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1  INTRODUCTION & FAQs / Greetings / Re: Hello Again! on: March 29, 2021, 10:37:22 pm
Erudite, Schmeerudite. I applaud Lionel's response, and tell Dundonnell his lack of "erudition" is what makes him relatable and a friend I have never met. When I hear "erudite", or "musicologically speaking" I hark back to some personalities we all may have experienced in forums and my mental picture is of a cardiganed curmudgeon sitting in an uncomfortable chair sipping tea with both pinky and nose elevated, discounting all other classical music aficionados as philistines and rabble. Now that was kind of mean, I guess, and I absolutely approve of someone having real musical knowledge and expertise and being able to share it in an understandable way with me at my level. So, Colin, I picture you in your music room sitting, dancing, conducting, moving, crying or whatever response you get from really feeling and enjoying what you are hearing and not giving a hoot what anyone else thinks of you. I am American, so I can't really say "not give a toss" with any credibility. Bloody hell!

That is, once again, extremely kind! And yes, I do sometimes (or did) "conduct" the music I am listening to in my sitting room, I have occasionally danced and I am certainly moved to tears by some music. I recall Holst's reaction to hearing RVW's Tallis Fantasia in Gloucester Cathedral, gripping his seat lest he was levitated upwards by the spiritual power of the music. There have been many times in the concert hall I have held onto my seat to prevent losing control of my arms-at the grandeur of a Bruckner brass chorale for example. It is the way I respond to music and I make no apology for such a physical, visceral reaction.

....but of course I have enormous respect and admiration for erudition in any form and in any subject provided it is expressed without arrogance or conceit. 
2  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / William Wordsworth Volume 3 from Toccata on: March 29, 2021, 07:07:20 pm
As a great admirer of the music of William Wordsworth I was delighted to hear recently that John Gibbon, the conductor, had returned to Liepaja in Latvia to record the third volume in Toccata's survey of the composer's music.
What was not clear was which works would be included on the cd.
This information is now available thanks to an advert on Naxos Direct:

I was initially a little disappointed to find that the cd will contain the Symphony No.5 given that the work featured on a relatively recent Lyrita disc. The performance Lyrita revived however was a BBC broadcast from 1979. The new recording should show this magnificent, glowing work in modern sound quality. There is nothing (pace Cilgwyn!) "grey" about Wordsworth's orchestration in what may well be his masterpiece.
Also on the cd is the Cello Concerto. This means that Gibbons and the excellent Liepaja Symphony Orchestra will have recorded all three of Wordsworth's concertos and will add another previously unrecorded British cello concerto to the discography. (We are still waiting for the Lennox Berkeley (1939), Gordon Jacob (1955), Wilfred Josephs (1962), Arnold Cooke (1973), Daniel Jones (1986), Arthur Butterworth (1997) and John McCabe (2007)-although only the Butterworth is not currently available for download here.)

The new Toccata cd will be issued in July. I hope that the Symphony No.7 "Cosmos" will follow and that it might even be possible to record Wordsworth's unperformed choral Symphony No.6 "Elegiaca" composed in memory of his son who was tragically killed in a car accident.
3  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Conductor James Levine dies, aged 77 on: March 29, 2021, 01:13:35 am
Apparently it was an "open secret" within the community of musicians and music administrators for many years that Levine had a "private life" that was, to put in very mildly, not above reproach. No doubt this was true of other eminent figures. This was kept from public view because that was considered an acceptable response in the past. Clearly, and quite rightly, this is no longer acceptable. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. However distinguished the figure such behaviour cannot be tolerated.
Do we now airbrush the artistic achievements out of history, indeed out of our consciousness? This is a quite different matter. And if we did then where exactly do we stop?
4  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Conductor James Levine dies, aged 77 on: March 27, 2021, 03:09:40 pm
Extremely difficult issue! Different people have perfectly legitimate and valid views on the extent to which the behaviour or the views of creative artists should affect or influence our response to their artistic achievements. There are people who cannot listen to the music of certain composers because of their lifestyles or their non-musical opinions/outlook. These do not detract from my own responses to, for example, Richard Wagner's music but I respect the antipathy so strongly felt by others.
We are no longer prepared to draw a veil of pretended ignorance over the behaviour of those who enjoyed acclaim for their artistic achievement. We owe it to the victims of totally unacceptable behaviour. Levine profited from the silence of those who could have acted much sooner but preferred to look the other way. This was true of many who enjoyed stellar reputations and abused their positions of power and influence.
Does this mean that we cease to appreciate the work they did? Do we cease to watch the films of Kevin Spacey? It does seem to me that this has to be left to the individual to decide for themselves.
5  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Coming broadcasts and listen-later links / Re: Rubbra’s early Piano Concerto in A minor, op30 on: March 27, 2021, 02:53:48 pm
Hyperion's clear preference for its Romantic Piano Concerto series is to couple concertos by different composers.The company is also (understandably) very conscious of commercial imperatives. Coupling two piano concertos by Rubbra would not have appealed to them.
I too am very intrigued to finally hear the early Rubbra Piano Concerto. I have known of its existence for many,many years.
Of course the composer refused to admit it to his canon. Which brings up the old issue about whether or not a composer is in fact the best judge of the merits of his own compositions, particularly the early, "immature " compositions.And in turn the old arguments about our "rights" to resurrect these works, perhaps against his expressed wishes.
I doubt whether there can ever, or should be, some general rule. To deny us the opportunity- to pick one example- to hear the majesty and sublime power of Sibelius's "Kullervo" would be an utter tragedy.
So..let's welcome the Rubbra and judge the work for ourselves.
6  INTRODUCTION & FAQs / Greetings / Re: Hello Again! on: March 22, 2021, 11:02:47 pm
You are all extremely kind and I do so much appreciate the sentiments expressed!

It is however difficult to recognise some of these descriptions. I have never thought of myself as possessing much of a sense of humour, let alone a "dry wit". And I certainly make no claims to musical "erudition"! I cannot read music and I skip over the technical analysis of music in cd booklets as beyond my comprehension. All I can claim is a broad (but not necessarily deep) knowledge of the orchestral (and only orchestral!) repertoire from the late 19th century. That does not count as "erudition" by any measure.

Nevertheless I am delighted to be welcomed back in such a fashion............. Smiley
7  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Re: Bantock from Cpo! on: March 21, 2021, 11:43:01 pm
I shall certainly invest in this new cd from CPO. Bantock was a superb composer of music for strings (the Celtic Symphony has already been mentioned). There is a lot of Bantock's music unrecorded although I do not know how much of it remains extant.
8  INTRODUCTION & FAQs / Greetings / Re: Hello Again! on: March 21, 2021, 11:34:43 pm
My most sincere and heartfelt thanks to those members who have been kind enough to write in such warm terms. I do so much appreciate your kindness!
9  INTRODUCTION & FAQs / Greetings / Hello Again! on: March 21, 2021, 02:29:08 am
It is quite difficult to begin the process of very tentatively and with considerable diffidence attempting to inch back into this forum.

My last post was on my birthday in 2019. In my usual prolix fashion I responded in a combination of anger and frustration to a post by a member, a post I found personally troubling. That led me to a period of reflection which in turn led to a pause which became a prolonged and self-imposed absence. I had intended a much earlier return but unfortunately began to suffer from some personal issues which made that increasingly difficult. Amongst these were problems with my hearing which, although unresolved, are problems I have learned to live with. Indeed, in the great scheme of things, hearing issues really do pall into insignificance compared to the extraordinary difficulties so many have faced through the last year of pandemic.

I did seriously swither about writing any of this and indeed was advised by Albion (John) to simply start posting again as if nothing was more natural than such a "disappearance". It did seem however to be important to my own sense of self-respect to offer some explanation and my profound apologies for my extended absence from a forum which meant so much to me.

I return as a very junior member and will make whatever contributions I can to topics of interest to me as appropriate. It will take me some time to look through the forum and acquaint myself with these topics. In the meantime my profound gratitude to all members and the administrators of the forum.
10  MEMBERS' CORNER / Members' wish lists & requests / Re: Vitezslav Novák's Symphonies on: August 02, 2019, 01:22:30 am
As is, unfortunately, his habit Greg K spoils his argument by his use of language chosen either deliberately to offend or accidentally having that effect.

He makes a point in relation to his perception of the musical merits of the Novak symphonies. Despite the sound quality of the off-air recordings available to us he is able to determine that the music is, in his opinion, mediocre in quality and therefore not worthy of being recorded. That is a valid position to adopt. On the evidence which exists these are not masterpieces of Czech music. There is a lot of Czech music which could not be so described which has been recorded. Virtually everything that Martinu, for example, composed has now made it to cd (including very early compositions which do not reflect the composer's later style). These were thought worth recording in order, presumably, to present a fuller picture of Martinu the composer.

What those of us who have an interest in Novak would like is to have the opportunity to hear the symphonies in modern recordings, played with as much conviction as is possible, in order to make up our own minds once and for all.

He spoils his argument by giving gratuitous offence. I have no objection to being called "a completist". It is a perfectly accurate (if not necessarily helpful) description of my attitudes to recording neglected music. To add, however, the word "fanatic" is a different matter.

The word "fanatic" is defined in terms of "excessive". Indeed Greg K, by self-evident implication, goes on to make clear his ability and my inability to "discriminate". By quoting me directly it is perfectly clear to whom the description is intended to apply.

(Apparently Greg K has now accepted his lack of judgment in using the word "fanatics" and has replaced it with "enthusiasts". Most of this post was written in response to his orginal version. He is however incapable of recognising how incredibly patronising it is to refer to his previous "advice" to "re-engage with the music in a critical fashion".)

I have never made any attempt to disguise my enthusiasms. I make no apology for them. I recognise, even if I do not share, the enthusiasms of other members for the music which particularly interests them. I might find some of the music of, let us say for example, certain obscure Ukrainian or Polish or Russian composers "rather mediocre and unmemorable" (to use Greg K's expression). But that would be a personal response I would see no reason to share.

This is not the first time that such comments have been made about such a particular perception of my lack of discrimination, judgment and taste. Indeed it has been a constant refrain which has become tedious in the extreme.

Greg K's last sentence is staggering. Record companies like CPO in Germany or Toccata in the UK issue a monthly batch of new recordings of music by composers, many of whom are completely unknown, music which by no stretch of the imagination is all earth-shatteringly good. Companies like Chandos and Dutton have issued almost every scrap of music (some of it actually discarded by the composers themselves) of music by composers like Bax or Vaughan Williams. These companies, presumably, have a rationale for their release decisions. To suggest that the "listeners" share his perceptions of what is or is not "mediocre and unmemorable" and therefore "not especially worthy of advocacy and revival" is quite astonishing.

To debate endlessly whether or not Greg K's opinions of the merits or, almost inevitably, lack of merit in the music of particular composers are to be taken as having more weight than my desire to have the opportunity to hear the music properly is not an exercise I have the time, energy or inclination to engage upon. He clearly believes that he has a capacity for discrimination which extends far beyond mine and which has to be assumed to override my enthusiasms. He is the arbiter of what is worth recording and what is not.

On that basis further discussion is pointless........
11  MEMBERS' CORNER / Members' wish lists & requests / Re: Vitezslav Novák's Symphonies on: July 30, 2019, 11:35:45 pm
I entirely agree that the absence of the two Novak symphonies from the cd repertoire is quite astonishing. It is extraordinary that no record company has taken them up or shows any inclination to do so. Sad!
12  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Vienna on: July 18, 2019, 12:36:02 am
But should Moscow audiences be expected to have heard of Birtwistle? (I ask objectively, not sarcastically or critically)

I wish I hadn't heard of him Wink (That is a joke of course Smiley)

In response to Neil's post, first of all Sir James MacMillan has done very well in terms of cd releases of his music; most of his works can be obtained commercially. More importantly however, Neil is quite correct in referring to the impossibility of having a comprehensive knowledge of the entire repertoire. I know the names of a very considerable number of composers and have catalogued the orchestral music of hundreds of them. But my knowledge of opera, chamber music, instrumental music is almost non-existent. It has also become clear that there are indeed vast numbers of composers (particularly from Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia) of whom I have never heard. And my "knowledge" of the 20th century composers of orchestral music-which is my particular area of interest-is at best "shallow". I know the names of composers. I have listened to as much of their music as I have had time to do. But "comprehensive knowledge" is not something I could ever claim.

And how much more is this true for executants. They are required to have real, in-depth knowledge of the music they perform. It is impossible for them to know much, if anything, of the music of composers they do not perform. I was shocked when I learned that the conductor of two British symphonies recently released on cd had, previous to being contracted to make the recordings, never heard a single note of that composer's music. Shocked because I had the notion that he had some obligation to have listened to the off-air recordings of the composer's music available here or on You Tube. Was this fair? Of course not! There are only so many hours in a day and only so much of an individual's life which can be devoted to listening to music. If executants have to study the music they are playing-as they obviously do-then a wide knowledge of the repertoire is extremely difficult.

It is for this reason that I so admire those conductors who were continually broadening their repertoire to include the neglected and the obscure.
13  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Coming broadcasts and listen-later links / Re: Christopher Gunning Symphony 2 on: July 18, 2019, 12:10:04 am
Gunning's 2nd Symphony is being broadcast on BBC Radio 3 this afternoon, performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Kenneth Woods.
This is the only early Gunning Symphony  not commercially recorded - is there a chance that anyone could record it and make it available here, please?
Or, might this performance be a prelude to a commercial recording anyway?

Just in case you hadn't noticed- a recording of the broadcast of the Gunning Symphony No.2 has been posted in the Downloads section.
14  DOWNLOADS ARRANGED BY NATIONALITY / Downloads: discussion without links should be posted here, for the access of both members and non-members alike / Re: British and Irish Music on: July 17, 2019, 12:04:34 am
Through the generosity of PJ I have been able to post links to Christopher Gunning's Symphony No.2.

Should this broadcast be issued commercially the links will be removed.
15  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Re: David Matthews Symphony No.9 on: July 15, 2019, 05:34:14 pm
I posted on the Musicweb Noticeboard about the non-appearance of the disc containing the Symphony No.8, "A Vision of the Sea" and "Toward Sunrise". In response Ralph Couzens of Chandos posted to say that Chandos had no plans to issue such a disc-this despite the apparent original plan to do so as indicated on the composer's own website in 2016.

In a combination of confusion, embarrassment and alarm I emailed David Matthews to seek clarity. David has just responded.

The cd will be issued by Signum in June 2020.

Although it will be disappointing to have to wait another full year for the disc at least we now have the clarity sought! Why the change of label? David did not say and it would now be best to pass over this in silence.
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