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1  Assorted items / Books about composers and music / Frederick Delius: Memories of my Brother by Clare Delius (1935) on: July 06, 2022, 12:47:17 am

See: https://archive.org/details/frederickdeliusm00clar/mode/2up
2  Assorted items / YouTube performances / Hamish MacCunn's 'The Wreck of the Hesperus' on: July 06, 2022, 12:33:15 am

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezg2cfsDcwg

Setting of the poem by Longfellow for SATB Choir and Piano

1905 - The Wreck of the Hesperus, cantata (fp. Coliseum Theatre, London, 28 August 1905)
3  Assorted items / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Kickstarter: Herrmann - On Dangerous Ground/The Man Who Knew Too Much on: June 09, 2022, 04:28:17 am

For admirers the film music of Bernard Herrmann, the Californian specialist film score label, Intrada, are running a Kickstarter to raise funds to record Herrmann's iconic film noir score for On Dangerous Ground and Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much [minus the Arthur Benjamin cantata and the popular song].  Both contain music which is vintage Herrmann.

William Stromberg will conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra if the target is met.

The original recorded score of On Dangerous Ground has been previously released on CD in poor quality sound.  Nonetheless most admirers of the composer who know the music would not want to be without it.  Apart from the Prelude to the film, the original score for The Man Who Knew Too Much has never been officially released. There is a poor sounding bootleg someone extracted from the film which, I am guessing, is not widely available, but there is a stark difference between its Prelude and modern recorded versions.

See: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/129145902/on-dangerous-ground-the-man-who-knew-too-much-new-recordings
4  Assorted items / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Vaughan Williams: Pan’s Anniversary on Albion Records on: June 06, 2022, 02:22:49 am

See: https://www.britishmusicsociety.co.uk/2022/04/ralph-vaughan-william-pans-anniversary/

See: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2022/May/RVW-pan-ALBCD054.htm

See: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2022/Jun/VW-pan-ALBCD054.htm
5  Assorted items / Films about composers / Re: Song of Summer on: May 05, 2022, 11:44:15 pm

Song of Summer is based on the memoirs of Eric Fenby Delius as I knew him.  I recall meeting Eric Fenby in October 1975.

I used to love the music of Delius when I was a teenager. Song of Summer is my favourite of Ken Russell's composer films.  I saw his 'Mahler' at the cinema in the 1970s.

In 1975 I visited friends of my mother who lived in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.  I was 15 at the time. I listened to Delius a lot and loved his Concertos for Violin, Cello and Violin and Cello as well as some of his short orchestral pieces.  I remember listening to the Cello Concerto on the train from Glasgow to London.  My mother's friends knew the former Vice principal of the Royal Academy of Music and he arranged for me to visit the institution for a day.

I was enthralled by the library and spent some time reading the Memoirs of Eugenie Schumann which fascinated me.  On entering the institution I noticed that one of the teachers was Professor Eric Fenby.  I had a book on Delius by him.  On speaking to the librarian she told me that Eric Fenby was very approachable and that I could speak to him if I caught him between students. So I did and obtained his autograph.

I only spoke to him for a few minutes and my conversation with him was about Delius.  At that time I did not really appreciate what Eric Fenby had done for Delius in volunteering to be his amanuensis.  I recall asking him if he liked Delius.  He did not answer me and that made an impression upon me.  Shortly afterwards I purchased and read Fenby's Delius as I knew him.  I remember reaching a conclusion as to why Fenby never answered my question.  It was too simple a question.  Delius, although I loved his music at that time, was not, to my mind, a likeable person. I suspect some of the reasons that I found disagreeable about Delius may have been shared by Eric Fenby.  However, I am speculating.  Eric Fenby made a historic and noble gesture in helping Delius which is to be greatly admired.

Today I am much more likely to listen to the music of Percy Grainger than Delius.  I remember the episode from Delius as I knew him of Grainger and the tennis ball.  I was pleased to see it re-enacted in Russell's Song of Summer.


6  Assorted items / Individual composers / Chinese Composer: Chen Peixun/陈培勋 or Chan Pui-fang (1921-2006) on: March 31, 2022, 12:23:03 am

The above composer, in my opinion, has composed two lyrically attractive Symphonies with a Chinese ambiance to them.

After spending 3 weeks of my holidays in October 2008 on a volunteer placement in Hong Kong, I discovered on another site music of Chinese composers to download.  Due to my recent visit I decided to download some of the available music.

The piece that impressed me most was this composer's Second Symphony 'Tsing-Ming’s Memorial'.

I sought to acquire more of his music but the only available CD I could purchase was a Marco Polo CD.  This was attractive but did not, in my opinion, equal the Second Symphony. See: https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8010624--chen-pei-xun-works-for-erhu-and-orchestra

The CD that intrigued me most was one that was too expensive and included his first two symphonies. See: https://www.ebay.com/itm/325012938426

Eventually, I was able to acquire the above CD.  The performance of the Second Symphony was better than I had and the First Symphony, though less impressive to me, was nonetheless attractive and memorable.


Here is some information on Chen Peixun/Chan Pui-fang from the web:


Chen Peixun or Chan Pui-fang (Chinese: 陳培勳; Chinese: 陈培勋; December 7, 1921 – February 25, 2007) was a Chinese composer.

Born in Hong Kong, he studied piano, organ and composition in HK and Shanghai. His teachers include Tan Xiaolin, a pupil of Paul Hindemith. He taught at the Central Music Conservatory in Beijing after 1949.

Chen made important contribution to the Chinese symphonic music of the 20th century. He composed three symphonies. No. 1 is called My Motherland, the first movement of which, entitled Aria of Snow, was used in the video game Civilization V.[1] No. 2 is entitled Qingming Ji (Rites of Qingming). No. 3 is entitled Mei Song Zan (Ode to Plums and Pines).

Some of his piano works are also very popular with Chinese pianists. Frequently played are Hantian Lei (Thunder in Dryness) and Mai Zahuo (The Street Vendor), arranged from Cantonese folk melodies.

In 2007, Chen Peixun died in Shenzhen
.
(From Wikipedia)

CHAN PUI-FANG (CHEN PEIXUN) (1921-2006)

Born in Hong Kong. After studying music privately for a year in London, he returned to Hong Kong as a music teacher. He had further studies in Shanghai and the taught) at various posts across China. He became a professor of composition and orchestration at the Central Conservatory in Beijing and later taught at the Hong Kong Baptist College. He composed orchestral, chamber and piano works.

Symphony No. 1, Op. 16 ''My Motherland'' (1960-4)

Mak Ka-Lok Russian Philharmonic Orchestra( + Symphony No. 2 and Wavy Emotions)
HUGO HRP 7108 (1995)

Symphony No. 2, Op. 22 ''Tsing-Ming's Monument''(1980)
Mak Ka-Lok Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
( + Symphony No. 1 and Wavy Emotions)
HUGO HRP 7108 (1995)


[From https://docplayer.net/57707680-Asian-symphonies-a-discography-of-cds-and-lps-prepared-by-michael-herman.html]

The reason for this post is I discovered a different version of the First Symphony recently on YouTube (not as good as the CD though).  The YouTube version of the Second Symphony, despite what it says, is not (I think) the CD version. 

See:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsiU2d_P-L8

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8-VbrDFBUY


There are other pieces of his music on YouTube but, unfortunately, not of his Third Symphony.
7  Assorted items / Concerts / John Blackwood McEwen: Symphony in A minor on YouTube on: March 26, 2022, 09:53:17 pm

The entire Symphony can be found on YouTube (see links below).  (It is "McEwen" not  McEwan)

I see that on 24th October 2017 I posted a link to the then available second movement.  This is what I wrote then:

This is the second movement Andante quasi adagio of McEwen's Symphony in A minor composed between 1895 and 1899 and published in 1903 in a String Quartet adaptation due to it not being performed in its orchestral version. The chief subject of the movement is a traditional fiddle tune The Arran Boat Song [information derived from Alasdair Mitchell's 2002 PhD thesis].

Publicity about the performance states "the concert promises to be particularly notable for its rendition of John Blackwood McEwan's Symphony in A Minor, of which this performance is the English Premiere!" (see: https://www.dur.ac.uk/whatson/event/?eventno=9084)

The String Quartet adaptation String Quartet No.2 in A minor is available on the Chandos CD of Volume 3 of McEwen's String Quartets with the Chilingirian Quartet.
>

Symphony in A Minor by Sir John Blackwood McEwan (sic). Conducted by Gerard Doherty, the Glasgow Sinfonia performance at their 2012 winter concert.

1st Movement - Allegro Mercato

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1E-MNXk85hU

2nd Movement - Andante Quasi Adagio

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvKgNDDA3Ls

3rd Movement - Vivace Molto Meno Mosso

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QLizs0ViQY

4th Movement - Allegro Vivace Presto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x34M2RaAPc8






8  Assorted items / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs Volume 4 (Albion Records) on: March 18, 2022, 02:38:04 am

I have purchased the three previous volumes of this series.  I enjoyed Volume 1 best of all.

See: https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/9312530--ralph-vaughan-williams-folk-songs-volume-4
9  Assorted items / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / British Piano Concertos on Lyrita on: March 18, 2022, 02:31:38 am

A new recording from Lyrita of Concertino pieces for piano and orchestra.  The only one I know, and have, is the Concertino by Arthur Benjamin, an Australian who spent a good part of his life in England.  I much prefer Benjamin's string concertos to his works for piano and orchestra, albeit Benjamin was an excellent pianist.  He taught piano to Benjamin Britten.

See:  https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/9318303--british-piano-concertos

and: https://www.europadisc.co.uk/classical/222795/British_Piano_Concertos.htm
10  Assorted items / Individual composers / Re: Stanley Bate (1911-1959) on: March 09, 2022, 10:23:27 pm

I share people's enthusiasm for Bate.  The Dutton Bate and Bell Viola Concertos CD was marvellous.  A pity there is only Bell's South African Symphony on Marco Polo to go along with his Rosa Mystica Viola Concerto.

The Dutton Bate and Chisholm CD is even better in my opinion and the Fourth Symphony is equal to the Third, albeit less immediately appealing.  The 2nd and 3rd Piano Concertos are attractive, the Cello Concerto perhaps less so.

I would love to hear the Violin Concertos.  If I recall correctly the Third Concerto was composed for Yehudi Menuhin and Dutton were considering recording it several years ago.  There was a Dutch radio broadcast of the first or second Concerto in the 1950s I think.

The cellist who recorded the Cello Concerto used a Kickstarter appeal to raise the funds and himself prepared the score.  Perhaps this is what is needed to bring recordings of the Violin Concertos to pass.  I have read the scores do exist for them.

11  Assorted items / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Re: Two early 20th century Italian opera releases coming soon on: February 22, 2022, 12:09:30 am

I remember taping, with a cassette recorder, a TV broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera performance of Francesca da Rimini in the 1980s.  I think it was on BBC 2 one Sunday afternoon.  I had wanted to hear the opera for a long time. 

I purchased the  Koch Schwann CD from 1997 of the Bregenzer Festspiele performance of Francesca da Rimini just after it was released and, a few years ago, 2 other earlier Italian performances purchased as downloads from iTunes.  It has some lovely music and, in my view, stands head and shoulders above 4 other Zandonai operas I have which made little impression on me. 

I first encountered Siberia in the late 1980s in a tape of an RAI radio performance.  I had always wanted a CD of the opera and that came with the release on the Dynamic label in 2004 conducted by Manlio Benzi.  I actually listened to that CD last week after I noticed a Bongiovanni label release of the opera on YouTube.  Siberia was Giordano's favourite among his operas and enjoyed some success in Paris where Fauré greatly admired it, especially the second act.  However, the second act is mostly Giordano using Russian folk songs (e.g. the song of the Volga boatmen).  Apparently, at the time Giordano was composing Siberia he learned that Mascagni was considering a libretto for a Russian subject.  He breathed a sigh of relief when Mascagni decided not to proceed, such was the competitive nature of Italian opera at that time, the beginning of the 20th century.

Siberia has some attractive music as do many of Giordano's other operas (he composed 12 if one includes the opera he co-wrote with Franchetti - all but that opera and his first and third operas are available on CD).  There was a Dynamic label release of Madame Sans-Gene with Mirella Freni in 1999 which, for me, is more attractive musically than Siberia.

None of Giordano's other operas come close, in my opinion, to Andrea Chenier.  However, a further release of Siberia is to be welcomed.
12  Assorted items / Individual composers / Re: Leoš Janáček on: February 10, 2022, 12:49:54 am

For the last few months I have been listening, time and time again, to Janáček's operas more than any other music (especially The Excursions of Mr. Brouček to the 15th Century and Káťa Kabanová).  I have recordings of all nine operas and several recordings of each of the operas after Šárka and Počátek románu (The Beginning of a Romance).  In May 2004 I went to Prague for 4 nights specifically to see The Excursions of Mr. Brouček at the National Theatre and also attended 2 performances of Jenůfa.

Although I have had the Mackerras recording of Káťa Kabanová since the 1980s, it was not an opera I returned to very often.  That changed last year!  However I prefer the Supraphon version conducted by Jaroslav Krombholc to Mackerras on Decca, although the latter seems to be the most favoured recording (he made a later one for Supraphon which I also have).  The Supraphon Věc Makropulos conducted by Bohumil Gregor was my first introduction to the opera and for me, neither Mackerras versions (Decca and Chandos) can equal Gregor for the splendid Overture or final lyrical moments of Emilia's death.  The Mackerras versions of Osud (in English), Jenůfa , The Cunning Little Vixen and From the House of the Dead are superb.

I also have a live recording (not on CD) of Mackerras conducting The Excursions of Mr. Brouček at the National Theatre in Prague.  I got it from an Opera sharing site in 2007.  I have never seen it available elsewhere.  This is a very good version but the Supraphon from 1980 conducted by František Jílek and the DG from 2008 conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek would be equal preferred choices for me.  I did, toward the end of last year, acquire a non-commercial CD of an English National Opera production from 1977 of Mr. Brouček sung in English.  However, unfortunately, the sound quality was not great and I couldn't make out most of the words.

Continue to enjoy Janáček! He is not only among my very favourite opera composers, but for his operas alone, he is one of my very favourite composers.  I do find myself humming his tunes and for me many of his tunes are eminently hummable and lyrically very memorable  ;D :D :) ;)



13  Assorted items / Concerts / Re: Walton's musical score to Henry V to be performed in London on: December 01, 2021, 02:15:34 am

I read, I think over a year ago, that Chandos planned to record a Walton piece.  Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part, but I interpreted this as something new.

Could it possibly be, assuming it comes to pass, the first recording of Walton's complete score to Henry V in Dominic Sewell's reconstruction?  The original manuscript is lost and, I have read, Walton gave extracts of it away.

Chandos have been great advocates for Walton's music.  It amazes me that, given the reconstructed score exists, it has never been recorded.  I am assuming Dominic Sewell has not prohibited a recording of the score which was reconstructed, as I understand it, to accompany live performances of Olivier's 1944 film.

I really hope this score gets a proper recording.  Albeit that it includes music that is not Walton's, including the Agincourt Carol (suggested to Walton by Vaughan Williams, who made a setting of it, and as subsequently set by Dyson) and music from Canteloube's Songs from the Auvergne, it is a splendid score.  Walton's setting of the Agincourt Carol is certainly the most stirring in my opinion.

It is a pity that Dominic Sewell's prodigious efforts in reconstructing the score from what currently exists and the rest from listening to the film, cannot presently be appreciated by a larger audience than those who can attend the few live performances there have been.

Here's hoping  ;D









14  Assorted items / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Reynaldo Hahn's Violin Concerto: Henryk Szeryng - Live in USA on: December 01, 2021, 01:54:07 am

In the 1990s I was a keen collector of Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series.  A disc that delighted me was the 1997 release of Vol.15: the Massenet and Hahn Piano Concertos.  I knew and loved Massenet's Manon, originally from an English National Opera Radio 3 broadcast in the late 1970's of an English translation version.  However, I had never heard of Reynaldo Hahn.

I subsequently acquired a disc of both Hahn's Piano and Violin Concertos, and my initial impression of the Violin Concerto was of a pretty superficial piece.  However, for some reason, in 2015 or 2016, I returned to the CD and really liked the Violin Concerto, considering it lyrical and memorable music.  I found on the internet Henryk Szeryng perfoming the attractive second movement in a USA performance and hoped one day I might hear the entire concerto.

This is now due to be released and I have placed my order:

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/9254142--henryk-szeryng-live-in-usa

 https://www.europadisc.co.uk/classical/218869/Henryk_Szeryng:_Live_in_USA.htm
15  Assorted items / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Re: Macfarren and Stanford from Retrospect Opera on: October 27, 2021, 01:03:43 am

I enjoyed Macfarren's Chevy Chase from the Hyperion's British Overtures CD which, if I recall correctly, Wagner remembered, from a concert, as 'Steeple Chase'.  However, Robin Hood on Naxos (I think) did not make a great impression.  That was based on an initial hearing which I did not listen to again and first impressions are often misleading.

I really enjoyed Stanford's The Travelling Companion so Shamus O'Brien would be a definite buy if it gets recorded.  I hope they raise the necessary funds.
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