Author Topic: Tippett's Tearoom  (Read 85343 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #440 on: October 28, 2017, 09:32:46 PM »
I like Tippett's first two symphonies quite a bit, but I do understand what you mean about his music being too complex and "busy" for its own good. That said, I've sampled a bit of his The Rose Lake which sounded quite entrancing.

The Rose Lake is very much worth your time, Kyle.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #441 on: October 29, 2017, 01:10:31 AM »
A new CD of symphonies 1 and 2 is coming out on Hyperion I think. A former work colleague knew Tippett quite well. He is not one of my favourite composers but I think that the Concerto for Double String Orchestra is a wonderful work. I also like symphonies 1 and 2 the Corelli Variations, the Suite of the Birthday of Prince Charles and the oratorio 'A Child of Our Time', the end of which I find incredibly moving.
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Offline DaveF

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #442 on: October 30, 2017, 01:15:54 PM »
A new CD of symphonies 1 and 2 is coming out on Hyperion I think.

Yes - conducted by the indefatigable Brabbins.  That is good news - even no.2, a 20th-century masterpiece (IMHO), isn't exactly well-served on disc.  No.1 is superb too, with that rather Shostakovich-like (and rather un-Tippett-like) passacaglia slow movement.
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Online calyptorhynchus

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #443 on: February 01, 2018, 11:31:23 PM »
I have just posted a recording of the BBC broadcast of the Symphony in Bflat from 1932 ('Symphony No.0')

http://artmusic.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,506.195.html

(You have to register before being able to download).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #444 on: October 12, 2018, 09:46:23 AM »
Good job I checked there was a thread for Tippett - otherwise I was going to start Tippett's tribulations...!

Is it just my impression or has Tippett really fallen from favour since his death?  OK there is this Hyperion cycle started of his symphonies - but not much else is being added to the recorded catalogue.  Is he featuring much in concerts?  I really don't know.

He's never been a favourite or even a moderatley liked composer of mine but out of duty(!) rather than pleasure I listened to Symphony No.4 recently from Hickox



and goodness me I enjoyed it a lot.  Excellent Chandos engineering backing up really committed BSO playing.  I still think he makes the textures and the musical material too complex - but I'm closely than ever to being convinced......

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #445 on: October 12, 2018, 03:30:57 PM »
Good job I checked there was a thread for Tippett - otherwise I was going to start Tippett's tribulations...!

Is it just my impression or has Tippett really fallen from favour since his death?  OK there is this Hyperion cycle started of his symphonies - but not much else is being added to the recorded catalogue.  Is he featuring much in concerts?  I really don't know.

He's never been a favourite or even a moderatley liked composer of mine but out of duty(!) rather than pleasure I listened to Symphony No.4 recently from Hickox



and goodness me I enjoyed it a lot.  Excellent Chandos engineering backing up really committed BSO playing.  I still think he makes the textures and the musical material too complex - but I'm closely than ever to being convinced......

It's a captivating and mysterious work, it could not be straightforward at first listens but my experience with this symphony is always rewarding. There is a masterful use of the percussion to create some disquieting effects. I only have that recording and I'm quite pleased with it.

Offline Biffo

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #446 on: October 13, 2018, 02:29:39 AM »
Several years ago there was quite an active discussion of Tippett and the 4th Symphony in particular. I had owned the Solti/Chicago SO recording for quite some time so I listened to it again; as with my first listening it it did very little for me. Others were enthusiastic so I persisted. I found an analysis of the work and was able to follow it while listening. It clarified the structure of the piece but still didn't endear it to me.

My favourite Tippett pieces are the Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli and the Concerto for Double String Orchestra - Marriner/ASMF is unsurpassed in both.

Offline knight66

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #447 on: October 13, 2018, 01:18:24 PM »
About the only large scale piece of his that has a foothold in the UK is The Child of Our Time. Up against his operas for example, it is accessable. The contempory champions of his operas have died, Hickox and Davis, and no one currently seems inclined to advocate them. They are like slabs of philosophy stuffed onto the stage. And listening to him explaining them, I felt I could understand why they were so clotted and basically untheatrical.

I can’t remember the last time I saw one of his symphonies programmed, mabe a year or so ago in the London Proms.

Perhaps he will be rediscovered. Or perhaps Child of Our Time and the string pieces mentioned will be all that is played.

Mike
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Offline Maestro267

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #448 on: October 16, 2018, 02:14:19 AM »
At least with recordings of many of his works, people have the opportunity to discover Tippett's music, if they wish to dig for it.

Offline relm1

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #449 on: October 16, 2018, 06:50:15 AM »
I enjoy his late oratorio, The Mask of Time.  It is quite an evocative work spanning 95 minutes.

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #450 on: October 16, 2018, 07:46:48 AM »
I never have been able to appreciate late Tippett. The Mask of Time is no exception. There’s one late work which I think is quite beautiful and it’s The Rose Lake.
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Offline North Star

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #451 on: October 16, 2018, 07:58:53 AM »
Good to see you back, John!

Agreed about The Rose Lake - I think I'll revisit the Hickox recording now, actually. I'd also add the string quartets and the Piano Concerto to the list of Tippett that shouldn't be forgotten..
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #452 on: October 16, 2018, 08:26:52 AM »
Good to see you back, John!

Agreed about The Rose Lake - I think I'll revisit the Hickox recording now, actually. I'd also add the string quartets and the Piano Concerto to the list of Tippett that shouldn't be forgotten..

Yes, good to see you back indeed.

I must listen to the Rose Lake.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline knight66

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #453 on: October 16, 2018, 01:16:45 PM »
I will give The Rose Lake a listen, it is some time since I heard it. Another very late work, it disappointed me, but I ought to go back to it with my expectations being different. Byzantium was written with Jessye Norman in mind and she had the piece for about a year, only telling Solti and Chicago two weeks before the premier that she was withdrawing for personal reasons. The Soprano who took over at short notice and appears on the disc has a very different kind of voice. It is not her fault that she sounds completely unlike Norman, who possibly was in any case unsuited to the tessitura of the piece. I recall it as sounding fractured, without the long melodies I had hoped for. So, as I say, time for another go at it.

I was conducted by Tippet in two performances of Child of Our Time. He was getting on a bit, though had a fair few years left in him. He absolutely knew the piece in microscopic detail, correcting some parts errors in the brass. He was exceptionally short sighted, checking the score by holding it within a couple of inches of his eyes. He was delightful, like an aging public schoolboy. He wafted his hand at us in the choir and said that he was aware we were there but he could not see us at all.

In performance he lost concentration and stopped conducting at the ‘What of the boy then?’ passage. We followed the leader until he came back to us. A sweat on the back of the knees moment. The lapse was something our chief conductor Alexander Gibson was prone to, not an age induced problem with him though.

Mike
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 10:51:18 PM by knight66 »
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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #454 on: October 18, 2018, 04:10:31 PM »
The five string  quartets  are marvellous. The fourth and fifth in particular are very late Beethovenish. The fifth is a kind of valedictory work with quotations from earlier works... fun to see how many you can identify.

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #455 on: October 23, 2018, 03:20:20 AM »
They need to reissue that recording or make a new one of The Mask of Time. I'm interested in it as I am interested in continuing the lineage of post-War Requiem British choral-orchestral works.

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #456 on: September 18, 2019, 10:02:12 AM »


Few times I've seen this quartet cycle named amongst the greatest ones from the 20th Century and it really deserves that credit. 5 extraordinary, meaty, striking and dense pieces that reward the listener. It seemed that each quartet is better than the previous one. Each tells a lot and they're not necessarily hard listens, perhaps the most advanced 4th is, albeit I didn'f find it so as such. In some of them there are some quotes from Beethoven's quartets. I could only perceive quotes from the Grosse Fuge in the SQs 3 and 4. Very interesting. Recommended for fans of this form. The performances are incredible. The Lindsays do understand what Tippett meant, that was my perception.

Offline North Star

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #457 on: September 18, 2019, 10:24:02 AM »
Yes, a great cycle. I have the Heath Quartet cycle, which I recall many reviews have said to be the best. I haven't heard other recordings, but I was certainly very impressed with the performances. It seems to be out of print at present, though.

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #458 on: September 18, 2019, 03:31:16 PM »
Yes, a great cycle. I have the Heath Quartet cycle, which I recall many reviews have said to be the best. I haven't heard other recordings, but I was certainly very impressed with the performances. It seems to be out of print at present, though.



Oh yes, I've read several positive reviews about their playing. It will be interesting to compare both recordings.

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #459 on: July 17, 2021, 10:07:22 AM »
LONG POST ALERT....

How to start with the Triple Concerto? It is one of my favourite Tippett works, one of his most lyrical pieces and almost certainly the most sonically sumptuous.

A basic outline is:

The Triple Concerto is a more-or-less standard three movement concerto, essentially fast-slow-fast. However, Tippett separates the movements with two Interludes, during which the soloists do not play. As the soloists aren't active in the Interludes, one could say thatat these points Tippett is not advancing the musical argument, but 'merely' setting the scene or changing the atmosphere. So the first Interlude, delicate and mysterious and wonderfully scored, prepares the way for the intense lyricism of the central slow movement, whilst the second Interlude renimates the music after this deliciously poetic vision, being scored for percussion and brass alone, and thus preparing for the Elgar-ish material which opens the last movement.

More detailed points would be:

FIRST MOVEMENT
The Concerto has an opening motive, a kind of 'birth motive' very similar to that found in the 4th symphony (in fact, the general texture, the orchestration and even the basic notes are more or less the same). This motive recurs, unchanged in essentials, at key moments.  It is followed by the entrance of the soloists, one by one, violin, viola, cello, each taking turns and mapping out their own specific material. This idea here is a little like that found in the Concerto for Orchestra and the 2nd Sonata, only less rigorously applied; that is, each instrument has musical types which it 'owns' and which recur juxtaposed in all manner of ways. The violin has those slashing chords and dazzling virtuosic leaps; the viola lyrical lines in double stops; the cello a mixture of the two moods, lyrical and impetuous, but none of the same music. From the cello we move back to the violin - the sweet, high, crescendo-ing octaves falling into gentle, spicato open fifth. And finally, after this expository, introductory material, we move to the fundamental, central music of this movement, what is essentially the first subject. Here, all three soloists play together for the first time (with the lightest of accompaniments in glockenspiel, vibraphone and a few other discrete touches in the winds). This is a magical moment in Tippett, IMO - the texture here is amazing, and it is found again, almost identically though somehow with less strikingly abundant lyricism, in the 4th quartet. The viola is at the bottom, with a warm, undulating idea in sixths (sounding in 2/4, though the time signature here is 3/4) (there's a kinship between this idea and the birth motive, too, in some ways). Above it the two other soloists spin a shining web of higher notes, the violin with a wide leaping melody in 6/8, the cello with a high line featuring prominent repeated notes. I make a big deal of describing this passage because it is so central to the piece, even though it never lasts for very long.

The mood so far has been mostly lyrical, sometime skittish, sometimes rich, impulsive, all in the shadow of that dark opening birth motive in which the horns feature prominently. After that point we have heard only the soloists, lightly accompanied by strings, winds and glints of percussion. Suddenly all this changes, with echoing brass fanfares, along with percussion slaps and snaps.. A glowing, dancing transition in winds, mallets, tuned gongs and bells leads into what one could call the second subject - another lyrical one. Here we see a principle which will be expanded in the slow movement - the varying presentations of a long lyrical theme, split in various ways through the soloist. Accompanied by rich harp figures, the theme itself features prominent, repeated falling ninths and twisting quintuplet, and it is always heard on two of the soloists, whilst the third dances  in 'light, delicate, accompanying' figures across the strings. Each combination of the soloists 'gets to' play the melody - first vioin and cello, then cello and viola, then viola and violin, and, briefly, finally violin and cello again. And at this point we reach one more wonderful idea, totally unexpected.

A hum starts up, created by an exquisitely orchestrated presentation of a single chord spelt, from top to bottom, E, D sharp, B, A, E. This chord is maintained in delicately pattering patterns of pizzicato strings (this is an idea which is important in this concerto). Above it, reinforcing it, we hear a bar of rich harp and mallets (bells, vibes, marimba and tuned gong again), and then a bar of 'brassy, nasal' horn, repeating an E in an insistent crescendo, supported by the timp. This page looks uncannily like the transcriptions one sees in ethonomusicology books of gamelans - uncanny except for the fact that it was indeed prompted by this sort of music example, in Cloin McPhee's book Music in Bali (IIRC). The four-note mode, the fast, interlocking, cross-rhythmed patterns, the resonant, glowing mallet sounds - all these are directly inspired by the gamelan, and they pave the way, here, for the much more sumptuous gamelan sounds of the slow movement. At this point, however, the are interrupted by 'strong, brilliant' dancing figures from the soloists (the first time they actually play entirely homophonically). The pattern recurs three times, until finally, the brass, who haven't feautred much apart from their earlier fanfares, break in once more, developing the soloists' dancing figure into a 'crisp, bright' dance of their own. A 'bell-like, brilliant' bar of link from winds and mallets (glock, bells, marimba, vibes) and suddenly, we are back at the opening birth-motive, in unchanged rhythm and orchestration, but one tone higher

What happens now is the development section. It is, fundamentally, about the superimposition of elements which had previously been heard separately (again, look at the Concerto for Orchestra for a much more rigorous application of this idea). So, after the birth motive, instead of the gradual introduction of the soloists, they burst in together, the cello playing the birth motive again, the other two playing versions of previously-heard figuration

I won't go into too much detail about the rest of the movement - you will hear all the ideas you've already heard again. But notice the formal logic with which things are presented. Soon after the passage I last described, the viola takes a solo, but this time accompanied; then we hear the initial brass fanfares again, with a string figure underpinning the this time. Then the cello takes a longer solo, accompanied again (and this time by its solo colleagues, too). This solo starts with the cello's initial material, but then (I love this moment) for ten bars 'singing, passionate' plays a never-before-heard and never-heard-again melody, accompanied by some amazing scoring in the winds. More previously heard material - the link to the second subject, and the second subject itself, and now something else completely new - an odd murmuring in the clarinet/bass clarinets accompanying a long solo in the violin (see how the formal pattering plays out?) which finishes in the same way as it did earlier in the concerto, in such a way as to lead into the first subjecto, presented in the same way by the soloists alone, and extended into a few stormy bars in which the timps join. This is followed, unaltered, (importantly - it doesn't change, it just acts as a kind of magical catalyst, I think) by the 'gamelan' episode from earlier, which as before is followed by the dancing brass fanfare and the link bar...which this time is echoed by an approximation of itself in the soloists; the link bar and its echo are heard again, higher, there is a pause but no double bar, and we are in...

INTERLUDE 1

Sorry to be so wordy about movement I. I wanted to give an idea of the way the layer, cutting and juxtapositions work in this piece. There is no real development of ideas at all; the development takes place in their combination. Interlude 1 is just as fascinating (well, I find it fascinating anyway!) but simpler. It is really one of Tippett's most delicate, tender, fragrant beautiful moments, a garden of exquisite sonorites. To remind you, the soloists do not play in this movement. Almost everything takes place over gentle lapping murmurings in strings, harp, mallet instruments, celesta etc. Take that as read. Over this sort of thing the following happens:

Alto flute solo
Horn duet
Bass oboe solo  (note the dry, quiet pizzicati in the background)

Again just a pause, no double bar, and we are in the middle movement

SECOND MOVEMENT

The second movement is like the fulfilment of the promise of the Interlude. Here, in addition to the rapt sonorities, we have the soloists, singing one of the most intense, lyrical melodies in modern music (actually, I can't think of a more intense, lyrical melody in modern music...). This melody is presented rather like the second subject of the first movement - the soloists always play in octave, although not always the octave you'd expect (the cello often takes the middle one, about 2 octaves above middle C). Underneath there is a gorgeous swell, rolling like a deep wave, soft timps and mallets to the fore, and above the deep hum of a tuned gong in A flat, a heavy, incense-laden connection with that gamelan music in the first movement, but now deeply, sleepily sensuous. Another little orientalism here, almost inaudible - whilst the soloists sing their song, the orchestral violas pluck a little glissando, which is marked 'sitar-like' in the score.

Anyway, this movement is effectively a rondo, with this music for all three soloists plus the deep, gong-laden swell as the A theme, and most episodes featuring the soloists, one by one. If I lay it out as a schema, and you compare it to the schema I gave for the interlude, you'll see a fascinating thing, which I've never read about in my books on Tippett.

A - soloists plus orchestra
B - cello solo, duetting prominently with bass oboe
A - the theme now in the wind, the solosits decorating in octaves
C - a build up of ostinati, fanfare like figures in the wind and trumpets over FIVE tuned gongs (in a whole tone wedge from A flat up to E - tht is, from the gong note used most prominently in this movement to that used most prominently in the first movement). The gongs are sustained by horns and trombones
D - violin solo, duetting prominently with alto flute
C
E - violin and viola duet, with prominent accompaniment from pattering, quiet pizzicati
A - the  theme back with the soloists, but garlanded with a celesta solo now
F - the music dies away with pizzicati patterings again....and then, finish...
G - viola solo, duetting (trio-ing?) prominently with horn duet, and instantly echoing itself quietly, 'distant', and with the horns muted

Note, then, how the prominent wind solos of the interlude find fulfilment in the main movement as they partner the soloists in their own music

Again, no double bar, just a pause, and then

INTERLUDE 2

An echo of the brass and percussion fanfares in the first movement, maybe. The music wakes from its slumber with crsip clicks and snaps in the percussion - wood blocks, claves, castanets, and a hi-hat playing something that is essentially a swing rhythm. The music remains percussion only, and almost pitchless (apart from the tight timp rolls on E) until trumpets and trombone enter with skirling calls. Again, in a link to the first movments fanfares, where the horns echoe the trumpets, here the trombone echo the trumpets. The musi dies on the timps. Again no double bar, and we enter

MOVEMENT 3
Here we start with another moment of dark lyricism, on a bed of the lowest strings and winds. The soloists enter one by one, first the cello, gradually rising, joined by the viola, and finally the violin. A cresecndo, and the movement proper begins:

This is a melody in the orchestral strings, marked 'singing: rich, golden.' It is quite grandiose, at least at first, and I've seen it refered to as resembling Elgar; I tend to think of it in those terms too, though more for its attitude than its actual sound. For a while solosits and orchestra exchange this melody, and then suddenly the music changes mood entirely.

 The dry, pattering pizzicati are back, and over the top repeated insistent notes in wind and brass crescendo in seemingly unrelated tempo. This is in fact very similar to the gamelan music from movement 1, whose every other bar also featured a repeated note crescendoing in this same sort of rhythm, over single-harmony patterings in mallets and pizzicati strings. I find this section quite overwhelming, as the repeated notes grow more and more insistent, enticing the soloists to join in, which they do, with an angular, agile, joyful dance music over the top of everything. The music tumbles, unexpectedly, into...

The birth motive from movement 1. This is presented exactly as at the opening, and back at its originl pitch, a true recapitulation, but it continues in the soloists as it did on its second appearance in the opening movement, almosr unaltered (though at the lower pitch implied by the transposition of the birth motive. At the point at which this music broke off in the first movement, Tippett links to the music for the soloists from later in that movement, the music which leads up to the reappearance of the first subject and beyond. All of this is reheard, right up to what I called the 'stormy bars' where the timps join...and even beyond, because just as in the first movement here the gamelan music returns, exactly as it always is, at the same pitch. The 'stormy' music is exchanged with it once (the last we hear of the soloists) but it returns, quickly fragments, and, with a thwack on E, the concerto is over.

That last movement is odd, with its never-again-heard introduction, its never-again-heard 'Elgar' melody, its never-again-heard accumulation of repeated note ostinati, and then its sudden, condensed recap of the most salient music of the first movement. Possibly, it is one of those flawed parts of Tippett's oeuvre we were discussing. Certainly Meirion Bowen, Tippett's biggest and most committed advocate, thinks so. After the premiere Tippett rewrote quite a chunk of this movement because it just 'didn't register,' and maybe it still remains unbalanced. But personally I love this waywardness, I find it a compulsive, fascinating listen

Anyway, hope this gives some idea of the processes Tippett is working with in this most beautiful of pieces, and that it doesn't get in the way of enjoyment!

Listening to the Triple Concerto today in the warm sunshine.

This post is ridiculously helpful for someone like me. Coming to Tippett for the first time looks as though it may be a fascinating journey, and analyses like these make it easier, more enjoyable, informative and instructive. I almost bought a second hand copy of an analysis of his symphonies this week in London, but there were so many sections of printed score that it put me off. Not reading music puts me at such a disadvantage, and actually makes me realise yet again how little I am grasping of what might be enjoyed in orchestral music, but this sort of step by step guide is outstanding. Not having to wonder exactly which instruments are doing what, and why, is great.

What started as a 9am wake up with Symphony #2, while my wife picked up her brushes, has turned into a lovely day of discovery.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2021, 10:09:54 AM by foxandpeng »
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