Author Topic: William Mathias (1934-92)  (Read 2465 times)

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Offline Maestro267

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William Mathias (1934-92)
« on: August 01, 2015, 10:32:05 AM »
William Mathias was a Welsh composer, born in Whitland, Carmarthenshire, on 1 November 1934. His output includes 3 symphonies, concertos, tone poems, choral works both sacred and secular, and solo organ works.

I discovered his music when I chanced upon a performance of his 1984 Organ Concerto on a Welsh-language radio station about 4 years ago. It had me hooked for the entire work. I'd never heard a work for organ and such a colourful orchestra before. Sadly, there is not a recording currently available. I next came across his music about 2 years later when I found a recording of his 1st and 2nd Symphonies in a charity shop. I fell in love with the music immediately, especially the 2nd Symphony. The sound world is quite similar to Bax and Debussy.

Along with the likes of Daniel Jones, Grace Williams and Alun Hoddinott, I'm beginning to discover that Wales has a symphonic tradition of its own.

Offline lescamil

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2015, 10:15:11 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXxIJ7upP_c

Found this on YouTube. I hadn't heard this work before. Early impressions are great! My Mathias experience is limited, but I am familiar with some of the concertos. I heard the violin concerto at the Proms last year and I have heard two of the piano concertos. All great stuff. Immediately engaging music that has remained in my head.
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Offline relm1

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2015, 10:16:51 AM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXxIJ7upP_c

Found this on YouTube. I hadn't heard this work before. Early impressions are great! My Mathias experience is limited, but I am familiar with some of the concertos. I heard the violin concerto at the Proms last year and I have heard two of the piano concertos. All great stuff. Immediately engaging music that has remained in my head.

That was excellent.  Thanks for posting...I must explore more of his limited output.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2015, 12:45:10 PM »
I liked the First Symphony very much.
"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 Maestro267

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2015, 12:50:08 PM »
His choral-orchestral work Lux Aeterna was given a performance at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford this last week. It received its premiere at the 1982 Festival. I have the Chandos recording of this work and I really like it. Its scoring for three distinct ensembles, each with their own text, invites comparison with Britten's War Requiem.

cilgwyn

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2015, 04:58:07 AM »
I like all three of his symphonies! The Nimbus recordings are superb.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2016, 09:52:57 PM »
I have known about Mathias for about ten years, but was giving him a listen again recently. I have heard most of the orchestral or instrumental pieces that are recorded or available in the Albion archive of radio broadcasts.

I really like his music, the Symphonies and string quartets are great and there is a liveliness and invigorating quality about it all: it never wallows!

One gem from the radio recordings (good quality too) is Reflections on a Theme of Topkins. This is a series of loose variations, very fine ones, where the theme doesn't enter until the end (on a harpsichord). Well worth listening to.

The pieces I most regret not having good quality recordings of are the Concerto for Orchestra from the early 1960s and the Organ Concerto from the early 1980s. I hope the Itter recording allow more Mathias to be issued on disk.

Offline Daverz

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2016, 10:29:23 PM »
An excellent Clarinet Concerto.  I have it on this Argo Lp, and it seems to be available on a Lyrita CD.





And that's not all!  There's a new Michael Collins recording that looks intriguing:






cilgwyn

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2016, 12:22:39 AM »
Nice to hear that someone else enjoys his Second Symphony. I seem to recall one critic referring it to sounding like a Welsh version of Bax. A lazy comparison;but it does have that legendary quality. Unsurprisingly,with respect to it's inspiration. His First Symphony is full of wiry,propulsive energy. I'll have to listen to the third again. The Symphonies benefit from very good recordings and performances on those Nimbus cds. The fill-up items are very good too. I wouldn't mind hearing the earlier recording of the First,which is available on Lyrita,now. That would have been the one stocked by Welsh libraries back in the days of the Lp. Unfortunately I missed that one. I remember getting to know the Daniel Jones Fourth and Seventh that way! (THey were coupled on the same Lp).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2016, 10:10:06 AM »
Nice to hear that someone else enjoys his Second Symphony. I seem to recall one critic referring it to sounding like a Welsh version of Bax. A lazy comparison;but it does have that legendary quality. Unsurprisingly,with respect to it's inspiration. His First Symphony is full of wiry,propulsive energy. I'll have to listen to the third again. The Symphonies benefit from very good recordings and performances on those Nimbus cds. The fill-up items are very good too. I wouldn't mind hearing the earlier recording of the First,which is available on Lyrita,now. That would have been the one stocked by Welsh libraries back in the days of the Lp. Unfortunately I missed that one. I remember getting to know the Daniel Jones Fourth and Seventh that way! (THey were coupled on the same Lp).
I discovered them on those LPs too.
"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: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2016, 12:53:26 PM »
His choral-orchestral work Lux Aeterna was given a performance at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford this last week. It received its premiere at the 1982 Festival. I have the Chandos recording of this work and I really like it. Its scoring for three distinct ensembles, each with their own text, invites comparison with Britten's War Requiem.

Yes, Lux Aeterna, one of the finest oratoria I know. I cherish the Chandos CD recording, but I think I heard it first on LP not long after 1982. Could there have been a Lyrita recording of its premiere - or who else did it?
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline relm1

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2016, 04:04:05 PM »
I am listening to this CD now:


and it is excellent.  Every work is interesting, melodic, and makes me wanting more!

cilgwyn

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 11:44:42 AM »
I heard the performance of his third Piano concerto a few weeks ago,on Radio 3. I kept trying to think who the composer was. I was a bit surprised when the announcer said it was William Mathias. It was percussive in places,some parts of it were even jazzy with a brooding slow movement,which really grabbed me. I kept thinking it might be by an American composer,or even Bartok (you can tell how desperate I was!)!! Anyway,to cut a long story short,I was very impressed. I must admit I didn't think a Piano concerto by Mathias would be this good. The pianist was Llyr Williams,who is often on the Welsh language tv channel here. His performance was very exciting and kept my attention all the way through!! The biggest surprise was when I realised that this same concerto was on a Lyrita cd I had. I took it to a charity shop in the end because I thought the music on it was pleasant,but a bit samey. And there lies the problem.....for me,anyway! I think his First Symphony is particularly fine. And I like the others. Although the First is the best of the bunch! The trouble is....at his worst he does seem to have churned out stuff. Some of it,pleasant enough;but as per those works on that Lyrita cd;you only need so much! I also enjoyed listening to his First Piano concerto on Youtube. I coupled it,on a cd-r, with the third Piano concerto,and together they make a very satisfying pair!! Incidentally,I have listened to parts of the recording of the Piano concerto No 3 on the Lyrita cd,and the performance by Llyr Williams does seem to be the one that really does it for me! The slow movements are particularly fantastic. Brooding stillness that really draws you in!

cilgwyn

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2017, 12:08:07 PM »
Two more days on the R3 website to listen to this performance of his Piano Concerto No 3. I am adding this to the list of Mathias compositions I enjoy the most. In this performance,anyway! I used Audacity to record it (I'd have used ye olde cassette deck if I'd known!!! ::))

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08bbj1v

Oops,Daverz! I think that Clarinet Concerto is one of the pieces I liked on that cd! I just felt some of the pieces weren't Mathias at his best!

I'm enjoying his First Piano Concerto now. This is the Youtube performance. It strikes me that Mathias writes particularly effectively for the piano. I love those slow movements. I think the First and third Piano concertos make a very good coupling.

I should be referring to the quiet reflective moments in these Piano concertos. I've been very busy for the last few hours. Wearing cordless headphones means you lose sight of the all essential display on the hi-fi! :-[ Hopefully,I can sit down now!! :( ;D Yes,I think these are Mathias at his best!


Offline kyjo

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2019, 08:42:46 PM »
Mathias doesn't get discussed as much as other British composers here, but I've really enjoyed exploring his output recently. His compositional voice is unique and instantly recognizable - his works are notable for their very colorful orchestration, with particularly extensive and arresting use of the percussion (especially of the tuned variety). The composer whose style he's closest to is probably Tippett in his more atmospheric, "magical" works (e.g. the Piano Concerto), but Mathias generally uses dissonance more lightly than him. Perhaps his music lacks the "heart" of, say, Arnold or Lloyd, but it is all very engaging and accessible. All three of his symphonies are excellent - the 1st has a particularly gorgeous slow movement with prominent orchestral piano part, the 2nd (Summer Music) has a most magically mysterious opening and a riotously energetic finale, and 3rd is the darkest (yet still colorful) of the three. Also, his Harp Concerto is quite mesmerizing - one of the finest in the genre along with those by Ginastera, Gliere, and Jongen - and his Clarinet Concerto is great as well with an infectiously jazzy finale.
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Offline Daverz

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2019, 10:05:10 PM »
Just got the Lyrita recording of the Symphony No. 1



Beautiful work.  The end sounds a bit like a Piston finale.

Followed up with the recording on Nimbus, which sounds like it might have been a good performance sabotaged by a Zeppelin hangar acoustic. 
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 11:03:16 PM by Daverz »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2019, 09:56:46 PM »
Just got the Lyrita recording of the Symphony No. 1



Beautiful work.  The end sounds a bit like a Piston finale.

Followed up with the recording on Nimbus, which sounds like it might have been a good performance sabotaged by a Zeppelin hangar acoustic.

That's a very nice CD. Originally the Joubert was released by Lyrita as a 'single' but it's good that it's been coupled with the fine Mathias Symphony. I like both of those symphonies very much.
"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 André

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2019, 03:37:31 AM »
William Mathias was a Welsh composer, born in Whitland, Carmarthenshire, on 1 November 1934. His output includes 3 symphonies, concertos, tone poems, choral works both sacred and secular, and solo organ works.

I discovered his music when I chanced upon a performance of his 1984 Organ Concerto on a Welsh-language radio station about 4 years ago. It had me hooked for the entire work. I'd never heard a work for organ and such a colourful orchestra before. Sadly, there is not a recording currently available. I next came across his music about 2 years later when I found a recording of his 1st and 2nd Symphonies in a charity shop. I fell in love with the music immediately, especially the 2nd Symphony. The sound world is quite similar to Bax and Debussy.

Along with the likes of Daniel Jones, Grace Williams and Alun Hoddinott, I'm beginning to discover that Wales has a symphonic tradition of its own.

I yet have to ‘connect’ with Grace Williams’ music, but the other composers mentioned have long been firm favourites.

The music of Mathias (symphonies, various concertos and choral music) is unfailingly ingratiating. His sense of form and proportions makes me think of Haydn. His melodic and orchestration talents never get the better of him. Everything blooms within proper bounds.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2019, 08:05:41 AM »
Just got the Lyrita recording of the Symphony No. 1



Beautiful work.  The end sounds a bit like a Piston finale.

Followed up with the recording on Nimbus, which sounds like it might have been a good performance sabotaged by a Zeppelin hangar acoustic.
I rather like the idea of the Zeppelin hangar acoustic!
 8)
"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).

cilgwyn

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Re: William Mathias (1934-92)
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2019, 11:10:12 AM »
I yet have to ‘connect’ with Grace Williams’ music, but the other composers mentioned have long been firm favourites.

The music of Mathias (symphonies, various concertos and choral music) is unfailingly ingratiating. His sense of form and proportions makes me think of Haydn. His melodic and orchestration talents never get the better of him. Everything blooms within proper bounds.
Keep trying,maybe?! I found some of her music a little,severe,at first! I've just been bowled over,by her Missa Cambrensis,though;after listening to the cd-r,I made,some time ago,of the (fairly) recent performance;which,alas,will never reach a planned,Lyrita,cd!! :( (Available for download,at the Art Music Forum,by the way,if anyone's interested,in very good sound quality?!)