Author Topic: The British Composers Thread  (Read 167956 times)

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Offline André

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #940 on: April 26, 2021, 10:22:29 AM »
Thanks for the reminder, Jeffrey. I had ordered the SQ disc because Dutton Vocalion sold it at a bargain basement price. Now that I’m reassured about his chamber music I’ll put this other disc on the watch list  :).

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #941 on: April 26, 2021, 10:22:08 PM »
A first listen to Arnell's 1st and 6th symphonies. Quite different in concept, I enjoyed the controlled and understated but real sense of symphonic thought of the first. Much more crash, bang and wallop in the 6th,"The Anvil" is an apt title. The 6th seemed to be over soon as it started, I checked the movement timings 0.53 - 3.27 - 2.31 - 7.08 which explains why.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #942 on: April 26, 2021, 10:26:52 PM »
A first listen to Arnell's 1st and 6th symphonies. Quite different in concept, I enjoyed the controlled and understated but real sense of symphonic thought of the first. Much more crash, bang and wallop in the 6th,"The Anvil" is an apt title. The 6th seemed to be over soon as it started, I checked the movement timings 0.53 - 3.27 - 2.31 - 7.08 which explains why.
I enjoy that CD but symphonies 3 and 5 are the ones that I hold in the highest regard. No.3 is an epic.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline relm1

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #943 on: April 27, 2021, 04:33:41 AM »
I enjoy that CD but symphonies 3 and 5 are the ones that I hold in the highest regard. No.3 is an epic.

What do you think of Arnell's No. 7?

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #944 on: April 27, 2021, 07:17:30 AM »
What do you think of Arnell's No. 7?
Is that the Nelson Mandela one?
If so, it didn't make as much impression as the earlier ones.

My order of preference would be:
3,5,4,2,6,1,7

Actually, I need to re-hear 2 and 6.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 07:19:01 AM by vandermolen »
"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 relm1

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #945 on: April 27, 2021, 03:32:57 PM »
Is that the Nelson Mandela one?
If so, it didn't make as much impression as the earlier ones.

My order of preference would be:
3,5,4,2,6,1,7

Actually, I need to re-hear 2 and 6.

I think so but it was also completed by martin yates.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #946 on: April 27, 2021, 09:52:50 PM »
I think so but it was also completed by martin yates.
Yes, you are right. Here it is. That CD is definitely worth having for the terrific 4th Symphony by Stanley Bate:
"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 relm1

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #947 on: May 11, 2021, 04:44:54 AM »
Has anyone checked out this recording yet?  Any thoughts?


Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #948 on: May 11, 2021, 06:00:46 AM »
Has anyone checked out this recording yet?  Any thoughts?


Not yet. So far, Symphony No.2 is my favourite.
"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 foxandpeng

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #949 on: May 14, 2021, 06:33:59 AM »
If you were recommending a definitive top five British symphonists to a complete amateur (me, despite some years of listening), who would they be?

I'm less concerned about which recording cycle is the finest, and why, and more about gaining a true glimpse of who are the real greats for the music alone. Forgive me if this has been done more than once. I've been much in Malcolm Arnold in the last fortnight or so, and have been prodding RVW and Bax. Having been here a while, I know I need to get a handle on Brian.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2021, 06:36:58 AM by foxandpeng »
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Offline kyjo

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #950 on: May 14, 2021, 06:49:31 AM »
My five favorite British symphonists would be RVW, Lloyd, Bax, Arnold, and Alwyn (in that order). If you’re asking for “greatest” (in the most objective sense possible) I’d probably replace Lloyd and Alwyn with Rubbra and Brian. I adore Elgar’s and Walton’s two symphonies but I’m not sure they qualify as “symphonists”.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #951 on: May 14, 2021, 07:57:33 AM »
My five favorite British symphonists would be RVW, Lloyd, Bax, Arnold, and Alwyn (in that order). If you’re asking for “greatest” (in the most objective sense possible) I’d probably replace Lloyd and Alwyn with Rubbra and Brian. I adore Elgar’s and Walton’s two symphonies but I’m not sure they qualify as “symphonists”.

Good list and suggestions all.  I would include Elgar and Walton - what their symphonies lack in quantity is made up for in quality (and if just 2 Symphonies are enugh to qualify I love thepair of Bliss symphonies as well - Colour and Morning Heroes).  Hard to ignore Robert Simpson as one of the greatest specifically symphonists.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #952 on: May 14, 2021, 08:10:03 AM »
Favourites

Vaughan Williams
Bax
Alwyn
Arnell
Bate

Greatest

Vaughan Williams
Elgar
Walton
Havergal Brian
Rubbra
"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 foxandpeng

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #953 on: May 14, 2021, 10:38:59 AM »
These are helpful, thank you. Good to see some expected names and some unexpected. Interesting to see the difference between great and favourite.

Is greatness linked with mastery of the form (which is beyond my understanding at the moment), and consistency?

I'm a big fan of Rubbra, btw. Simpson and Brian, I need to get to know.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #954 on: May 14, 2021, 01:53:53 PM »
My five favorite British symphonists would be RVW, Lloyd, Bax, Arnold, and Alwyn.

I endorse this. The most compelling British symphonists are here.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #955 on: May 15, 2021, 01:34:05 AM »
These are helpful, thank you. Good to see some expected names and some unexpected. Interesting to see the difference between great and favourite.

Is greatness linked with mastery of the form (which is beyond my understanding at the moment), and consistency?

I'm a big fan of Rubbra, btw. Simpson and Brian, I need to get to know.
My technical knowledge of music is zilch but I agree that 'greatness' implies a mastery of form, which may or may not be the case with 'favourites'.

I like Simpson's 1st and 3rd symphonies, for example, but his music strikes me as 'all structure' and unmemorable content (others will disagree). The greatest composers (IMO) integrate their command of structure with memorable musical content.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2021, 01:39:57 AM by vandermolen »
"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 vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #956 on: May 15, 2021, 01:40:58 AM »
These are helpful, thank you. Good to see some expected names and some unexpected. Interesting to see the difference between great and favourite.

Is greatness linked with mastery of the form (which is beyond my understanding at the moment), and consistency?

I'm a big fan of Rubbra, btw. Simpson and Brian, I need to get to know.
Try Stanley Bate's 3rd and 4th symphonies.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2021, 01:42:34 AM by vandermolen »
"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 Cato

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #957 on: May 15, 2021, 02:54:49 AM »
My technical knowledge of music is zilch but I agree that 'greatness' implies a mastery of form, which may or may not be the case with 'favourites'.

I like Simpson's 1st and 3rd symphonies, for example, but his music strikes me as 'all structure' and unmemorable content (others will disagree).

The greatest composers (IMO) integrate their command of structure with memorable musical content.



Amen to both ideas!  0:)

Your mention of Robert Simpson brings back assorted memories, but first...

Somewhere recently here on GMG (I cannot find it now, of course!) someone mentioned the existence of an American disdain of British composers.  I must admit that this attitude was evident even in my high-school days (c. 1965) among us adolescent classical music experts.  :D    Where it could have come from I do not know. (Those wars between 1776 and 1815?   ;)   )   

I remember quite clearly, however, that the general opinion was that only two British composers were deserving of the word "great," namely Handel  ;)  and Elgar!   Our discussions and explorations were almost entirely of the 19th-century German and Russian composers (one of the crew had a predilection for Spanish composers like Albeniz, which was considered a tolerable aberration  ;)  ).  Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Henry Purcell et al. were barely noticed at all.

Benjamin Britten of course was in his prime: I recall one of our group investing in his cantata Noye's Fludde and extolling its merits.  Others  - following Stravinsky's severe dislike of Britten's War Requiem - found it of little interest.  (I must revisit those works soon!)   This same young man also pushed the Things to Come Suite of Bliss and some symphonies of Vaughan Williams, but these were not considered "great works." 

For modern music Charles Ives was all the rage (died not even a decade earlier), along with Gunther Schuller (but NOT Leonard Bernstein, who was considered, like Gershwin, an interloping poseur from Broadway), but otherwise the German and Russian composers of the 20th Century dominated:  Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Schoenberg, Hindemith, Hartmann, Henze, Stockhausen, etc. 

Robert Simpson was of interest to me because of his wonderful book about Anton Bruckner, viz.  The Essence of Bruckner.  Recordings of his symphonies were, unfortunately either unavailable or had not yet been made.  When I was in college, I came across a score of one his symphonies, maybe two of them: reading through it, I felt some interest, but not very much.  I suppose I was expecting a neo-Brucknerian aspect, but shrugged that every composer had to be himself (or herself), and not an imitation of Bruckner.  Many years ago I had the opportunity to hear one of his symphonies on the radio, and it did not leave too much of an impression.

So I should give the man another chance, but I suspect Vandermolen's opinion above will also be mine.

Anyway, everyone will be glad to know that my local classical music station here in central Ohio is now FULL of British composers!  Practically every British composer mentioned here receives a hearing: I would almost say that British composers dominate their playlists, at least at the times when I am listening.

So Handel and Elgar must move over and make room for Alwyn, Rubbra, and Company!   8)


« Last Edit: May 15, 2021, 03:45:59 AM by Cato »
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #958 on: May 15, 2021, 04:01:52 AM »
Amen to both ideas!  0:)

Your mention of Robert Simpson brings back assorted memories, but first...

Somewhere recently here on GMG (I cannot find it now, of course!) someone mentioned the existence of an American disdain of British composers.  I must admit that this attitude was evident even in my high-school days (c. 1965) among us adolescent classical music experts.  :D    Where it could have come from I do not know. (Those wars between 1776 and 1815?   ;)   )   

I remember quite clearly, however, that the general opinion was that only two British composers were deserving of the word "great," namely Handel  ;)  and Elgar!   Our discussions and explorations were almost entirely of the 19th-century German and Russian composers (one of the crew had a predilection for Spanish composers like Albeniz, which was considered a tolerable aberration  ;)  ).  Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Henry Purcell et al. were barely noticed at all.

Benjamin Britten of course was in his prime: I recall one of our group investing in his cantata Noye's Fludde and extolling its merits.  Others  - following Stravinsky's severe dislike of Britten's War Requiem - found it of little interest.  (I must revisit those works soon!)   This same young man also pushed the Things to Come Suite of Bliss and some symphonies of Vaughan Williams, but these were not considered "great works." 

For modern music Charles Ives was all the rage (died not even a decade earlier), along with Gunther Schuller (but NOT Leonard Bernstein, who was considered, like Gershwin, an interloping poseur from Broadway), but otherwise the German and Russian composers of the 20th Century dominated:  Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Schoenberg, Hindemith, Hartmann, Henze, Stockhausen, etc. 

Robert Simpson was of interest to me because of his wonderful book about Anton Bruckner, viz.  The Essence of Bruckner.  Recordings of his symphonies were, unfortunately either unavailable or had not yet been made.  When I was in college, I came across a score of one his symphonies, maybe two of them: reading through it, I felt some interest, but not very much.  I suppose I was expecting a neo-Brucknerian aspect, but shrugged that every composer had to be himself (or herself), and not an imitation of Bruckner.  Many years ago I had the opportunity to hear one of his symphonies on the radio, and it did not leave too much of an impression.

So I should give the man another chance, but I suspect Vandermolen's opinion above will also be mine.

Anyway, everyone will be glad to know that my local classical music station here in central Ohio is now FULL of British composers!  Practically every British composer mentioned here receives a hearing: I would almost say that British composers dominate their playlists, at least at the times when I am listening.

So Handel and Elgar must move over and make room for Alwyn, Rubbra, and Company!   8)

Great and fascinating post Cato!  With Simpson, I do tend to agree with your earlier impression and Vandermolen's - a respectful admiration rather than a visceral overwhelming "wow!"  But that said the recent Lyrita release of the two premieres of his Symphonies 5&6 did make a significant impact.  The performance there of No.5 DOES blaze and is imperiously played by the LSO in full blood-lust mode.  I still struggle with Symphony No.9 which I know I should like more(!)

Offline Cato

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #959 on: May 15, 2021, 04:54:24 AM »
Great and fascinating post Cato!  With Simpson, I do tend to agree with your earlier impression and Vandermolen's - a respectful admiration rather than a visceral overwhelming "wow!" 

But that said the recent Lyrita release of the two premieres of his Symphonies 5&6 did make a significant impact.  The performance there of No.5 DOES blaze and is imperiously played by the LSO in full blood-lust mode.  I still struggle with Symphony No.9 which I know I should like more(!)

Many thanks for responding! So I will now definitely look into Symphony #5 and the others!
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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