Author Topic: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)  (Read 6716 times)

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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2022, 10:54:56 PM »
The problem here is one that all record label and chamber musicians (especially) tussle with.  The simple fact is there is very little money or indeed qudos to be made in recording this type of music.  I know that Mike Dutton at Dutton has all but stopped recording any chamber music not because of quality but simply because the sales do not merit the cost and time they take.  For the players, to prepare an hour's worth of unknown music takes a lot of private and group practice and rehearsal.  And the reality is that almost no local chamber music societies will then be breaking down your door to ask you to repeat your recording of a McEwen String Quartet.  You might offer them a nice little attractive McEwen Quartet as a small part of a much larger programme and they'll ask if you can do "The American" or "Death and the Maiden" instead!  You can probably do this if just a couple of discs are involved but to commit (as a quartet) to learning all 17 of the McEwen Quartets is a huge chunk of your time booked out on music that is niche in the truest sense of the word.  If it were me - I'd love to play them - but I need to pay my bills too.

Frankly I'm pretty amazed we got 10 of the 17 quartets.  I don't know all of the unrecorded ones too (locating performing materials is another issue.....!) but a couple are more like "suites" rather than the standard serious string quartet.  This chimes with the popularity of a sub-genre within string quartets that is all but lost/forgotten today.  Think the Glazunov Suite for Quartet or the Bridge Idylls (There is a rather wonderful Peter Pan Suite for String Quartet by Walford Davies but that is another story).  These are collections of "character" studies which can be absolutely delightful.   One of the McEwen Quartets is "A Suite of Old National Dances" [No.12] and another is "Nugae" which is officially String Quartet No.5.  This is subtitled "Bagatelles" and is a series of 7 movmements with slightly diminutive titles such as "March of the Little Folk" / "Lament" but its rather good.

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2022, 10:10:27 AM »
The problem here is one that all record label and chamber musicians (especially) tussle with.  The simple fact is there is very little money or indeed qudos to be made in recording this type of music.  I know that Mike Dutton at Dutton has all but stopped recording any chamber music not because of quality but simply because the sales do not merit the cost and time they take.  For the players, to prepare an hour's worth of unknown music takes a lot of private and group practice and rehearsal.  And the reality is that almost no local chamber music societies will then be breaking down your door to ask you to repeat your recording of a McEwen String Quartet.  You might offer them a nice little attractive McEwen Quartet as a small part of a much larger programme and they'll ask if you can do "The American" or "Death and the Maiden" instead!  You can probably do this if just a couple of discs are involved but to commit (as a quartet) to learning all 17 of the McEwen Quartets is a huge chunk of your time booked out on music that is niche in the truest sense of the word.  If it were me - I'd love to play them - but I need to pay my bills too.

Frankly I'm pretty amazed we got 10 of the 17 quartets.  I don't know all of the unrecorded ones too (locating performing materials is another issue.....!) but a couple are more like "suites" rather than the standard serious string quartet.  This chimes with the popularity of a sub-genre within string quartets that is all but lost/forgotten today.  Think the Glazunov Suite for Quartet or the Bridge Idylls (There is a rather wonderful Peter Pan Suite for String Quartet by Walford Davies but that is another story).  These are collections of "character" studies which can be absolutely delightful.   One of the McEwen Quartets is "A Suite of Old National Dances" [No.12] and another is "Nugae" which is officially String Quartet No.5.  This is subtitled "Bagatelles" and is a series of 7 movmements with slightly diminutive titles such as "March of the Little Folk" / "Lament" but its rather good.

Record labels like CPO could embrace the project since that company has recorded lots and lots of obscure chamber repertoire (or Capriccio too). Their instalment of British string music is an instance (granted, it's not properly chamber repertoire, but it's less-known stuff).

I keep my fingers crossed even if there are no clues about recording them soon.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2022, 11:29:59 AM »
Record labels like CPO could embrace the project since that company has recorded lots and lots of obscure chamber repertoire (or Capriccio too). Their instalment of British string music is an instance (granted, it's not properly chamber repertoire, but it's less-known stuff).

I keep my fingers crossed even if there are no clues about recording them soon.

Absolutely - I have no idea what financial model allows CPO to record so much VERY obscure music so well.  I can't imagine the disc sales cover the production costs.  I can oly think that the German orchestras have some "inclusive sessions" built into their contracts which allows companies to record this material at a fraction of the usual session fees.

Online Biffo

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2022, 12:37:25 AM »
Chandos themselves were known for obscure music one time. The very recordings of the quartets they did release proves that. Another label once again lost to the endless swarm of Mainstream and the Big Money.

I got two volumes of this set recently and the recent posts have inspired me to listen to the "Biscay" Quartet for the first time. Really enjoying it. I also have two of the orchestral works discs, the Solway Symphony and three tone poems.

I don't think that is a very fair description of Chandos - I doubt they make Big Money from any of their recordings, Their latest releases have works by Dora Pejacevic, Coleridge-Taylor, John Ireland, Dutilleux and Weinberg.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2022, 12:58:20 AM »
Chandos themselves were known for obscure music one time. The very recordings of the quartets they did release proves that. Another label once again lost to the endless swarm of Mainstream and the Big Money.

I got two volumes of this set recently and the recent posts have inspired me to listen to the "Biscay" Quartet for the first time. Really enjoying it. I also have two of the orchestral works discs, the Solway Symphony and three tone poems.

Clearly Chandos are NOT "Mainstream and the Big Money".  No-one operating in the CM field is making big money unless they are releasing cross-over material which patently Chandos never has.  I would guess that the sales of the McEwen quartets simply did not merit the work and time and commitment required to complete the cycle.  Perhaps the quartet did not consider the remaining quartets to be of sufficient musical merit?

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #25 on: May 26, 2022, 08:33:38 PM »
Chandos themselves were known for obscure music one time. The very recordings of the quartets they did release proves that. Another label once again lost to the endless swarm of Mainstream and the Big Money.

I beg you to re-read what you wrote above and actually go look through their catalog of recordings. Chandos have never been about the "big money" or the mainstream. What would be nice is if you or any others who feel similarly to send Chandos a message thanking them. If it wasn't for labels like Chandos, then you wouldn't be able to enjoy a lot of the music that you listen to today and this goes for many labels who have had the courage to record more unknown repertoire. I sent Chandos a message about 10 years ago where I thanked them for their service to classical music. So many of their recordings have given me an endless amount of joy and for that I'm eternally grateful.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 08:35:09 PM by Mirror Image »
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #26 on: May 26, 2022, 08:47:02 PM »
I beg you to re-read what you wrote above and actually go look through their catalog of recordings. Chandos have never been about the "big money" or the mainstream. What would be nice is if you or any others who feel similarly to send Chandos a message thanking them. If it wasn't for labels like Chandos, then you wouldn't be able to enjoy a lot of the music that you listen to today and this goes for many labels who have had the courage to record more unknown repertoire. I sent Chandos a message about 10 years ago where I thanked them for their service to classical music. So many of their recordings have given me an endless amount of joy and for that I'm eternally grateful.
Yes, me too - I can't imagine that they made a lot of money out of Ruth Gipps, Philip Sainton, Patrick Hadley, Hubert Clifford, Bainton or Lyatoshynsky etcetc! (all of whom have given me much pleasure). Their Langgaard symphony 4,5 and 6 CD introduced me to that composer and is one of my favourite CDs ever.
I've asked my daughter for the new John Ireland CD for my b'day. I'm sorry that Chandos never continued with their Malcolm Williamson orchestral series. I've really enjoyed the new Dora Pejacevic Symphony release.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 08:50:42 PM by vandermolen »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir John Blackwood Mcewen (1868-1948)
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2022, 05:24:18 AM »
Yes, me too - I can't imagine that they made a lot of money out of Ruth Gipps, Philip Sainton, Patrick Hadley, Hubert Clifford, Bainton or Lyatoshynsky etcetc! (all of whom have given me much pleasure). Their Langgaard symphony 4,5 and 6 CD introduced me to that composer and is one of my favourite CDs ever.
I've asked my daughter for the new John Ireland CD for my b'day. I'm sorry that Chandos never continued with their Malcolm Williamson orchestral series. I've really enjoyed the new Dora Pejacevic Symphony release.

Yes, indeed.
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók