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1  Little-known music of all eras / Wish lists and requests / Re: Vitezslav Novák's Symphonies on: August 02, 2019, 01:22:30 am
As is, unfortunately, his habit Greg K spoils his argument by his use of language chosen either deliberately to offend or accidentally having that effect.

He makes a point in relation to his perception of the musical merits of the Novak symphonies. Despite the sound quality of the off-air recordings available to us he is able to determine that the music is, in his opinion, mediocre in quality and therefore not worthy of being recorded. That is a valid position to adopt. On the evidence which exists these are not masterpieces of Czech music. There is a lot of Czech music which could not be so described which has been recorded. Virtually everything that Martinu, for example, composed has now made it to cd (including very early compositions which do not reflect the composer's later style). These were thought worth recording in order, presumably, to present a fuller picture of Martinu the composer.

What those of us who have an interest in Novak would like is to have the opportunity to hear the symphonies in modern recordings, played with as much conviction as is possible, in order to make up our own minds once and for all.

He spoils his argument by giving gratuitous offence. I have no objection to being called "a completist". It is a perfectly accurate (if not necessarily helpful) description of my attitudes to recording neglected music. To add, however, the word "fanatic" is a different matter.

The word "fanatic" is defined in terms of "excessive". Indeed Greg K, by self-evident implication, goes on to make clear his ability and my inability to "discriminate". By quoting me directly it is perfectly clear to whom the description is intended to apply.

(Apparently Greg K has now accepted his lack of judgment in using the word "fanatics" and has replaced it with "enthusiasts". Most of this post was written in response to his orginal version. He is however incapable of recognising how incredibly patronising it is to refer to his previous "advice" to "re-engage with the music in a critical fashion".)

I have never made any attempt to disguise my enthusiasms. I make no apology for them. I recognise, even if I do not share, the enthusiasms of other members for the music which particularly interests them. I might find some of the music of, let us say for example, certain obscure Ukrainian or Polish or Russian composers "rather mediocre and unmemorable" (to use Greg K's expression). But that would be a personal response I would see no reason to share.

This is not the first time that such comments have been made about such a particular perception of my lack of discrimination, judgment and taste. Indeed it has been a constant refrain which has become tedious in the extreme.

Greg K's last sentence is staggering. Record companies like CPO in Germany or Toccata in the UK issue a monthly batch of new recordings of music by composers, many of whom are completely unknown, music which by no stretch of the imagination is all earth-shatteringly good. Companies like Chandos and Dutton have issued almost every scrap of music (some of it actually discarded by the composers themselves) of music by composers like Bax or Vaughan Williams. These companies, presumably, have a rationale for their release decisions. To suggest that the "listeners" share his perceptions of what is or is not "mediocre and unmemorable" and therefore "not especially worthy of advocacy and revival" is quite astonishing.

To debate endlessly whether or not Greg K's opinions of the merits or, almost inevitably, lack of merit in the music of particular composers are to be taken as having more weight than my desire to have the opportunity to hear the music properly is not an exercise I have the time, energy or inclination to engage upon. He clearly believes that he has a capacity for discrimination which extends far beyond mine and which has to be assumed to override my enthusiasms. He is the arbiter of what is worth recording and what is not.

On that basis further discussion is pointless........
2  Little-known music of all eras / Wish lists and requests / Re: Vitezslav Novák's Symphonies on: July 30, 2019, 11:35:45 pm
I entirely agree that the absence of the two Novak symphonies from the cd repertoire is quite astonishing. It is extraordinary that no record company has taken them up or shows any inclination to do so. Sad!
3  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: Vienna on: July 18, 2019, 12:36:02 am
But should Moscow audiences be expected to have heard of Birtwistle? (I ask objectively, not sarcastically or critically)

I wish I hadn't heard of him Wink (That is a joke of course Smiley)

In response to Neil's post, first of all Sir James MacMillan has done very well in terms of cd releases of his music; most of his works can be obtained commercially. More importantly however, Neil is quite correct in referring to the impossibility of having a comprehensive knowledge of the entire repertoire. I know the names of a very considerable number of composers and have catalogued the orchestral music of hundreds of them. But my knowledge of opera, chamber music, instrumental music is almost non-existent. It has also become clear that there are indeed vast numbers of composers (particularly from Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia) of whom I have never heard. And my "knowledge" of the 20th century composers of orchestral music-which is my particular area of interest-is at best "shallow". I know the names of composers. I have listened to as much of their music as I have had time to do. But "comprehensive knowledge" is not something I could ever claim.

And how much more is this true for executants. They are required to have real, in-depth knowledge of the music they perform. It is impossible for them to know much, if anything, of the music of composers they do not perform. I was shocked when I learned that the conductor of two British symphonies recently released on cd had, previous to being contracted to make the recordings, never heard a single note of that composer's music. Shocked because I had the notion that he had some obligation to have listened to the off-air recordings of the composer's music available here or on You Tube. Was this fair? Of course not! There are only so many hours in a day and only so much of an individual's life which can be devoted to listening to music. If executants have to study the music they are playing-as they obviously do-then a wide knowledge of the repertoire is extremely difficult.

It is for this reason that I so admire those conductors who were continually broadening their repertoire to include the neglected and the obscure.
4  Little-known music of all eras / Coming broadcasts and listen-later links / Re: Christopher Gunning Symphony 2 on: July 18, 2019, 12:10:04 am
Gunning's 2nd Symphony is being broadcast on BBC Radio 3 this afternoon, performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Kenneth Woods.
This is the only early Gunning Symphony  not commercially recorded - is there a chance that anyone could record it and make it available here, please?
Or, might this performance be a prelude to a commercial recording anyway?

Just in case you hadn't noticed- a recording of the broadcast of the Gunning Symphony No.2 has been posted in the Downloads section.
5  Little-known music of all eras / Downloads discussion / Re: British and Irish Music on: July 17, 2019, 12:04:34 am
Through the generosity of PJ I have been able to post links to Christopher Gunning's Symphony No.2.

Should this broadcast be issued commercially the links will be removed.
6  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: David Matthews Symphony No.9 on: July 15, 2019, 05:34:14 pm
I posted on the Musicweb Noticeboard about the non-appearance of the disc containing the Symphony No.8, "A Vision of the Sea" and "Toward Sunrise". In response Ralph Couzens of Chandos posted to say that Chandos had no plans to issue such a disc-this despite the apparent original plan to do so as indicated on the composer's own website in 2016.

In a combination of confusion, embarrassment and alarm I emailed David Matthews to seek clarity. David has just responded.

The cd will be issued by Signum in June 2020.

Although it will be disappointing to have to wait another full year for the disc at least we now have the clarity sought! Why the change of label? David did not say and it would now be best to pass over this in silence.
7  Little-known music of all eras / Discussion of obscure composers / Re: Vienna on: July 15, 2019, 01:48:21 am
Vienna in 1914 was the culturally vibrant capital of a vast multi-national empire. Many of the composers prominent in Vienna in the first two decades of the 20th century were born in parts of that empire lost in 1919. Mahler himself, though from a German-speaking family, was born in Bohemia. Franz Schmidt was born in what is now known as Bratislava in Slovakia. Reznicek was of of mixed Czech-Romanian ancestry.

In 1919 most of that empire was "lost": not just Hungary, but Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Galicia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia. What was left was the tiny German rump which became the Austrian Republic. And of course Vienna did remain a cultural, musical centre but many of the composers who remained were Jewish and many of these found employment across the political border in Weimar Germany. By 1939 most of them had fled from Nazi persecution: Hans Gal, Erich Korngold, Ernst Krenek, Arnold Schoenberg, Ernst Toch, Karl Weigl, Egon Wellesz, Alexander von Zemlinsky and others. Alban Berg died in 1935, Franz Schmidt in 1939, Anton von Webern in 1945.

The Vienna of 1945 was a very different city than in 1914. And you are of course quite correct in saying that very few Austrian composers who survived the tumultuous decades between and who continued to work after 1945 are "household names" to the average concert-goer. This is not however surprising however striking it may be.
8  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Lyrita? on: July 14, 2019, 12:12:43 am
Symphonies Nos.3 and 5 were scheduled for June and Nos. 12 and 13 for November. That was the plan🙄

9  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Lyrita? on: July 11, 2019, 09:19:42 pm
The end of June (2019) has come and gone. A new Daniel Jones CD from Lyrita still seems not to be on the horizon......

Surprise, surprise....this has not gone unnoticed by me Roll Eyes

Yes, June has come and gone and so, apparently, will July.

I have been sorely tempted to point this out on the Musicweb noticeboard. The last time I pointed out the non-appearance of promised cds -some months ago- an obviously annoyed Antony Smith of Nimbus (Lyrita) went public in stating that the next Daniel Jones cd would be issued in June and the final instalment of the symphonic series in November. He evidently feels no great need to say why this promise is not being fulfilled.

I have said this before but I shall repeat: record companies have loyal customers who wait for promised releases. There may well be perfectly sound reasons for a delay in issuing these but if I ran a record company I would feel under some obligation to keep in touch with my customers and explain the delay. Amazon has grown exceedingly rich. It doesn't need to apologise for a delay in delivery. I was promised the delivery of a book today. I got an emailed apology for it not being delivered and a new date. That is good customer relations!
10  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Joseph Holbrooke from CPO on: July 11, 2019, 03:42:50 pm
I cannot but agree with what John has just written Smiley
11  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: Joseph Holbrooke from CPO on: July 10, 2019, 12:32:50 am
A rave review,on Musicweb,of the new Cpo,Holbrooke cd! Smiley

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2019/Jul/Holbrooke_sy3_5550412.htm

It is indeed an extremely enthusiastic review and it is perfectly proper that you draw our attention to it.

I do note two things however: one, the strange use of the phrase "overwhelmingly soporific" in reference to the last movement of the symphony and secondly (and more importantly) the clear indication that the reviewer is unfamiiar with Holbrooke's other music. This latter is an unfortunately common feature of reviews on Musicweb. My contention is that the music on the new cd does not match early Holbrooke. In addition rather too often the reviewer admits to not having heard alternative versions of pieces when these are available.
12  Little-known music of all eras / New recordings / Re: New Dutton CDs for May - Vaughan Williams, Braunfels, Arne and Elgar on: June 28, 2019, 08:54:58 pm
You seriously tempt me to buy this cd!
13  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 composers performed by BBC regional orchestras.
14  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.
15  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
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