Author Topic: The British Composers Thread  (Read 64790 times)

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Mark

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #40 on: October 25, 2007, 02:43:12 PM »
Currently listening to an exclusive preview (online) of Ades' Violin Concerto which will be released by EMI as a download-only album in November. I like what I hear ...

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #41 on: October 25, 2007, 02:43:40 PM »
Sir Eugene Goossens that is!

Offline jurajjak

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #42 on: October 25, 2007, 02:44:18 PM »
Agreed. Which leads me to strongly recommend this:

Bax, Bliss & Britten - Oboe Quintets

Worth it for Britten's Phantasy Quartet alone.

I'd be very interested in a further discussion of Bliss.  Since I first heard it about 3 years ago, I've been obsessed with Morning Heroes, probably his greatest work.  Does he have any other works that are equally good?  I know Rout, the Color Symphony, some of the film scores (i.e., Things to Come), Checkmate, the oboe quintent, and a couple other pieces, and while much of it is excellent, I haven't found another Bliss masterpiece on the level of Morning Heroes.  Does anyone know his opera The Olympians?  Apparently there is one obscure (live) recording.


andrew

Mark

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #43 on: October 25, 2007, 02:51:40 PM »
How could I forget Tovey (wonderful Cello Concerto), and Coleridge-Taylor! :o

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #44 on: October 25, 2007, 02:52:55 PM »
I'd be very interested in a further discussion of Bliss.  Since I first heard it about 3 years ago, I've been obsessed with Morning Heroes, probably his greatest work.  Does he have any other works that are equally good?  I know Rout, the Color Symphony, some of the film scores (i.e., Things to Come), Checkmate, the oboe quintent, and a couple other pieces, and while much of it is excellent, I haven't found another Bliss masterpiece on the level of Morning Heroes.  Does anyone know his opera The Olympians?  Apparently there is one obscure (live) recording.


andrew


As far as choral music is concerned, very little Bliss has been recorded. I wish that I could tell you that his big Cantatas "The Beatitudes"(1962), "Mary of Magdala"(1963) or "The Golden Cantata"(1964) were masterpieces but I have never heard any of them and, inexplicably, none has been recorded. "The Beatitudes" was written for the same rededication of Coventry Cathedral as Britten's War Requiem and was forgotten in all the publicity the Britten received.

I have a soft spot for his orchestral Meditations on a Theme of John Blow(1955) and the very late Metamorphic Variations for orchestra(1975)-both are sound works lacking that last final touch of inspiration.

Mark

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #45 on: October 25, 2007, 02:58:20 PM »
I like small-scale Bliss best - his Conversations for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello are fascinating works, as is his A Major String Quartet. The Piano Quartet also deserves to be heard more often.

Offline jurajjak

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #46 on: October 25, 2007, 03:33:48 PM »
I like small-scale Bliss best - his Conversations for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello are fascinating works, as is his A Major String Quartet. The Piano Quartet also deserves to be heard more often.

Thanks for the replies...I'll need to check out the quartets.  It was the first movement of Morning Heroes--a wonderful, terribly moving piece of melodrama--that first started my interest in Bliss.  I'm trying to hunt down the one recording of The Olympians.

Offline some guy

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #47 on: October 25, 2007, 06:38:08 PM »
I second Searle.

And add Harvey and Harrison and Cardew and Hobbs and Hodgkinson and Bailey and Rowe and Cutler.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #48 on: October 26, 2007, 02:04:46 AM »
  Thanks Lethe for the recommendation and Bruce for insisting that the lack of any Britten operas needs to be  addressed immediately.  I think thats where I will go to next -> Britten's operas as I have been buying opera DVDs at an alarming fast rate (3 per week)  ;D.

:) I am planning on buying pretty much every Britten DVD (that isn't region 1 - no region-free player atm) eventually, so will be able to direct you away from any stinkers :P At the moment the Peter Grimes that I linked is my favourite, with the film Turn of the Screw (Opus Arte) a strong contender. The NVC Arts/Warner Midsummer Night's Dream looks potentially amazing, but my copy doesn't work :-X I still need to return it.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2007, 02:10:04 AM by Lethe »
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #49 on: October 26, 2007, 02:48:33 AM »
Yeah, but we need to take into account that you dislike several other composers who people rank even higher than RVW - I guess his style just isn't your kind of thing :)

The Tallis Fantasia does use its material with economy, but to most it is highly effective. The symphonies are more in line with traditional expectations (the no.1 symphony is a fully choral one - almost to the point of being an oratorio - and somewhat influenced by Elgar), but I don't think it likely that you will enjoy his symphonies very much either. If you were to try any, perhaps the 9th, as even the 6th, which is commonly recommended as another side for people who are used to RVW's "happy" style, could probably be considered as "simplistic" by you. I would consider the orchestration more "to the point" than simplistic, and bursting with melody.

Edit: I guess my point is, don't try too hard to like him, he may be a "blind spot" in your interests, or if you do make an effort to enjoy his music, perhaps make sure that your expectations are ones that he can meet, rather than getting disappointed at him not being something else.

That's some nice advice Lethe! Thanks!  :)
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #50 on: October 26, 2007, 02:50:18 AM »
Try and get hold of the Barbirolli/English String music disc, then you'll know what you've been missing... ;)


 ;D I suppose that dics defines good English music to many.
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Offline Grazioso

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #51 on: October 26, 2007, 02:55:21 AM »
;D I suppose that dics defines good English music to many.

To me, this defines good English music:



:)
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #52 on: October 26, 2007, 03:17:27 AM »
Just heart-breaking. :'(

Firstly, you're starting off with a good but not excellent recording of the Tallis Fantasia (or, to give it its full name, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis ;)), and second, to conclude that nothing seems to happen strikes me as incredible, using that word literally. Were you not moved at all by it? That piece is in my very veins since I first heard it ten years ago (on the day Diana, Princess of Wales died, actually). It's so tragically beautiful, and so very, very English. If you love Elgar, then I fail to understand why this piece in particular doesn't speak to you.

Like I said, heart-breaking. :'(

I know Mark you value Vaughan Williams even higher than Elgar but I have always left cold by VW's music.

What I mean by saying nothing happens is I don't sense movement/changes in the music. VW's music sounds very similar all the time. It never does anything crazy/anarchist/unexpected to surprise the listener. There is no contrasts. That's why I talk about snow. You walk and walk but all you see around yourself is the same white snow and it makes you eventually blind. I also do not sense much musical structures. Harmony, rhythm, melody, tempi and other musical dimension don't seem to connect to each other. They live their own independent life. That makes the music "flat" for me (just like ground covered with show). VW sounds shockingly different from Elgar. There seems to be nothing in common. Even Sibelius who I don't care much either sounds more Elgar than VW.

It seems I need a snow shovel to remove the snow and see the colourful ground under it. Or, I need to look up to the sky and see the lark ascending.
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karlhenning

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #53 on: October 26, 2007, 03:21:17 AM »
Obvious error here corrected:

Quote
VW sounds shockingly refreshingly different to Elgar.

Offline JoshLilly

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #54 on: October 26, 2007, 04:21:31 AM »
Coleridge-Taylor wrote two of my favourite works for violin and orchestra. From the Hyperion 'The Romantic Violin Concerto' series, volume 5 contains his Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 80, paired up with Violin Concerto of Arthur Somervell. Coleridge-Taylor's Romance in G for Violin and Orchestra is really exquisite. There's at least one recording of his Symphony out there, and I was wondering what that was like.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #55 on: October 26, 2007, 05:07:02 AM »
Coleridge-Taylor wrote two of my favourite works for violin and orchestra. From the Hyperion 'The Romantic Violin Concerto' series, volume 5 contains his Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 80, paired up with Violin Concerto of Arthur Somervell. Coleridge-Taylor's Romance in G for Violin and Orchestra is really exquisite. There's at least one recording of his Symphony out there, and I was wondering what that was like.

It is an amiable enough work in the received Dvorak tradition of the time, having been composed in 1896 when C-T was a 21 year old student of Stanford.
Worth hearing but not as fine a work as the Violin Concerto.

It is coupled on a Classico CD with Cowen's Symphony No.6 "Idyllic". Cowen's Symphony No.3 "The Scandinavian" is available on Marco Polo and I believe that there are plans(Cameo Clasics) to record his Symphony No.4 "The Welsh".
Cameo Classics-apparently-have plans to record Holbrooke's Dramartic Choral Symphony No.1, "The Bells" and "Queen Mab" and Havergal Brian's Symphony No.5 "Wine of Summer"!!

This will sound sour but I have two problems with this sort of enterprise, fantastic though it is in so many ways. Firstly, the apparent current vogue for resurrecting late 19th and early 20th century British music does uncover a good deal of pretty humdrum stuff in a style which is well-schooled and pleasant enough but could almost have been written by Mendelssohn, let alone Brahms or Dvorak, and secondly(and more importantly) if the less well-known music of the past is to be restored to circulation it must be performed with conviction(which, to be fair, it usually is) and by an orchestra which can actually cope with its demands. The tragedy is that unless-for example-Havergal Brian's music is given ample rehearsal time and a good orchestra the music does not really have its fair chance. What this music needs is a conductor of genius-like a Beecham-to bring it back properly to life as the composer intended. Otherwise we get only a partial insight and, potentially, a misleading impression of its real quality.

Anyway, I knew that would sound an ungrateful note and that is the last thing I would want to send to those small companies which are currently doing such sterling work in this field. I have just received my new copies of Dunhill's Symphony and Chisholm's 2nd Symphony and I know that I can trust Dutton, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Martin Yates to have done a good job!!

Offline Lethevich

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #56 on: October 26, 2007, 05:27:18 AM »
Dundonnell - I also have problems with the recording priorities of some British record labels. I could go without ANY turn of the century academic stuff, but it could at least be kept to a minimum for a while - there is a lot of hardly recorded repertoire from the middle of the century (and later) which has passion to knock that stuff dead... But it does seem that the better music requires playing that is above routine - and routine playing suits the academics just fine, so they get recorded :P

As OK as composers like Stanford are, I just can't see the point in recording MORE of his chamber music at the expense of an inspired genius such as Finzi, or somebody, who don't even have their whole output recorded :-\
« Last Edit: October 26, 2007, 05:28:53 AM by Lethe »
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #57 on: October 26, 2007, 05:43:53 AM »
I have a soft spot for his orchestral Meditations on a Theme of John Blow(1955) and the very late Metamorphic Variations for orchestra(1975)-both are sound works lacking that last final touch of inspiration.

Me too (now there's a surprise!). The best recording of the Meditations on a Theme by Blow (so much better than the "aimiable, rambling piece" I have seen it described as) was by Hugo Rignold on Lyrita. It is due out in November 2007.

Have just ordered the Symphony by Dunhill on Dutton with Arnell's "Lord Byron Portrait" should be an interesting disc.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #59 on: October 26, 2007, 06:21:43 AM »
Dundonnell - I also have problems with the recording priorities of some British record labels. I could go without ANY turn of the century academic stuff, but it could at least be kept to a minimum for a while - there is a lot of hardly recorded repertoire from the middle of the century (and later) which has passion to knock that stuff dead... But it does seem that the better music requires playing that is above routine - and routine playing suits the academics just fine, so they get recorded :P

As OK as composers like Stanford are, I just can't see the point in recording MORE of his chamber music at the expense of an inspired genius such as Finzi, or somebody, who don't even have their whole output recorded :-\

Could not agree more! Frankly, I would rather that we could access more of the music-for example-of Havergal Brian, Alan Bush, Arnold Cooke, Peter Racine Fricker, Iain Hamilton, Alun Hoddinott, Daniel Jones, John McCabe and William Wordsworth, to mention some of the more demanding but still accessible  20th century British composers than amiable but essentially romantic offcuts like York Bowen(for whom there is an apparent vogue at the moment!).

The additional info' that the works I mentioned earlier planned by Cameo Classics are to be recorded in Belarus does not give me much confidence. That may be-and I hope it is-totally unfair! However....