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1  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Anthony Hedges (1931-2019) on: June 23, 2019, 04:01:59 pm
I note the death of a British composer who has suffered serious neglect: Anthony Hedges.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/hedges/index.htm

Hedges's Symphony No.1 is available in our British Music Archive. His Symphony No.2 has never been performed.

Hedges worked at the University of Hull and this "regional isolation" certainly seems to have worked to his disadvantage. He was the sort of composer championed by the late Bryden Thomson but since Thomson's death very few conductors have had the interest, dedication and influence to get music by these conductors performed by BBC regional orchestras.
2  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Joseph Holbrooke from CPO on: June 21, 2019, 05:53:11 pm
I respect the views of those who have enjoyed the new disc. I also appreciate the observations about Holbrooke's orchestration. There is indeed much to enjoy in the music.

The problem for me is related to expectations of the Symphony. If a work is called a symphony and if it is in essence a programme symphony then I expect it to deliver. Obviously that does not necessarily mean in the classical definition of symphonic form but at least as a work of real substance. Strauss's Alpine Symphony or RVW's London Symphony or Sinfonia Antarctica deliver genuine power, substance and programmatic evocation.

Sadly, I think Holbrooke aims too high. The fact that the work was alternatively titled suggests some confusion in the composer's own mind which ships and which time he is thinking of. The cd cover picture does depict warships of World War One and given the date of composition of the symphony it seems clear that we are being invited to think of the vessels of that time. If that is the case then the first movement in particular needs to conjure up vistas of imposing power and strength and that it fails to achieve to my ears. The music is attractive and pleasant and certainly demonstrates the skill in orchestration already mentioned. And had Holbrooke more modest designs and expectations both of himself and for his listeners then, as a Suite, the work would work perfectly well. But, as a programme symphony I feel that it fails to achieve the drama, the power, the evocative magic that other composers might have achieved with a similar subject.

I derive absolutely no pleasure from my sense of disappointment with the work. Holbrooke's earlier compositions, and in particular those inspired by Poe, the Gothic melodrama, work extremely well. He achieves what he sets out to do. I am just not convinced that in this symphony he did so. Perhaps I expected too much? Listening to the music freed from the programmatic subtext might well be a better way to tackle the listening experience.

But of course this is a personal response to the music. The enthusiastic response of others should not and will not be diminished by my reservations.
3  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Violin Concertos, 1943-2009 on: June 20, 2019, 11:48:40 am
A more "restrained" response would be helpful😉You will, I hope, note the inclusion of the violin concerto by a certain Bourgeois
4  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / SOME unrecorded British Violin Concertos, 1943-2009 on: June 19, 2019, 06:52:04 pm

Can I begin by emphasising that this is not a definitive list and that it is very much a personal selection.

The recent news of the recording of the William Wordsworth Violin Concerto provided the incentive for this list of 23 unrecorded violin concertos.

1943: Stanley Bate No.2
          Ruth Gipps
1947-50:Stanley Bate No.3
1948: Sir Eugene Goossens Phantasy Concerto
1950: Grace Williams
1952: Franz Reizenstein
1953-54:Peter Racine Fricker No.2 (Rhapsodia Concertante)
1954: John Joubert
1958: Arnold Cooke
1959: John McCabe No.1 "Sinfonia Concertante"
          Robert Simpson
1960: Alun Hoddinott No.1
1966: Daniel Jones
1969: Robert Still
1972: Iain Hamilton No.2 "Amphion"
1978: Arthur Butterworth
1980: John McCabe No.2
1992: William Mathias
1995: Alun Hoddinott No.2 "Mistral"
1992: Wilfred Josephs
2002: Derek Bourgeois
2003-04:Hugh Wood No.2
2009: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies No.2 "Fiddler on the Shore"

(There are of course others by composers like Denis ApIvor, Ronald Stevenson, Malcolm Lipkin and David Ellis.)
5  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 18, 2019, 04:47:49 pm
Weinberg completed twenty one numbered symphonies (No.22 was unfinished by the composer but has been completed and recorded) and four chamber symphonies.  Some of the symphonies were issued by Olympia from recordings made by the state-owned Melodiya company in the former USSR. Since then Chandos and Naxos have between them recorded most of the symphonies.

The general consensus however is that Weinberg was one of the most distinguished of the immediate post-Shostakovich generation of symphonists. There are many neglected composers who have been ignored by both Chandos and Naxos. "Selling" Bourgeois to either would be a difficult task, I am afraid.
6  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 18, 2019, 02:42:48 pm
I too hope that Bourgeois's day will come. You mention Havergal Brian and Rued Langgaard. As far as Brian is concerned the rediscovery of his music began towards the end of his very long life and was inspired by the promotion of the music by his passionate advocate the composer Robert Simpson. Simpson was, at that time, a BBC Music Producer and used that position to get Brian's symphonies performed and broadcast. Since then the dedicated support and financial power of the Havergal Brian Society has enormously facilitated the recording of the music.

What is required to revive a neglected composer's music is a combination of factors. It helps if the music is broacast. In the UK that means that the BBC has to demonstrate an interest. BBC music producers have to be aware of the composer's existence and willing to push for broadcast performances. There have to be conductors willing to learn the music. This is less likely nowadays when there are fewer British conductors regularly conducting regional orchestras.

Record companies are also crucial. The reality again nowadays is that companies like to record a series of a composer's music. This is where the sheer number of Bourgeois's symphonies works to his disadvantage. Had he composed a dozen or so then he would have more appeal to a label which might show some interest.

It is, sadly, not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the music but is more to do with the interest/support of those who have the required influence. This is the difficulty Bourgeois faces.

Harsh reality......but never give up!
7  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 17, 2019, 09:21:43 pm
.....and I am aware that Aulis Sallinen is still alive and might well have claims on the status of pre-eminence!
8  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 17, 2019, 04:54:31 pm
The problem with the concept is that while Aho is probably Finland's most prominent living composer and certainly the most recorded Bourgeois had been virtually ignored since his first half dozen or so symphonies. The idea of a whole concert of hia music was perhaps a bit unrealistic.

......but clearly neglect did not deter Bourgeois- which was entirely admirable of course.
9  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 17, 2019, 02:21:49 pm
Many thanks for your offer much appreciated! However, Colin / Dundonnell has meanwhile offered his help in buying the CD, so all is fine. Anyway, great to have fellow collectors around who are willing to help! Smiley

I have ordered the cd from the ebay seller. Always happy to reciprocate Smiley
10  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Stanford on Hyperion in August and SOMM in September on: June 17, 2019, 02:18:22 pm
Holger is perfectly correct. I had missed the Irish Concertino, op. 161. I have added it to my list. Many thanks!
11  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 17, 2019, 02:12:57 pm
It is interesting to note from recent posts that despite Amphissa's reservations there are a number of concertos by composers I orginally named which do seem to interest at least some members on here........although not perhaps enough to initiate a commercial bandwagon Grin
12  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 17, 2019, 02:10:32 pm
Thank you for this.

As I understand it the Piano Concerto is part of the Symphony No.65 which is intended to play as a concert-with an Overture, Concerto and Symphony. Did Bourgeois want all three components to be played in sequence or sanction the individual elements to be performed quite independently? I suspect we do not know.

But whatever is the case I am happy to acknowledge that there is a Piano Concerto (albeit within a symphonic context).
13  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Stanford on Hyperion in August and SOMM in September on: June 12, 2019, 04:44:41 pm
Wonderful news! Now that almost all his orchestral music is recorded (some of it more than once), it's great to see the choral and even operatic music finding its way to us. Maybe The Critic will be available before I'm too old to hear it.

You might be interested to know which purely orchestral music Stanford composed which has NOT been recorded:

1881:      Serenade for orchestra in G major, op.18: 25 minutes   *
1895:      Suite of Ancient Dances for orchestra, op.58: 15 minutes    *
1903:      Four Irish Dances for orchestra, op.89
1908:      Installation March for military band, op.108
1917-18: An Irish Concertino for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, op.161: 19 minutes  *
1921:      Variations for Violin and Orchestra, op.180
14  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Stanford on Hyperion in August and SOMM in September on: June 11, 2019, 02:08:58 pm
I entirely agree with Albion! A very well thought out programme - as one would expect from any involvement of the Stanford expert Jeremy Dibble.
Who would have thought a few years ago that there would be such a revival of Stanford's choral music?
15  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: SOME unrecorded British Piano Concertos, 1934-94 on: June 10, 2019, 11:59:12 pm
My apologies for taking so long to respond to the last two posts. I have been very busy preparing for a visit to London and for the (non-musical) research I will be conducting at a museum in the city.

I shall not bore members by re-stating my position. I have already done so at considerable length. I apologise if I misinterpreted what was written by relm1 and by Amphissa.

With regard to the music of Derek Bourgeois, I have in previous posts acknowledged both the neglect suffered by Bourgeois and the need to record at least some of his music. As far as I am aware-and I may of course be wrong- Bourgeois did not actually write a Piano Concerto. As far as his symphonies are concerned any list of neglected or unrecorded music which included Bourgeois's compositions would, perforce, spread over several separate posts. Such a list would be "unmanageably" long. That is the only reason why I omitted him-with sincere regret-from any lists I have posted.

Amphissa makes some valid points regarding both personal taste and subjective judgment. I would point out however that the composers on my Piano Concerto list are all, to varying extents, already represented on disc. Indeed, of the fifteen composers listed eight have already had one or more of their piano concertos recorded.
No one would argue-and I certainly would not-that these concertos are all "undiscovered masterpieces". But the fact that record labels have actually already invested in putting some of these composers' music on disc does suggest that there is a market (albeit a small market) for that music.

However it would probably be better if we left it at that and agreed to disagree (if or where we do Smiley).
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