Author Topic: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003  (Read 10789 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2011, 10:31:11 PM »
On my long car journey to work I have been listening to the Lyrita CD below. I have always liked 'Elevamini' (Williamson's First Symphony) - but the great recent discovery for me is the 'Sinfonia Concertante' which started out as Williamson's Second Symphony. It has a hauntingly beautiful slow movement, which I keep playing on its own - although I like the work generally (it reminds me a bit of Bernstein's 'Age of Anxiety') - but do look out for the slow movement. As for Elevamini, I think that the Groves performance has a greater urgency than the (very good) Ruman Gamba recording on Chandos. I am enjoying re-discovering the music of Malcolm Williamson - an underrated figure in my view.

« Last Edit: October 15, 2011, 12:55:52 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 Dundonnell

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2011, 04:34:34 AM »
Another of Chandos's aborted Series :(

Can you have a Series of only 2 Volumes?

There are still four Williamson Symphonies waiting to be discovered on disc: Nos. 2(1968), 3 "The Icy Mirror"(1972), No.4(1977) and never performed and the huge No.6(1982) written for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. There is also, of course, the massive Mass of Christ the King(1978).

Apparently his music is never played in Australia...the usual fate of the emigre.....and I fear that the Chandos attempt was his final chance :(

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2011, 08:10:11 AM »
Another of Chandos's aborted Series :(

Can you have a Series of only 2 Volumes?

There are still four Williamson Symphonies waiting to be discovered on disc: Nos. 2(1968), 3 "The Icy Mirror"(1972), No.4(1977) and never performed and the huge No.6(1982) written for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. There is also, of course, the massive Mass of Christ the King(1978).

Apparently his music is never played in Australia...the usual fate of the emigre.....and I fear that the Chandos attempt was his final chance :(

Thanks Colin   :)  I know that I can invariably rely on you to respond! I have just ordered the newish biography of Williamson out the library (again!) I have increasing respect for him.
"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: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2013, 02:29:00 AM »
Recently I watched the animated film 'Watership Down' on DVD. A rather dark film which I like very much. Williamson wrote the music for the Prologue, but as with much else in his latter years he never completed the score (causing great trouble for the producer who had booked the orchestra to perform a non-existent score). At the last minute Angela Morley stepped in to complete a very fine and atmospheric score (which also includes Mike Batt's 'Bright Eyes' sung by Art Garfunkel). So, 'Watership Down' actually features the music of three composers. On my copy of the DVD the extras feature the producer talking about these issues. Still, I like Williamson's main theme very much.

« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 03:43:38 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 Est.1965

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2013, 02:39:14 AM »
Recently I watched the animated film 'Watership Down' on DVD. A rather dark film which I like very much. Williamson wrote the music for the Prologue, but as with much else in his latter years he never completed the score (causing great trouble for the producer who had booked the oechestra to perform a non-existent score). At the last minute Angela Morley stepped in to complete a very fine and atmospheric score (which also includes Mike Batt's 'Bright Eyes' sung by Art Garfunkel). So, 'Watership Down' actually features the music of three composers. On my copy of the DVD the extras feature the producer talking about these issues. Still, I like Williamson's main theme very much.



I love that movie too, and will have a wee look around for the Soundtrack.  The book is TOP reading, brilliantly crafted.  Bigwig is my Watership hero.   :D
Dear Hans Rott
In the 1980s there was a creative punk group called "Big Audio Dynamite".  I have decided to apply the term to you, my man.  And I still haven't properly finished your Screenplay yet.  Too bad.  Take care anyway old chum, I'm off to listen to Brahms!
Kind regards, John

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2013, 03:48:24 AM »
I love that movie too, and will have a wee look around for the Soundtrack.  The book is TOP reading, brilliantly crafted.  Bigwig is my Watership hero.   :D

Hi John  :)

The soundtrack is now ridiculously expensive on Amazon.  I just bought the book for my wife to read (it will distract her from the growing number of CDs in the house  >:D) Yes, Bigwig is a great character, although I like Kehaar in the film and have rather a soft spot for 'The General' brilliantly played by Harry Andrews in the film.
"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: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2013, 03:51:57 AM »
Recently I watched the animated film 'Watership Down' on DVD. A rather dark film which I like very much. Williamson wrote the music for the Prologue, but as with much else in his latter years he never completed the score (causing great trouble for the producer who had booked the orchestra to perform a non-existent score). At the last minute Angela Morley stepped in to complete a very fine and atmospheric score (which also includes Mike Batt's 'Bright Eyes' sung by Art Garfunkel). So, 'Watership Down' actually features the music of three composers. On my copy of the DVD the extras feature the producer talking about these issues. Still, I like Williamson's main theme very much.

Never saw the film, but used to have an LP with the music in the early 1980s, probably at its release. So I clearly recall the music and only now realize that Williamson is also in it (had only Morley in mind). Great to be reminded of these 'fond memories'.  ;)
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2013, 06:01:06 AM »
Never saw the film, but used to have an LP with the music in the early 1980s, probably at its release. So I clearly recall the music and only now realize that Williamson is also in it (had only Morley in mind). Great to be reminded of these 'fond memories'.  ;)

Angela Morley (AKA Wally Stott) wrote the music for 'Hancock's Half Hour' radio and tv comedy of the 1950s and early 60s. There is a nice CD of her film and tv music on Dutton including four items from Watership Down (but not the Williamson title music of course). That Watership Down soundtrack was a very fine, atmospheric and memorable LP/CD. Apparently after it bacame clear that MW had hardly written any music for the film Morley completed, what may well be her finest work in a period of two weeks!  :)
"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 lescamil

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #28 on: March 09, 2014, 10:21:17 PM »
Bumping this old thread. I recently got an LP with Williamson's Piano Concerto No. 2, Epitaphs for Edith Sitwell, and Double Piano Concerto. Wow, what a set of works by this varied composer. The piano concerto no. 2 is perhaps his best work in his light idiom and the other two show off his serious side quite effectively. The Concerto for Two Pianos is a work very rich with ideas. Reminds me of Messiaen would sound like if he were a British neoclassicist. I haven't been this excited digging up an old LP in a long time. I ripped it and have listened to it on the go for a few days and haven't gotten sick of it yet.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2015, 05:26:00 AM »
Time to put in a plug for Malcolm Williamson's Organ Cocerto. In my youth I saw it live at the 1977 London Proms with the 88 year old Sir Adrian Boult conducting and the composer playing the organ . Boult is the dedicatee and there is use made in the concerto of Boult's initials 'A,C,B'. It is a craggy, dissonant work with great moments of tonal lyricism, especially towards the end and in the eloquent slow movement. The critics at the time either found it too dissonant or insufficiently radical. I think that it is one of Williamson's finest works:

"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 Scion7

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #30 on: September 01, 2016, 04:35:47 AM »
Blasting out this morning with this one.

WILLIAMSON-Menuhin, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Boult
Adagio e sostenuto-Vivace-Adagio molto
1964

Malcolm Williamson's Violin Concerto was commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin for the Bath Festival in 1964. Dedicated to the memory of Edith Sitwell, who died during the composition of the work, the concerto consists of two grieving slow encasing a central scherzo whose satirical bite suggests a portrait of the dedicatee. The concerto was first performed by Yehudi Menuhin and the Bath Festival Orchestra in the Assembly Rooms, Bath on 15th June 1965.
The opening movement, Adagio e sostenuto, begins with the imposing and tragic first subject (a descending scale over an undulating accompaniment). The solo violin rises out of the violin section to perform an extended solo passage. This is the concerto's sole cadenza and it leads directly to the second subject, an uneasy lament in 10/4 time. If the first subject is a public declaration of mourning, the second subject has the intimacy of private grieving. It is a haunting, nostalgic theme, slightly sentimental - like a Victorian ballad such as Edith Sitwell would have heard in her youth. The development section pits the sorrowing solo violin against the full-throated sobbing of the tutti orchestra whilst the recapitulation of the much transformed first subject features severe technical tests for the soloist with its double and treble stopping passages over harp and string accompaniment. The second subject returns largo tranquillo, transformed into a gentle requiem for a bygone era. It brings the movement to a hushed close with the musical argument unresolved.
The central Vivace is an acerbic scherzo - music of the night and second cousin to the central spectral Scherzo of Mahler's Seventh Symphony. Fleeting as a nightmare, its gawky, martial main theme is occasionally interrupted by a rich, soaring melody which again seems parodic in intent. A direct tribute to the irony and brilliance of Edith Sitwell's verse, the world of Façade is not far away (Walton himself is said to have admired this concerto). The Presto coda brings the movement to a spiky, spirited conclusion.
The Adagio molto Finale is a slow threnody, elegiac in character. A tender and poignant melody for solo violin ascends to celestial heights over a throbbing, kaleidoscopic orchestral accompaniment. Three tutti hammer blows of Fate divest the work of its remaining energy and the concerto ends in dignified resignation, accepting the loss it has previously railed against. As the soloist soars away, fading to a triple piano conclusion, the inevitability of the passing of life is memorably and unsentimentally caught in these final bars.
  ~ MusicWeb

Your barricades lie broken ... your enemies lord.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #31 on: September 01, 2016, 10:24:27 AM »
Blasting out this morning with this one.

WILLIAMSON-Menuhin, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Boult
Adagio e sostenuto-Vivace-Adagio molto
1964

Malcolm Williamson's Violin Concerto was commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin for the Bath Festival in 1964. Dedicated to the memory of Edith Sitwell, who died during the composition of the work, the concerto consists of two grieving slow encasing a central scherzo whose satirical bite suggests a portrait of the dedicatee. The concerto was first performed by Yehudi Menuhin and the Bath Festival Orchestra in the Assembly Rooms, Bath on 15th June 1965.
The opening movement, Adagio e sostenuto, begins with the imposing and tragic first subject (a descending scale over an undulating accompaniment). The solo violin rises out of the violin section to perform an extended solo passage. This is the concerto's sole cadenza and it leads directly to the second subject, an uneasy lament in 10/4 time. If the first subject is a public declaration of mourning, the second subject has the intimacy of private grieving. It is a haunting, nostalgic theme, slightly sentimental - like a Victorian ballad such as Edith Sitwell would have heard in her youth. The development section pits the sorrowing solo violin against the full-throated sobbing of the tutti orchestra whilst the recapitulation of the much transformed first subject features severe technical tests for the soloist with its double and treble stopping passages over harp and string accompaniment. The second subject returns largo tranquillo, transformed into a gentle requiem for a bygone era. It brings the movement to a hushed close with the musical argument unresolved.
The central Vivace is an acerbic scherzo - music of the night and second cousin to the central spectral Scherzo of Mahler's Seventh Symphony. Fleeting as a nightmare, its gawky, martial main theme is occasionally interrupted by a rich, soaring melody which again seems parodic in intent. A direct tribute to the irony and brilliance of Edith Sitwell's verse, the world of Façade is not far away (Walton himself is said to have admired this concerto). The Presto coda brings the movement to a spiky, spirited conclusion.
The Adagio molto Finale is a slow threnody, elegiac in character. A tender and poignant melody for solo violin ascends to celestial heights over a throbbing, kaleidoscopic orchestral accompaniment. Three tutti hammer blows of Fate divest the work of its remaining energy and the concerto ends in dignified resignation, accepting the loss it has previously railed against. As the soloist soars away, fading to a triple piano conclusion, the inevitability of the passing of life is memorably and unsentimentally caught in these final bars.
  ~ MusicWeb


Seeing these LPs is a great nostalgia trip for me - thanks so much for posting them  :). The double LP with the First Symphony 'Elevamini' was a revelation to me. I bought it at a great old record shop, Farringdon's in Cheapside London in the 70s or early 80s. The other one with the magnificent Violin Concerto on (it has a deeply moving last movement) I took out of the Record Library at the Commonwealth Institute in London which was near to my childhood home. The had a small selection of LPs by Commonwealth composers. It was from there that I first discovered the music of the New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn whose first two symphonies are amongst my favourites. The Williamson LP also featured a great cover of David Wynne's (I think) portrait sculpture of Yehudi Menuhin, a copy of which was then on display at the Festival Hall in London. Sculpture was and is an interest of mine so the LP combined my love of music and sculpture. Excuse the nostalgia trip but Elevamini and the Violin Concerto are well worth looking out for.
"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: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #32 on: October 03, 2016, 01:47:18 AM »
This is a super release (IMHO). I like all three works but the discovery was Malcolm Williamson's Piano Concerto 2. It is only 16 minutes long but as is often the case with Williamson contains a deeply moving and searching slow movement. Doreen Carwithen was the wife of William Alwyn and her music has a warm-hearted appeal. I have pestered Somm to issue Jacob's Concerto for Two Pianos (three hands) which is my favourite of his works.


I see that lescamil above also notes the fineness of Williamson's Piano Concerto 2.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2016, 01:54:15 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 Scion7

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2016, 06:43:59 PM »
How did they respond to yer pesterin' ?

 >:D
Your barricades lie broken ... your enemies lord.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Malcolm Williamson 'A Mischievous Muse' 1931-2003
« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2016, 03:47:01 AM »
How did they respond to yer pesterin' ?

 >:D

Positively. The big boss at Somm is going to talk to 'Mark' (the pianist) about it and try to raise funds. Cyril Smith (not the disgraced Liberal MP) who recorded the only version of Jacob's double piano concerto (not released on CD) was her teacher which made her especially interested in the project.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2016, 03:55:23 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).