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Stanford sacred choral music from Hyperion


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Author Topic: Stanford sacred choral music from Hyperion  (Read 1074 times)
Albion
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Henry Hugo Pierson (1815-1873)


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« Reply #30 on: September 30, 2012, 11:08:24 am »

I note the omission of the late Mass 'via victrix' Op.173 from Albion's 'Urgently Needed' - or have I missed a recording?

No, there are no recordings of any part of this late large-scale work, but I confess that I'm in two minds as to whether Via Victrix would add materially to Stanford's reputation - from the vocal score it appears to be an example of the composer 'going through the motions' rather than writing from his heart with real inspiration. Of course, judging from a vocal score alone can be a notoriously misleading exercise (the case of Sullivan being a prime example), so although I'd welcome a full professional recording of Via Victrix I would place the other works mentioned higher up the priority list ...

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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)
Jim
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« Reply #31 on: September 30, 2012, 02:35:48 pm »

Of course, judging from a vocal score alone can be a notoriously misleading exercise (the case of Sullivan being a prime example)...

How true! Although I am not sure about Stanford 'going through the motions' because there are features like the rhythmic impetus in the accompaniment and the quote I noticed recently (after rehearsing the Stabat Mater) cued on the horn in the Benedictus that I am curious about. I suppose wanting to understand the semiotic significance of the latter and hear how Stanford deals with the orchestration does not make it a priority or indeed the most worthwhile. But it does look interesting with flowing lines unlike the earlier mass with many minims - but that is your point quoted above!
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Albion
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« Reply #32 on: September 30, 2012, 04:48:39 pm »

Neither Paul Rodmell nor Jeremy Dibble are overly enthusiastic about Via Victrix - Rodmell describes the Stabat mater quotation as "more distracting than helpful, feeling almost like a commercial for the earlier work" - but, of course, nobody (including the composer) has actually heard the work: it may come to life in a committed performance or it may hang fire - I'd certainly welcome the opportunity to find out, but not at the expense of several other choral scores being given greater exposure.

A purely personal hierarchy of the principal unrecorded choral works would be

priority 1 - Elegiac Ode (1884), The Voyage of Maeldune (1889), Mass in G (1892), Te Deum (1897), Fairy Day (1912), Merlin and the Gleam (1919), At the Abbey Gate (1920)

priority 2 - Phaudrig Crohoore (1895), Last Post (1899), Ave Atque Vale (1908), Mass Via Victrix (1919)

priority 3 - The Three Holy Children (1885), Eden (1890), The Battle of the Baltic (1891), The Bard (1892), East to West (1893), Ode to Wellington (1907), Ode to Discord (1908)

Apart from reading through the vocal scores, I've heard only two in live concerts (the Te Deum and Merlin and the Gleam) and one in the BBC broadcast (Phaudrig Crohoore).

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« Reply #33 on: October 06, 2012, 06:55:46 pm »

I have pre-ordered that marvelous Hyperion Collection. Long overdue.
When I commented on the 'urgently required' statement I was only thinking of Stanford's Italianate choral-orchestral liturgical settings, but seeing Albion's list of personal priorities for recording is very interesting. I rather enjoy secular choral works (though in my experience choirs are more divided over them) and concur about 'The voyage of Maeldune' and 'Merlin and the Gleam'. I have a recording of a broadcast reading of the 'Maeldune' poem, but in which section would I put a link to an upload?
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Albion
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« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2012, 09:51:11 am »

I've added Fairy Day to the list as another high priority for commercial release - this is a lovely work. The 2010 performance which I recorded for the archive is excellent and makes it even more curious that there is some doubt as to whether or not the piece was actually performed in Stanford's lifetime.

The full score of Merlin and the Gleam is lost, but I heard it performed by the Broadheath Singers in a very sensitive re-orchestration by Jeremy Dibble (incidentally, let's hope that his similar service for the Violin Concerto No.2 will lead to a professional recording), the same concert which included a lovely performance of Cowen's scena for tenor and orchestra The Dream of Endymion - if only that concert had been recorded ...

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« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2012, 11:42:55 am »

Oh yes, Fairy Day is gorgeous, and somehow it had passed me by previously when trawling through the archives. I think I assumed it was a song like Fairy Lough and ignored it, but how beautiful. Jeremy Dibble seems to think it was performed by the St. Cecilia Society in 1913 and then in Philadelphia by Horatio Parker. Is this doubtful? I'm sure you know more than me. Anyway, thank you this piece. It could usefully be added to a CD of orchestral music, to encourage those who mostly listen to concertos and orchestral works to hear Stanford's choral genius.
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Albion
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« Reply #36 on: October 08, 2012, 08:44:29 am »

Jeremy Dibble seems to think it was performed by the St. Cecilia Society in 1913 and then in Philadelphia by Horatio Parker. Is this doubtful?

There certainly seems to be some doubt: in the narrative text of his biography of Stanford, Dibble does indeed allude to these performances, but in his accompanying catalogue he marks the work as "unperformed?" - apparently no programmes or reviews have come to light. In the introduction to the 2011 broadcast he discussed having to edit the orchestral score since it appeared to have no performance markings. Paul Rodmell simply leaves the performance column in his catalogue blank ...

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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)
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« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2012, 10:16:10 am »

Ah, thank you once again for sharing your encyclopedic knowledge! Poor Stanford: the performances did really fall off after about 1910, didn't they? The saddest tale seems to be of him getting an agent to try to sell the Concert Piece for Organ and Orchestra, and no one was interested. Even worse for the likes of Mackenzie and Cowen, living till 1935, utterly forgotten and unperformed.
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