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Grace Williams-Four Illustrations


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northern
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« on: March 04, 2016, 12:28:51 pm »

BBC Radio 3 Monday 7th March c.2.50pm
Grace Williams: Four Illustrations for the Legend of Rhiannon
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Perry So (conductor)
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2016, 10:08:10 pm »

I'll record that one and post it!
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Albion
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Henry Hugo Pierson (1815-1873)


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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2016, 08:46:56 am »

I will also record the broadcast for the archive, which will then contain most of Grace Williams' important unrecorded works (Symphony No.1, Sinfonia Concertante, Violin Concerto, Missa Cambrensis).

Full details of the score in question are:

Four Illustrations for The Legend of Rhiannon (1939, rev. 1940)

1. The Conflict
2. The Nuptial Feast
3. The Penance
4. The Return of Pryderi


 Smiley
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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
jimfin
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2016, 09:21:10 am »

A very good few weeks for Grace Williams!
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tapiola
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2016, 07:31:31 am »

Gentlemen, thank you very much for doing this.  Music I thought I'd never live to hear and you make it possible.
Can it be done as mp3?
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Albion
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Henry Hugo Pierson (1815-1873)


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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2016, 07:52:46 am »

Can it be done as mp3?

As with the Missa Cambrensis I will record as a 320kbps mp3.

 Smiley
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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
relm1
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2016, 12:49:51 am »

Can it be done as mp3?

As with the Missa Cambrensis I will record as a 320kbps mp3.

 Smiley

Cheers Albion!  The Missa Cambrensis was an excellent discovery and I look forward to hearing more so thanks for posting!
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Albion
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2016, 03:25:15 pm »

This broadcast is now in the archive and the catalogue has been updated accordingly.

 Smiley
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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
djarvie
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2016, 05:11:20 pm »

Thanks for this, Albion, much appreciated.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2016, 08:48:12 pm »

......and a fine-if obviously early-work it is too Smiley
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Albion
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Henry Hugo Pierson (1815-1873)


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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2016, 09:52:12 am »

From Malcolm Boyd's invaluable study on Grace Williams (Composers of Wales 4, University of Wales Press, 1980):

The last and most ambitious of Grace Williams's pre-war orchestral works has the title Four Illustration for the Legend of Rhiannon and is based upon incidents from the Mabinogion, that great medieval treasure-house of ancient Welsh legend, history and folklore. Each of its four movements illustrates part of the first branch of the mabinogi, the story of Pwyll, Lord of Dyved. The first, a stormy, impassioned movement entitled 'The Conflict', tells of the rivalry between Pwyll and Gwawl, son of Clud, for the love of Rhiannon, the beautiful daughter of Heveydd the Old: 'And thereupon Pwyll's house-hold came down upon the palace and seized all the host that had come with Gwawl and cast them into prison'. The second movement, 'The Nuptial Feast', is descriptive of the marriage feast for Pwyll and Rhiannon: 'And they went to the tables and sat down. And they ate and feasted, and spent the night in mirth.' The third movement deals with the penance Rhiannon was forced to make for having supposedly killed her son, Pryderi; it takes the form of a sombre chorale prelude on the Welsh hymn tune Hen Ddarbi, later used by the composer in the slow movement of her Violin Concerto. The final movement, telling of how Teirnon Twrvliant slew the monster that had snatched Pryderi away and of Rhiannon's reunion with her son, also uses a traditional Welsh air, Cainc Dafydd proffwyd, as its main theme. It strongly recalls a theme in the first movement of Sibelius's Second Symphony.

Despite the evident intention of giving it an overall symphonic shape (the second movement has the character of a scherzo and the third functions as a slow movement), the work remains disjointed and episodic. Only the first two movements are at all convincingly shaped, and even then the quality of the music rarely rises above that of a good film score. On a technical level, too, the Rhiannon Illustrations represent a withdrawal from the radical position occupied by the Elegy. Their musical language is more conservative, harking back to the idiom of the early works, particularly in the last two movements (later discarded), in which the introduction of traditional material entails the use of key signatures once more. Grace Williams was to tackle again the problem of symphonic narration on a large scale in the Symphonic Impressions [Symphony No.1] of 1943, but it was one she was never to solve with complete success.

 Smiley
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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
Dundonnell
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2016, 05:23:50 pm »

The reference to the "Elegy" is to the Elegy for string orchestra(1936/40) which is the only non-choral roughly contemporary composition to the Four Illustrations. It has not been recorded and I have never heard it-although, obviously, I now would Grin

Boyd's analysis of the Four Illustrations is a little harsh I think although, as I said, it is an early work and not to be compared with the much finer later music Grace Williams composed including the Symphony No.2 or the Missa Cambrensis.
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tapiola
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2016, 07:40:27 pm »

Boyd's assessments are pretty negative on virtually her entire output.  He seems defensive that she is Welsh. or some other unknown reason.  Some musical giants thought very highly of her music. 
 I wish someone would write something more objective and enlightened.
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2016, 08:52:31 pm »

For what it's worth I think that Grace Williams was one of the great C20 composers, on a level with Vaughan Williams and others.

I remember being similarly annoyed by Stephen Banfield's book about Finzi, he seems to spends a lot of time making snippy comments about Finzi's works, even ones, which, in almost everyone's opinion, are masterworks. Can't see why you would a write a whole book about someone's music if you didn't like it much.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2016, 02:04:14 am »

The reference to the "Elegy" is to the Elegy for string orchestra(1936/40) which is the only non-choral roughly contemporary composition to the Four Illustrations. It has not been recorded and I have never heard it-although, obviously, I now would Grin

Boyd's analysis of the Four Illustrations is a little harsh I think although, as I said, it is an early work and not to be compared with the much finer later music Grace Williams composed including the Symphony No.2 or the Missa Cambrensis.

.....and almost immediately the Elegy for string orchestra becomes available Smiley Many thanks, britishcomposer Smiley
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