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Joseph Holbrooke from CPO

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Author Topic: Joseph Holbrooke from CPO  (Read 7172 times)
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« Reply #105 on: April 02, 2019, 01:18:00 pm »

I think you are looking for too much in "Ships", if I may say so, Dundonnell - at least if you are expecting symphonic argument. That's not what Holbrooke is about (to be honest, he wasn't very good at it - and probably knew it!). That's why, with the exception of the Choral Symphony "Homage to E.A. Poe" and possibly "Apollo and the Seaman" everything Joseph called a "symphony" is really more of a "suite". He was a very accomplished orchestrator (IMHO) and excelled at the symphonic poem, the mood painting: so if you think of "Ships" as a series of portraits I hope you will be less disappointed. Having read the score and listened to the CPO recording, both the unedited takes and the final version, many times, I must say I do rather like this work.
I must say,as someone who really enjoys Holbrooke's music,that I've always felt that large scale,abstract form & argument was not one of his best points. I'm chiefly attracted to his music because of his rich,somewhat,gothic (imo) imagination and the brilliancy of his orchestration. I enjoyed his Fourth Symphony. Like some of Langgaard's symphonies,which are more like suites than symphonies;but,imho,no less enjoyable for that! And one of the movements,of the Fourth Symphony,is so gorgeous.I think it's the second movement? I'll have to put it on,again (my memory!). It's like something out of Korngold. It never fails grab my attention. (Gareth may know the moment I'm referring to?) It makes me think what a fine film score Holbrooke could have composed,if he'd the opportunity,or,maybe,been inclined to do so?! If I'm looking for a tersely written,well argued symphony,I would certainly look elsewhere! The Cello Concerto,on the same cd,is another example! Yet,the concise,and,imo,cogently argued,little "Grasshopper" Violin Concerto,geniunely,surprised me! (The Dylan Prelude strikes me as another example;and I'd love to hear a really first rate orchestra tackling it! Come on Cpo! Grin)
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