Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)

Started by Catison, April 09, 2007, 09:54:47 AM

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Albion

Quote from: vandermolen on January 04, 2023, 10:32:05 PMYes, that's my favourite, conducted by Boult. Hickox is good too.

The Hickox cycle on Chandos is excellent and if you get the original releases rather than the re-packaged box of symphonies you get some great couplings: A Tribute, Sinfonia Concertante, Ode to the Queen and The Morning Watch. An indispensable supplement is CHAN 9847 which has the marvellous choral works Song of the Soul, Inscape, Veni creator Spiritus and Natum Maria Virgine...

A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)

relm1

Quote from: Albion on January 05, 2023, 07:53:25 AMThe Hickox cycle on Chandos is excellent and if you get the original releases rather than the re-packaged box of symphonies you get some great couplings: A Tribute, Sinfonia Concertante, Ode to the Queen and The Morning Watch. An indispensable supplement is CHAN 9847 which has the marvellous choral works Song of the Soul, Inscape, Veni creator Spiritus and Natum Maria Virgine...



I haven't heard the Hickox/Chandos but am adoring the Rubbra/lyrita cycle.  Wow, the No. 2/Vernon Handley and 7/Boult was excellent. 

Roasted Swan

Thankyou for the various nudges to revisit Rubbra 7th etc.  The Lyrita discs are typically fine and impressive.  As a slight tangent - a lot of the time Lyrita gets (rightly) praised for the repertoire it recorded but listening to this disc it struck me what important contributions these recordings were to their conductor's discographies too.  Take Boult; Decca and EMI very much focussed on him recording core repertoire so lots of Elgar/Holst/RVW.  All of which are wonderful but would leave a skewed impression of his range and strengths.  If it weren't for Lyrita we'd have no Boult in Bax/Howells/Rubbra/Moeran/Stanford/Bridge/Finzi/Ireland/Holst (non-planets/perfect fool etc).

The same is true of many other conductors (and composers as conductors too) - Lyrita was an important indeed historic record of their work.........

Irons

Quote from: Roasted Swan on January 06, 2023, 06:57:25 AMThankyou for the various nudges to revisit Rubbra 7th etc.  The Lyrita discs are typically fine and impressive.  As a slight tangent - a lot of the time Lyrita gets (rightly) praised for the repertoire it recorded but listening to this disc it struck me what important contributions these recordings were to their conductor's discographies too.  Take Boult; Decca and EMI very much focussed on him recording core repertoire so lots of Elgar/Holst/RVW.  All of which are wonderful but would leave a skewed impression of his range and strengths.  If it weren't for Lyrita we'd have no Boult in Bax/Howells/Rubbra/Moeran/Stanford/Bridge/Finzi/Ireland/Holst (non-planets/perfect fool etc).

The same is true of many other conductors (and composers as conductors too) - Lyrita was an important indeed historic record of their work.........

Being pedantic. Boult did record Howells for a major and of course Perfect Fool for Decca but your premise is correct.



It always surprises me how little RVW on Lyrita. Not recording the symphonies is understandable, although Itter did record both Elgar symphonies, but a wasted opportunity to have a supreme RVW conductor Boult on board and only record Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

I opened the door people rushed through and I was left holding the knob - Bo Diddley.

vandermolen

#224
Quote from: Irons on January 06, 2023, 08:13:29 AMBeing pedantic. Boult did record Howells for a major and of course Perfect Fool for Decca but your premise is correct.



It always surprises me how little RVW on Lyrita. Not recording the symphonies is understandable, although Itter did record both Elgar symphonies, but a wasted opportunity to have a supreme RVW conductor Boult on board and only record Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
They recorded 'The Sons of Light' which is not that good and the Piano Concerto which is great (with Foulds's 'Dynamic Triptych'). I wish that they had recorded Bax's 3rd and 4th symphonies, preferably with Raymond Leppard or Myer Fredman (not with Norman Del Mar).
"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).

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Irons on January 06, 2023, 08:13:29 AMBeing pedantic. Boult did record Howells for a major and of course Perfect Fool for Decca but your premise is correct.



It always surprises me how little RVW on Lyrita. Not recording the symphonies is understandable, although Itter did record both Elgar symphonies, but a wasted opportunity to have a supreme RVW conductor Boult on board and only record Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

The rationale was surely that RVW did not "need" evangelising in the way the majority of the other chosen composers (at that time) on disc did.  A reasonable point of view.

Irons

Quote from: Roasted Swan on January 06, 2023, 01:51:10 PMThe rationale was surely that RVW did not "need" evangelising in the way the majority of the other chosen composers (at that time) on disc did.  A reasonable point of view.

Elgar even less so but Lyrita saw fit to record both symphonies.

Being a devil's advocate as all said and done my world would be a poorer place without Lyrita.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

I opened the door people rushed through and I was left holding the knob - Bo Diddley.

Roasted Swan

#227
Quote from: Irons on January 06, 2023, 11:57:27 PMElgar even less so but Lyrita saw fit to record both symphonies.

Being a devil's advocate as all said and done my world would be a poorer place without Lyrita.

2 LP's among dozens - a young Andrew Davis recorded some Elgar for Lyrita too.  My general point is valid.

aukhawk

The Elgar symphony recordings on Lyrita pre-dated the EMI 're-makes' (though not by long).  At the time of release they were hailed as important documents, the only real alternative being Barbirolli which, if I recall, spread the 2nd Symphony over 3 sides of LP, so not an attractive package for buyers.

Roasted Swan

QuoteThe Elgar symphony recordings on Lyrita pre-dated the EMI 're-makes' (though not by long).  At the time of release they were hailed as important documents, the only real alternative being Barbirolli which, if I recall, spread the 2nd Symphony over 3 sides of LP, so not an attractive package for buyers.

The story - which others than I might be able to verify or dismiss - is that Boult had a run-in with the producer of the lyrita disc (no idea who that was) because they insisted on the violins both being to the conductor's left instead of Boult preferred antiphonal arrangement.  Why anyone would so insist to a conductor of Boult's stature is beyond me!  Anyway the sessions were 'tense'.  Certainly by timings alone the performances are more urgent than the EMI recordings but not necessarily more so than Boult's earlier versions.  Given that Boult subsequently made many successful LP's for Lyrita clearly the disagreement was not lasting........  Sonically these Elgar recordings are good for their age (1968) but not as excellent as so many other Lyrita discs.  They are some of the very earliest Lyrita orchestral recordings...

Irons

Quote from: aukhawk on January 07, 2023, 01:54:07 AMThe Elgar symphony recordings on Lyrita pre-dated the EMI 're-makes' (though not by long).  At the time of release they were hailed as important documents, the only real alternative being Barbirolli which, if I recall, spread the 2nd Symphony over 3 sides of LP, so not an attractive package for buyers.

True. The 2nd Symphony was rereleased as a single album in the early '70s. Barbirolli's recording of the 1st Symphony (ASD 540) with Philharmonia was released on a single album in 1963.

You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

I opened the door people rushed through and I was left holding the knob - Bo Diddley.

DaveF

This disc:



gets an extraordinary hatchet-job of a review on Qobuz, a site supposedly devoted to selling recordings:
https://www.qobuz.com/gb-en/album/rubbra-violin-concerto-op-103-improvisations-op-89-edmund-rubbra/0747313259120

I can't see any mention of it on this thread; is it really so bad, does anyone know?
"All the world is birthday cake" - George Harrison

Roasted Swan

#232
Quote from: DaveF on January 23, 2023, 09:59:08 AMThis disc:



gets an extraordinary hatchet-job of a review on Qobuz, a site supposedly devoted to selling recordings:
https://www.qobuz.com/gb-en/album/rubbra-violin-concerto-op-103-improvisations-op-89-edmund-rubbra/0747313259120

I can't see any mention of it on this thread; is it really so bad, does anyone know?

As it happens I listened to this disc for the first time (the disc not the music) just a couple of days ago.  The concerto is not a work I know well - I have the Tasmin Little recording but my memory is of preferring the viola concerto coupling.  Perhaps my mood was more attuned this time but I certainly enjoyed the work and the performance much more than memory serves.  The Improvisation is very rare on disc and the Giles Farnby suite fun but slight.  The recording and playing was perfectly good too.  Not seen the Qobuz "review" so don't know the source of their ire.  I picked it up as an online bargain and am certainly happy to have done so......

EDIT:  out of curiosity just read the Qobuz review.  Someone who doesn't like Rubbra from the get-go I'd say.... so why bother listening in the first place!  One thing I do feel is an issue with Rubbra is his orchestration.  Its not a new criticism I know but his textures can be quite thick.  An occasional passage of just a handful of instruments and less "dense" writing would be effective I think.  But I still like this disc!

calyptorhynchus

#233
Quote from: DaveF on January 23, 2023, 09:59:08 AMThis disc:



gets an extraordinary hatchet-job of a review on Qobuz, a site supposedly devoted to selling recordings:
https://www.qobuz.com/gb-en/album/rubbra-violin-concerto-op-103-improvisations-op-89-edmund-rubbra/0747313259120

I can't see any mention of it on this thread; is it really so bad, does anyone know?
I love this recording (and I prefer the violin conc to the viola ditto). I don't know why Qobuz would feature a poor review, in my experience of writing online reviews only my laudatory ones got published, the critical ones never.

DaveF

Thanks, both.  Sadly, the Tasmin Little / Rivka Golani / Vernon Handley disc seems to be unavailable, as this would be an obvious choice.  I would be interested to hear the Farnaby Improvisations, though - Rubbra was the patron of my school's music department (I'm not sure why, as we were a good 30 miles from Northampton) which meant that we in the school orchestra used to play this piece from time to time, almost certainly the only Rubbra work that would have been within our capabilities.

For those of you without access to Qobuz, the review goes like this:

QuoteEdmund Rubbra's 11 symphonies and large-scale choral works are his best-known efforts, but his occasional forays into the concerto genre are also worth noting, though one should explore them with diminished expectations. Violinist Krysia Osostowicz and the Ulster Orchestra, conducted by Takuo Yuasa, present the rather ambitious and cumbersome Concerto for violin and orchestra, Op. 103 (1959), with clarity and intensity, and on the strength of their playing, make it the only worthwhile offering on this 2005 Naxos disc. Osostowicz's penetrating tone and polished technique are admirable, and the orchestra supplies surprisingly fluid accompaniment, even though Rubbra's music is at times too plodding and ponderous. This lively performance saves the concerto, and makes it worth a serious hearing, even if it is an uncomfortably earnest and graceless piece. There is little reason, however, to get excited over the brooding and gloomy Improvisation for violin and orchestra, Op. 89 (1956), which just goes in circles for 12 exasperating minutes; and one may feel even less enthusiasm for the Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Giles Farnaby, Op. 50 (1938-1939), which are neo-Renaissance fancies of little color or feeling, similar in style to Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite, but without the charm or imagination. Because this music is quite lackluster, Naxos' fine sound quality may seem less vibrant than it really is.
"All the world is birthday cake" - George Harrison

Irons

Quote from: DaveF on January 23, 2023, 12:57:33 PMThanks, both.  Sadly, the Tasmin Little / Rivka Golani / Vernon Handley disc seems to be unavailable, as this would be an obvious choice.  I would be interested to hear the Farnaby Improvisations, though - Rubbra was the patron of my school's music department (I'm not sure why, as we were a good 30 miles from Northampton) which meant that we in the school orchestra used to play this piece from time to time, almost certainly the only Rubbra work that would have been within our capabilities.

For those of you without access to Qobuz, the review goes like this:


A damming review of the work not performance. Be interesting what he thought of the Delius VC, my guess, again not the reviewer's cup of tea. I like both concertos very much and for the Rubbra I find Carl Pini more then satisfactory.

You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

I opened the door people rushed through and I was left holding the knob - Bo Diddley.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Irons on January 24, 2023, 01:31:07 AMA damming review of the work not performance. Be interesting what he thought of the Delius VC, my guess, again not the reviewer's cup of tea. I like both concertos very much and for the Rubbra I find Carl Pini more then satisfactory.



I'd forgotten about that recording - Pini led the Philharmonia after Hugh Bean and before Christopher Warren-Green before he moved to Australia I seem to recall.  Fine player.

Irons

Quote from: Roasted Swan on January 24, 2023, 01:46:12 AMI'd forgotten about that recording - Pini led the Philharmonia after Hugh Bean and before Christopher Warren-Green before he moved to Australia I seem to recall.  Fine player.

Yes, especially during the LP era Pini is a name that crops up time and time again.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

I opened the door people rushed through and I was left holding the knob - Bo Diddley.

calyptorhynchus

Just interested in different impressions, the Qobuz reviewer writes ' This lively performance saves the concerto, and makes it worth a serious hearing, even if it is an uncomfortably earnest and graceless piece.' I have always found this concerto, on the contrary, light-hearted and graceful, and one of Rubbra's best works.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: calyptorhynchus on January 25, 2023, 12:19:50 PMJust interested in different impressions, the Qobuz reviewer writes ' This lively performance saves the concerto, and makes it worth a serious hearing, even if it is an uncomfortably earnest and graceless piece.' I have always found this concerto, on the contrary, light-hearted and graceful, and one of Rubbra's best works.

I have to say I do not enjoy Rubbra's music as much as many other British composers but I agree that the Violin Concerto is both enjoyable and effectively written.