Author Topic: The British Composers Thread  (Read 167261 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #960 on: May 15, 2021, 06:30:08 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(!)
V much agree with your comments on Cato's post. Perhaps I should get the new Lyrita Simpson disc, although I have both those symphonies on Hyperion (but I don't recall them making much impression on me). I had another round with No.9 a while back and enjoyed it more than before. I want to sample the Hyperion CD featuring symphonies 2 and 4 next. The ones I do admire are Boult's recording of Symphony No.1 and Horenstein's of Symphony No.3.
"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 #961 on: May 15, 2021, 11:08:05 AM »
Again, as I anticipated, these are so useful. Thank you.

I've very much enjoyed Bate 4, as recommended earlier in this thread and like it a great deal. I've also listened to the Wordsworth for the first time, and look forward to getting to know it better. The first movement certainly stayed with me. Simpson, I need to revisit, as it's been at least 5 years since I played anything if his. Thanks, Cato, for your help.

I do wish I was more than a total musical amateur, but if greatness is connected in any way to repeatable memorability, then each of the symphonists flagged by Vandermolen and Symphony Addict seem great to me. I don't know Alwyn or Arnell as well as I should, however. I have something of a habit of running down rabbit holes of personal interest, and missing out on core repertoire that others know well. I remember Sean once castigating me for that. Such has been the case with knowing Rubbra really well, but mostly missing out on Walton and Britten.

Valuing all of your wisdom, as ever, and trying hard to learn and catch up with all I've neglected!
« Last Edit: May 15, 2021, 11:12:38 AM by foxandpeng »
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #962 on: May 15, 2021, 08:11:27 PM »
I have something of a habit of running down rabbit holes of personal interest, and missing out on core repertoire that others know well.

Oh, this works fine for me; I’m happy as long as I’m finding music I enjoy.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #963 on: May 15, 2021, 10:57:07 PM »
Again, as I anticipated, these are so useful. Thank you.

I've very much enjoyed Bate 4, as recommended earlier in this thread and like it a great deal. I've also listened to the Wordsworth for the first time, and look forward to getting to know it better. The first movement certainly stayed with me. Simpson, I need to revisit, as it's been at least 5 years since I played anything if his. Thanks, Cato, for your help.

I do wish I was more than a total musical amateur, but if greatness is connected in any way to repeatable memorability, then each of the symphonists flagged by Vandermolen and Symphony Addict seem great to me. I don't know Alwyn or Arnell as well as I should, however. I have something of a habit of running down rabbit holes of personal interest, and missing out on core repertoire that others know well. I remember Sean once castigating me for that. Such has been the case with knowing Rubbra really well, but mostly missing out on Walton and Britten.

Valuing all of your wisdom, as ever, and trying hard to learn and catch up with all I've neglected!
Glad you enjoyed the Bate. If you don't already know it, you must hear his Third Symphony, also on the same CD is Chisholm's terrific 'Pictures from Dante', which I'd also strongly recommend, along with Arnell's 3rd and 5th symphonies.
"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 #964 on: May 18, 2021, 04:52:14 PM »
I had some time today and listened to the Robert Simpson Symphony #5, which can best be described as a creature created with the help of musical DNA from Charles Ives, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, and Prokofiev. 8)

Yes, that is a recommendation!   0:)



<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/om1AU1brhU0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/om1AU1brhU0</a>
« Last Edit: May 18, 2021, 04:55:15 PM by Cato »
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #965 on: May 26, 2021, 11:54:07 PM »
Just had a quicl look at this Summer's Proms prospectus.  Pretty good for once for British music.  For me stand out highlights include Ruth Gipps' Symphony No.2 and Malcolm Arnold No.5 (not in the same concert!) as well as a programme of British composer film music.  Coupled with the Arnold is the Walton Viola Concerto - so a nice programme there.  Stand-out non-British is John Wilson and his Sinfonia of London playing the Korngold Symphony which should be proverbially blistering if their recording is anything to go by!  Also a concert featuring the Coleridge-Taylor Symphony

Offline kyjo

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #966 on: May 27, 2021, 06:07:52 AM »
Just had a quicl look at this Summer's Proms prospectus.  Pretty good for once for British music.  For me stand out highlights include Ruth Gipps' Symphony No.2 and Malcolm Arnold No.5 (not in the same concert!) as well as a programme of British composer film music.  Coupled with the Arnold is the Walton Viola Concerto - so a nice programme there.  Stand-out non-British is John Wilson and his Sinfonia of London playing the Korngold Symphony which should be proverbially blistering if their recording is anything to go by!  Also a concert featuring the Coleridge-Taylor Symphony

I would love to hear Arnold’s 5th or Korngold’s Symphony live (especially with John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London - their recording is incredible!) - two of my favorite symphonies of all time!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #967 on: May 27, 2021, 09:15:31 PM »
I would love to hear Arnold’s 5th or Korngold’s Symphony live (especially with John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London - their recording is incredible!) - two of my favorite symphonies of all time!
I've seen Arnold's 5th Symphony live - at the same all Arnold concert where I managed to get the composer to sign my programme - it was a most memorable evening.
"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 #968 on: May 27, 2021, 09:19:53 PM »
Just had a quicl look at this Summer's Proms prospectus.  Pretty good for once for British music.  For me stand out highlights include Ruth Gipps' Symphony No.2 and Malcolm Arnold No.5 (not in the same concert!) as well as a programme of British composer film music.  Coupled with the Arnold is the Walton Viola Concerto - so a nice programme there.  Stand-out non-British is John Wilson and his Sinfonia of London playing the Korngold Symphony which should be proverbially blistering if their recording is anything to go by!  Also a concert featuring the Coleridge-Taylor Symphony
Interesting! I may have got this wrong but wasn't it you who commented that John Wilson was not an especially rewarding conductor to work with? Apologies if I've mixed you up with someone else.
I love Walton's Viola Concerto; IMO a much better work than the Violin Concerto and I love Korngold's Symphony, although I prefer the Previn to the Wilson recording (good as it is).
"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 Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #969 on: May 27, 2021, 11:52:10 PM »
Interesting! I may have got this wrong but wasn't it you who commented that John Wilson was not an especially rewarding conductor to work with? Apologies if I've mixed you up with someone else.
I love Walton's Viola Concerto; IMO a much better work than the Violin Concerto and I love Korngold's Symphony, although I prefer the Previn to the Wilson recording (good as it is).

You are right - I always found him rather irritating.  Not a string player telling string players how to play!  Also, his beat is not great - oddly stiff - which when you come in as an extra player and sit at the back of a string section makes things harder.  That said - there have been MANY truly great conductors who have had AWFUL stick techniques - Furtwangler/Del Mar/Barbirolli (apparently).  Unless you belong to that elite of conductors who inspire players in an almost telepathic supernatural way, what an orchestra need most from a conductor is clarity - both of musical intent and also simple technique.  Most of the time you are looking down at the notes so what you can see of the stick is peripheral (that's why I HATE symphonic conductors who don't use a stick so there's almost nothing peripheral!) so you need what you can see on the edge of your vision to be clear and unmistakeable.

I think Berglund didn't use a stick and clearly he was a genius - so what do I know! (or was he a left handed conductor?)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #970 on: May 28, 2021, 12:22:54 AM »
You are right - I always found him rather irritating.  Not a string player telling string players how to play!  Also, his beat is not great - oddly stiff - which when you come in as an extra player and sit at the back of a string section makes things harder.  That said - there have been MANY truly great conductors who have had AWFUL stick techniques - Furtwangler/Del Mar/Barbirolli (apparently).  Unless you belong to that elite of conductors who inspire players in an almost telepathic supernatural way, what an orchestra need most from a conductor is clarity - both of musical intent and also simple technique.  Most of the time you are looking down at the notes so what you can see of the stick is peripheral (that's why I HATE symphonic conductors who don't use a stick so there's almost nothing peripheral!) so you need what you can see on the edge of your vision to be clear and unmistakeable.

I think Berglund didn't use a stick and clearly he was a genius - so what do I know! (or was he a left handed conductor?)
Thanks. According to one of my school colleagues who works in the Music Dept. Ashkenazy was an exceptionally nice person to work with and an excellent conductor. I've glanced at the Prom programme online (I shouldn't as I am at work!) Not that many of the concerts appealed to me. I like the look of the Walton/Arnold concert and may well try to get to that one. I like Respighi's 'Concerto Gregoriano' very much and when I first heard it, on the radio, I thought that it must be by an English composer such as Finzi. However, I'm not that interested in the other works in the concert and I'm not sure that I'm prepared to sit through Die Fledermaus to get to the Korngold Symphony. The other concert that greatly appealed to me was the one of British Film Music including Vaughan William's 'Three Portraits from the England of Elizabeth' and Malcolm Arnold's St Trinian's music etc.
"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 Alex Bozman

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #971 on: August 22, 2021, 12:43:26 PM »
Hugh Wood died on 14th August at the age of 89. He doesn't seem to have earned a thread to himself. There are some recordings of his works, my personal favourites being the Cello Concerto, Piano Concerto and the Pablo Neruda song-cycle, which still awaits a recording. It's hard to categorise his music, with a number of influences including jazz coming to the fore in different pieces.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #972 on: September 22, 2021, 04:28:52 PM »
Hi everyone

When I completed my transcription of the Simpson Variations and Fugue on a Theme of J S Bach I opined that it joins the notable list of compositions by British composers for string orchestra in the C20.

I just jotted down quickly off the top of my head those works that I am aware of (in rough chronological order of composer birth). I hope others can suggest other works to add to the list

Introduction and Allegro for Strings
Elegy
Sospiri

Vaughan Williams
Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
Partita for Double String Orchestra
Concerto Grosso

Holst
Brook Green Suite (version for strings alone)
St Paul’s Suite
Nocturne

Bridge
Lament
Suite for Strings

Ireland (arr)
Downland Suite

Kelly
In Memoriam Rupert Brooke

Howells
Elegy for Viola and String Orchestra
Concerto for String Orchestra
Suite for Strings

Finzi
Prelude for Strings
Romance for Strings

Walton
Two Pieces from Henry V

Bliss
Music for Strings

Maconchy
Theme and Variations for Strings
Symphony for Double String Orchestra
Music for Strings

Britten
Simple Symphony
Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge

Tippett
Concerto for Double String Orchestra
Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli
Little Music for Strings

Grace Williams
Elegy
Sea Sketches

Simpson
Allegro Deciso (version of final movement of String Quartet #3)
Variations and Fugue on a Theme of J S Bach

David Matthews
Variations on Bach’s Chorale Die Nacht ist Kommen

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #973 on: September 22, 2021, 08:03:21 PM »
Hi everyone

When I completed my transcription of the Simpson Variations and Fugue on a Theme of J S Bach I opined that it joins the notable list of compositions by British composers for string orchestra in the C20.

I just jotted down quickly off the top of my head those works that I am aware of (in rough chronological order of composer birth). I hope others can suggest other works to add to the list

Introduction and Allegro for Strings
Elegy
Sospiri

Vaughan Williams
Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
Partita for Double String Orchestra
Concerto Grosso

Holst
Brook Green Suite (version for strings alone)
St Paul’s Suite
Nocturne

Bridge
Lament
Suite for Strings

Ireland (arr)
Downland Suite

Kelly
In Memoriam Rupert Brooke

Howells
Elegy for Viola and String Orchestra
Concerto for String Orchestra
Suite for Strings

Finzi
Prelude for Strings
Romance for Strings

Walton
Two Pieces from Henry V

Bliss
Music for Strings

Maconchy
Theme and Variations for Strings
Symphony for Double String Orchestra
Music for Strings

Britten
Simple Symphony
Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge

Tippett
Concerto for Double String Orchestra
Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli
Little Music for Strings

Grace Williams
Elegy
Sea Sketches

Simpson
Allegro Deciso (version of final movement of String Quartet #3)
Variations and Fugue on a Theme of J S Bach

David Matthews
Variations on Bach’s Chorale Die Nacht ist Kommen
I especially like Lennox Berkeley's 'Serenade for Strings' which featured on the recent Chandos CD of English Music for Strings.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2021, 08:06:16 PM 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 Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #974 on: September 23, 2021, 12:33:20 AM »
Love Berkeley's "Serenade".

Two more, Ireland's Concerto Pastorale and a particular favourite, Capriol Suite by Warlock.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #975 on: September 23, 2021, 03:23:28 AM »
Out of curiosity, are there many works for string orchestra--in particular--works which have been *transcribed for string orchestra outside of the UK?  Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it seems to me to be very much a British thing.  Or perhaps I've had too many British music friends for too long and I've been brainwashed into thinking that.  ;)

*and is this still done much these days?

PD

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #976 on: September 23, 2021, 05:02:16 AM »
There is SO MUCH Bristish string orchestra music.  For starters (and this is far from comprehensive) look at the 5 volumes of Naxos "English String Miniatures" (which includes the far from miniature Haydn Wood Fantasy Concerto for example) or the recent 3 volumes on CPO conducted by Doublas Bostock.  After that there are numerous suites by the likes of Thomas Dunhill, Alec Rowley etc etc.  Its a very rich field indeed ranging from the major to the minor with all points between.  But so much of it is a total delight both to hear and play........

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #977 on: September 23, 2021, 08:24:25 AM »
There is SO MUCH Bristish string orchestra music.  For starters (and this is far from comprehensive) look at the 5 volumes of Naxos "English String Miniatures" (which includes the far from miniature Haydn Wood Fantasy Concerto for example) or the recent 3 volumes on CPO conducted by Doublas Bostock.  After that there are numerous suites by the likes of Thomas Dunhill, Alec Rowley etc etc.  Its a very rich field indeed ranging from the major to the minor with all points between.  But so much of it is a total delight both to hear and play........
Nice!  And thanks for the suggestions!

You might have missed my original question though?  What I was wondering was basically, 1)  Is music for string orchestra (or music transcribed for string orchestra) a particularly British thing?  2)  Is it still common to write for string orchestra--or do transcriptions for s.o.?  3)  Was there a particular heyday for it too?

PD

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #978 on: September 23, 2021, 08:37:59 AM »
Nice!  And thanks for the suggestions!

You might have missed my original question though?  What I was wondering was basically, 1)  Is music for string orchestra (or music transcribed for string orchestra) a particularly British thing?  2)  Is it still common to write for string orchestra--or do transcriptions for s.o.?  3)  Was there a particular heyday for it too?

PD

If you include the string quartet format there was a huge amount of transcribing/publishing of "editions".  Often aimed at the amateur/educational market these would be arrangements of Bach/Handel/Boyce/ etc but I don't see this as an especially British field.  My interest is in British music and composers so I am aware of mainly that strand of arranging but I don't think it is by any means unique.  In the UK my best guess is that the heyday was inter-War with it leaking into post-war when ensembles like Boyd Neal provided a vehicle/inspiration for composers.  Yes it is still common - look no further than relatively recent arrangements of Elgar (Organ Sonata and String Quartet) or Arnold (2nd Quartet) for string orchestra.  The Orchestra of the Swan seem very active at creating new repertoire generally......

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #979 on: September 23, 2021, 08:40:20 AM »
If you include the string quartet format there was a huge amount of transcribing/publishing of "editions".  Often aimed at the amateur/educational market these would be arrangements of Bach/Handel/Boyce/ etc but I don't see this as an especially British field.  My interest is in British music and composers so I am aware of mainly that strand of arranging but I don't think it is by any means unique.  In the UK my best guess is that the heyday was inter-War with it leaking into post-war when ensembles like Boyd Neal provided a vehicle/inspiration for composers.  Yes it is still common - look no further than relatively recent arrangements of Elgar (Organ Sonata and String Quartet) or Arnold (2nd Quartet) for string orchestra.  The Orchestra of the Swan seem very active at creating new repertoire generally......
Thank you for your thoughts and comments R.S.!  :)

PD