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Joseph Holbrooke from CPO


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Author Topic: Joseph Holbrooke from CPO  (Read 1444 times)
cilgwyn
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« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2016, 08:51:22 am »

The Dylan Prelude on Marco Polo is one of my favourite (possibly my favourite) of all the works that have been recorded. I have read a post,however,on Amazon that suggests that the composers specified instrumentation was not used in the recording. I remember writing an enthusiastic letter to Gwydion Brooke after hearing the Marco Polo cds when they came out. I remember him telling me (in the letter which I still have) that the BBC had used the small orchestra for their recording of 'The Bells' and calling it a "travesty". I would personally love to own a recording of all the orchestral music from the Cauldron of Annwn cycle,and 'The Wild Fowl'. Imho,I think it would make an absolutely fantastic cd.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2016, 09:00:11 am »

One more point. Has anyone heard anything of Gwydion Brooke's bassoon since this interesting obituary was published?! (You need to scroll to near the bottom of it).

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/apr/06/guardianobituaries.artsobituaries
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« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2016, 05:56:41 pm »

The full instrumentation is not used on the Marco Polo disks.  And Gwyd was quite right: the BBC did not use the full orchestra specified by Josef for their performance of The Bells. No mushroom bells, though these specifically play different notes in chords with the tubular bells. No deep bell in C. No steer horns - and a host of other omissions, most serious of which is the concertina which has a very important part and one which is quite exposed sometimes.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2016, 09:46:03 pm »

Thank you very much for your reply,Gareth. I presume that bassoons still missing! !That's very interesting,about the orchestration. I'm only a listener,but the performance comes over as a bit of a run through. I'm sure it could be tauter. It seems to sag in the middle. Of course,not being able to read music or hear any other performance,it could just be Holbrooke! But there's some lovely music there which doesn't sound like any other British choral work of the time. At least that I'm aware of......so I'm reserving judgement!!  Oh and yes,to my untutored ears,I feel the bells should be (have to be!) more sonorous than they do here. I wouldn't be surprised! I'm sure Holbrooke would have revelled in those sounds!  I just keep thinking of that Marco Polo recording of the Hebridean Symphony. I enjoyed what I heard;but the full glory of Bantock's orchestration came as a bit of a shock,to say the least,when I heard the Handley recording. The horns just seem to rip out! Despite their obvious shortcomings,I actually think I prefer the Marco Polo performance of the Prelude to the Bells. After posting this I'm going to have to listen to the two recordings again!
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Grandenorm
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« Reply #34 on: October 18, 2016, 07:23:13 am »

I think Joseph has got an unjust reputation for overscoring: for throwing as many instruments as possible into the pot, kitchen sink and all. A study of his scores shows this is not the case at all. A large orchestra is sometimes called for,  but the instrumentation, even in the most complex of his scores, is no more excessive (and I would contend less so) than in many orchestral works by Mahler or Richard Strauss, or other roughly contemporary composers. There is in fact more percussion in Vaughan Williams' 8th symphony than in any score by Holbrooke, including The Bells, while Mahler and Strauss call for more "out of the way" instruments more often than Joseph. Moreover, Jo also uses many of these extra instruments sparingly and tellingly,  often producing passages of chamber like delicacy in the midst of large scale works. Because he liked them, and wrote well for them, Jo frequently asks for a large woodwind section, including saxophones. He was a masterly orchestrator and knew very well the sounds and timbres he wanted to produce. It is a shame that the same care in adhering to his called for instrumentation is not accorded to him as it is to performances of pieces by Mahler or Strauss. If we could hear what the composer wanted us to hear we would perhaps arrive at a better judgement of his worth. I think this is being done with the CPO disks and I very much hope we shall get more from that company.

As to Gwyd's bassoon, I will ask Jean when I next speak to her.
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« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2016, 10:59:59 pm »

I am listening as I write to the new Holbrooke disc from CPO.

Now..there is no point in me pretending that this is exactly "my" type of music but I can certainly appreciate the skills Holbrooke demonstrates in his orchestration. The Variations on "Auld Lang Syne" are both skillful and witty. The performance of "The Raven" is considerably more atmospheric than that on the old Marco Polo cd. The presentation of the cd is absolutely first-class: the variations are each cued separately, the booklet notes are extremely detailed, well-written and informative and the running time of the cd is much longer than the somewhat short measure on the previous orchestral Holbrooke disc from CPO.

Overall an extremely pleasing experience listening to these works in well-prepared performances with a conductor who obviously believes in the music. They are not necesarily the sort of pieces I shall return to very often but that is simply a matter of personal taste. Those who enjoy Holbrooke's music should certainly invest in the cd (as have I Grin) and it will bring them much pleasure.
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« Reply #36 on: June 16, 2017, 07:24:57 pm »

After reading a quite enthusiastic review (not Musicweb) I decided to give this another spin. I didn't realise Holbrooke had taken a leaf out of Elgar's book. (Okay,I didn't read the booklet!)  Each Variation being a musical sketch  of a close friend or acquaintance. The Variation 14, HB Allegro marchia depicting Havergal Brian! Although Havergal Brian was later replaced by DG (Dan Godfrey)! I'm beginning to enjoy this now after a few listens. Holbrooke's variations are hardly a match for Elgar's;but maybe they aren't meant to be? This is more like well crafted light music. I find Holbrooke's scoring colourful and I like parts of it very much. I also find the ,so called,"Grasshopper" Violin Concerto growing on me,too. I find that leaping motif quite delightful. It really draws me in,and Holbrooke's scoring is at it's best here. I think it's a lovely piece. The slow movement is a cracker,imho.Structurally,it also strikes me as one of his most accomplished and effective pieces.
The cd finishes off with one of his Poe (Edgar Allan! Grin) inspired compositions. This is a very Gothic sounding piece. You can practically hear the rustling curtain and the Raven tapping on the window pane,croaking,"Nevermore"!
This has taken,as I said,a few listens;but the music on this cd has really grown on me. I am really looking forward to the forthcoming Cpo cd of the third symphony and it's companions. I hope it won't be too long?!! I trust Cpo will find another appropriate painting to adorn the front. The choices so far have been excellent,as far as I'm concerned. I also hope the next cd won't be the last!! Angry Sad Grin

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cilgwyn
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« Reply #37 on: June 17, 2017, 12:20:34 am »

Listening to this cd again has prompted a whole day of Holbrooke orchestral cds;or what few there are of them! Still,at least there are some,now;so I mustn't grumble!
One Symphony I would dearly love to hear,is his Fifth Symphony "Wild Wales". Not just because of it's seductive subtitle (I live in Wales!),but also because one of the things I particularly like about Holbrooke is his sonorous use of the brass section of the orchestra;and the Fifth symphony is for.......wait for it.........brass band!! I know that some of Holbrooke's symphonies (and some other compositions) have gone missing. Hopefully,his Fifth symphony is not one of them?!!

NB: Just looked at the Wikipedia entry for this symphony under brass band. Also titled "Old Wales,also styled Symphony No 8". Confusing?!! Roll Eyes Undecided Grin
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« Reply #38 on: June 17, 2017, 06:59:06 pm »

Everything about the Holbrooke compositions is confusing! The chronology, the opus numbering, the different names and numbers given to the symphonies in particular. It made my job in producing a list of works virtually impossible and I had to rely shamelessly on the work done by others, including Albion's listings on Wikipedia.

What I am not sure about, and perhaps Gareth Vaughan can help us out here, is the current situation regarding the scores of the symphonies. How many actually are still extant? Which ones might realistically be recorded- assuming a company like CPO might be open to persuasion?
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #39 on: June 18, 2017, 12:42:33 am »

Yes,he even seems to have kept changing the dedicatees of the individual variations that make up the Auld lang Syne Variations. Havergal Brian,the dedicatee of the Fourteenth (the booklet,unless it's my glasses Roll Eyes Grin,refers to it as the Fourth!) being replaced,later on,by Dan Godfrey.....and that's just one example! I wonder why? I know Holbrooke was a bit of a difficult character (nobody's perfect,mind!) but I thought Holbrooke and Brian were on friendly terms?!
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« Reply #40 on: June 18, 2017, 09:26:26 am »

I recently bought the autograph manuscripts of "Clive of India, for brass band" by Holbrooke by the way. Now I would like to typeset and publish the score as I do it with all autograph manuscripts in my possession. Does anyone know how to contact the Holbrooke family?
And I noticed that the score of the work was published in 1941 by R. Smith & Co. I could not find an original copy at rare books shops, but noticed that the site www.justmusicuk.com sells copies for 50. It looks like they just sell a copy from that old R. Smith & Co. publication, so that looks somehow suspicious to me. Does anyone here ever ordered from them?

I created a subpage to that Holbrooke piece on my website and wrote a first sketch, so if anyone is interested in it anyway: https://www.tobias-broeker.de/rare-manuscripts/joseph-holbrooke/

Best,
Tobias
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« Reply #41 on: June 18, 2017, 11:13:34 pm »

I do know how to contact the Holbrooke family, Tobias, and if you will contact me on: gareth41@talktalk.net I will give you Mrs Jean Holbrooke's address. Sounds as if she ought to be getting royalties from the sale of those scores.
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Grandenorm
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« Reply #42 on: June 18, 2017, 11:20:50 pm »

Quote
I know that some of Holbrooke's symphonies (and some other compositions) have gone missing. Hopefully,his Fifth symphony is not one of them?!!

The score and parts of the 5th Symphony have survived and are held by Mrs Jean Holbrooke.
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Gauk
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« Reply #43 on: June 19, 2017, 11:18:23 am »

How interesting! Is she his niece?
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Grandenorm
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« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2017, 12:25:37 pm »

She is his daughter in law - Gwydion Brooke's widow.
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