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Unrecorded British Symphonies: an update


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Author Topic: Unrecorded British Symphonies: an update  (Read 316 times)
Dundonnell
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« on: March 17, 2019, 04:49:58 pm »

The last few months have seen a substantial number of previously unrecorded British Symphonies finally making it onto cds.
All the 32 Havergal Brian symphonies have now been recorded. Toccata gave us William Wordsworth's Symphonies Nos. 4 and 8 last June. Chandos issued Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's Symphony No.2 last July. Linn Records have just released Thomas Wilson's 3rd and 4th symphonies.
Bennett's Symphony No.1 is due in a fortnight from Chandos.
In May we shall get David Matthews's Symphony No.9 from Nimbus.
Lyrita has promised to release the Daniel Jones Symphonies Nos. 3 and 5 in June and the Symphonies Nos. 12 and 13 in November (thereby completing the Jones symphonic cycle).
Chandos have the David Matthews Symphony No.8 "in the can" and CPO have recorded the Joseph Holbrooke Symphony No. 3.
Toccata continue to release symphonies by less well-established British composers: the third cd featuring symphonies by David Hackbridge Johnson is "in the pipeline".
This all follows on from the incredibly welcome releases in 2016 and 2017 from the Richard Itter Archive by Lyrita of symphonies by Arthur Butterworth, Arnold Cooke, Peter Racine Fricker and Daniel Jones.

As is pretty evident I am a "completist". It is, I think, a "harmless obsession", shared by others, though incomprehensible to those with perhaps more highly developed critical and discriminatory faculties Wink

For that reason the following update. It is by no means complete, let alone definitive. One could add all the (far too) many symphonies of Derek Bourgeois, the remaining unrecorded symphonies of Joseph Holbrooke or many symphonies by less well-known British composers. Whether it would be possible to resurrect Stanley Bate's Symphony No.2 or York Bowen's Symphony No.3 is of considerable doubt.

(An * indicates that the symphony can be heard in off-air private recordings)

Alan Bush: Symphony No.3 *
Arthur Butterworth: Symphonies Nos. 3 *, 6 * and 7
Arnold Cooke: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 6 *
Iain Hamilton: Nos. 1 *, 2 *, 3 * and 4 * (ie all Hamilton's symphonies)
Alun Hoddinott: Nos. 4 *, 7 *, 8 *, 9 * and 10 * (No.1 was withdrawn by the composer)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: Nos. 7 * and 9 *
John McCabe: Symphonies Nos. 3 *, 5 *, 6 and 7 *
Anthony Milner: Symphonies Nos. 2 * and 3
Robin Orr: Symphonies Nos. 2 * and 3 *
Robert Still: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2
John Veale: Symphonies Nos. 1 * and 3 *
Thomas Wilson: Symphonies Nos. 2 * and 5 * (No.1 was withdrawn by the composer)
William Wordsworth: Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 *

A total of 33 symphonies, 26 of which can be heard (if one wishes) in off-air recordings available online.

The composers who wrote three or more unrecorded symphonies are Arthur Butterworth, Iain Hamilton, Alun Hoddinott and John McCabe. I find it astonishing that none of Hamilton's symphonies is on cd- given that he was identified by Hugh Wood back in the late 1950s as one of three of the most promising of British composers. It is also surprising that the BBC National Orchestra of Wales which plays in the Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff should not have recorded the later Hoddinott symphonies. McCabe also deserves better than his current representation on disc.

Three of the symphonies on my list per year over the next decade would just about do it though.......... Grin
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relm1
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2019, 01:36:15 am »

I'm a completest too but why do you ignore Derek Bourgeois?  You are a semicompletist.  He deserves his place. 
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2019, 12:44:02 pm »

My personal definition of "completist" in this context involves the completion of cycles of the symphonies of composers some of which have been recorded on commercial cd. The only exception in my list- which I acknowledged was neither "complete" nor "definitive" -was Iain Hamilton.

I am also a realist. None of Bourgeois's symphonies is on disc and there is absolutely no realistic prospect that his complete symphonies will ever be recorded - however worthy they may be. For me to have added 116 Bourgeois symphonies to the 33 I listed would have been, frankly, ridiculous.
I repeat it is not definitive, it was not intended to be. Anyone can add to it. I might have added a number of living and very active composers- John Pickard, to name but one.
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relm1
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2019, 02:56:26 pm »

My personal definition of "completist" in this context involves the completion of cycles of the symphonies of composers some of whose symphonies have been recorded on commercial cd. The only exception in my list- which I acknowledged was neither "complete" nor "definitive" -was Iain Hamilton.

I am also a realist. None of Bourgeois's symphonies is on disc and there is absolutely no realistic prospect that his complete symphonies will ever be recorded - however worthy they may be. For me to have added 116 Bourgeois symphonies to the 33 I listed would have been, frankly, ridiculous.
I repeat it is not definitive, it was not intended to be. Anyone can add to it. I might have added a number of living and very active composers- John Pickard, to name but one.

Fair point.  His first seven symphonies were all radio broadcast on the BBC so should have the same chance of being released in cleaned up by Lyrita like they've done with other releases.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2019, 10:41:35 pm »

I hope that you are right but I wonder whether the project to remaster Richard Itter's recordings has rather run out of steam. Yes..the remaining Daniel Jones symphonies are promised but I begin to doubt how much is still to come from Lyrita.
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Gauk
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2019, 09:53:55 pm »

Bourgeois's later symphonies should not be ignored. They may not be "great", but they are certainly enjoyable listening, and would be great for an amateur orchestra looking for something original to play. I recommend #90 and #101 as starting points.
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relm1
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2019, 01:13:08 am »

Bourgeois's later symphonies should not be ignored. They may not be "great", but they are certainly enjoyable listening, and would be great for an amateur orchestra looking for something original to play. I recommend #90 and #101 as starting points.

THANK YOU!!!  We fans are few and far between.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2019, 05:42:29 pm »

Bourgeois's later symphonies should not be ignored. They may not be "great", but they are certainly enjoyable listening, and would be great for an amateur orchestra looking for something original to play. I recommend #90 and #101 as starting points.

THANK YOU!!!  We fans are few and far between.

I would presume that no-one is suggesting that Bourgeois's symphonies should be "ignored".
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Gauk
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2019, 08:27:13 pm »

Wilfred Josephs is missing from the list. Twelve symphonies, only one recorded.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2019, 11:47:45 pm »

Yes, Wilfred Josephs is "missing from the list". So are many other British composers whose symphonies deserve to be recorded. Since the list was quite explicitly neither "complete" nor "definitive" omissions were inevitable and flagged up. I tried to produce a "short list" (in a literal definition).
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Vandermolen
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« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2019, 10:14:07 am »

Bourgeois's later symphonies should not be ignored. They may not be "great", but they are certainly enjoyable listening, and would be great for an amateur orchestra looking for something original to play. I recommend #90 and #101 as starting points.

I just heard his 'Cotswold Symphony' online and found it most enjoyable. What a shame that it is not on CD.
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