie Goossens, Aubrey Brain, Paul Beard, Marie Wilson, Frederick Thurston to name but a few- what a list!

I don't know how to upload a viewable image from my own PC so here is a link to a googledrive file;

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1e-8_mmAqPOnEskmQaWaTio6HEt3hLioL






Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2020, 12:34:51 PM »
Thanks for listening to it Cesar and I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. It's one of the great 'despair into defiance' works IMO. Sainton was interested in astrology and apparently a 'nadir' is a low point in an astrological transit. A fortune-teller once told him that he was doomed to a life of frustrations (I can relate to that  :)). Sainton felt that he had a symphony inside him but financial problems and other commitments meant that he sadly never wrote one. However, he did write an epic score for Huston's 'Moby Dick' which maybe is Sainton's 'Symphony'. At the end of 'Nadir' I find it incredibly moving when the orchestra defiantly hammers out the 'V for Victory' morse code motto theme derived from the opening of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. One of the great moments in music in my opinion.

Now, that was quite interesting to read, Jeffrey, and that moment about Beethoven went unnoticed to me. I'll have to listen to it again. I guess Moby Dick will be my next work to explore.
Give us something else; give us something new; for Heaven's sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!

Carl Nielsen

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2020, 12:43:50 PM »
If you can find it (they press only limited runs) Twilight Time has Moby Dick remastered on
blu-ray, and both the visual color palette and soundtrack benefit enormously.
Thanks Karl, however I'd need to get a blu-ray player first.
"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

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2020, 12:45:28 PM »
Here's a page of an autograph book I have of BBC Symphony Orchestra principals from the early 1940's.  Top left is Philip Sainton - a rather small modest signature.  But look at the company he is keeping; Ernest Hall, Sidonie Goossens, Aubrey Brain, Paul Beard, Marie Wilson, Frederick Thurston to name but a few- what a list!

I don't know how to upload a viewable image from my own PC so here is a link to a googledrive file;

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1e-8_mmAqPOnEskmQaWaTio6HEt3hLioL

How interesting! Thanks so much for posting this RS.
"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

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Re: Philip Sainton (1891-1967)
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2020, 12:47:06 PM »
Now, that was quite interesting to read, Jeffrey, and that moment about Beethoven went unnoticed to me. I'll have to listen to it again. I guess Moby Dick will be my next work to explore.
Excellent Cesar. It has some great sea music in it and I enjoy listening to the Moby Dick score right through.
"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).