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196  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: July 13, 2009, 12:17:53 am
I imagine something or someone is being criticised here, but it's not clear what, who or why - apart, possibly, from the piece you haven't heard.
197  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: July 11, 2009, 10:58:49 am
Here - in response to a request from a Member - we might discuss a couple of orchestral pieces by the northern American man Ives (1874-1954), which were broadcast several times in the sixties: the Unanswered Question (1906) and the Tone Roads number three (1913).

It has been suggested since then that he suffered poor thing from a form of homo-phobia (not to be confused with hydrophobia) - see for example the discussion here.

But when it comes to the crunch a little Ives every fifty years can do no impressionable youth very much harm can it.

Very many thanks, Gerard! - and also for the link to the discussion.

I should perhaps point out that it was I who enquired if Gerard possessed Ives' Tone Roads no.3, Over the pavements and The unanswered question broadcast in 1965 in performances by the South-West German Radio Orchestra conducted by Bruno Maderna. (The presenter was Eric Roseberry). This impressionable youth certainly suffered no harm as a result of this broadcast, indeed, the first two pieces in particular were responsible for some kind of awakening regarding what could be achieved in music. So it was a great pleasure to be reminded of Maderna's version of The unanswered question (Gerard's Tone roads no.3 is a later concert version which I recognise but can't place (Harold Farberman?) - the hesitant, unsure trombone playing rings a bell).

I had thought my own copies of Maderna's performances to be unlistenable: they're certainly not good, but not as bad as I thought.

Here's Tone roads no.3 which is given the kind of kick-the-door-down performance of which I'm sure Ives would have approved. It remains the best account I've heard.

And Over the pavements. I like this performance too, even though it's slower than most. The trombones are used in both repetitions of the main section which is not what the score indicates but seems like a sound decision.

Did Maderna make any other recordings of Ives' music? Or perform any other works of his? They're nor perfect in every detail - many will notice, for instance, that the last trumpet note of The unanswered question is a B rather than a C (the only published score available at that time had this misprint), thus harmonising with the final G major chord of the strings and leading one to suspect that the "question" has been "answered" . . .

For lovers of trivia: the Ives catalogue ( states that the first documented performance of Tone Roads no.3 (and, for that matter, Over the pavements) was in a concert conducted by Jim Tenney on 30/12/63. Anybody who attended a concert at the Friends House, Euston Road, London NW1 on 18/10/63 would have heard this and other Ives pieces under the baton of John White.

Off-topic moment: White's piano concerto was premiered in the same 1963 concert and earned a review of which he is proud to this day - "Given a sound thrashing by Nadia Boulanger, Litolff might have written this work – and similarly chastened, Mr. White would have done better. But for an RCM professor to publicise this pot-pourri of feeble tunes, fidgety harmonies and rambling, purposeless key-changes, even if unprecedented, will never do.” Reviewing's gone downhill since then, hasn't it?
198  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: June 19, 2009, 09:23:19 pm
Last week I mentioned Donald Banks's 1965 Divisions for orchestra; but his Sonata da Camera of 1961 is described in the New Grove as "one of his finest and most characteristic works."

I rather enjoyed this! It seemed to have a lot more going for it than some of barren-sounding contemporaneous avant-gradists. But perhaps I'm becoming an old fogey?

Oh. I've just enjoyed the Donatoni also.

199  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: June 17, 2009, 09:38:28 am
Many thanks for these, Gerard!

Here are a few notes about the Thomson:-

The sonata da Chiesa (1926), scored for the unusual combination of viola, E-flat clarinet, D trumpet, horn and trombone, was the last piece Thomson finished under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger. It was first performed in Paris (along with works by Copland, Piston and several other members of the “Boulangerie”) before an audience that included James Joyce, Albert Roussel, Ludwig Lewisohn, Walter Damrosch and Roger Sessions.

Thomson himself reviewed this Sonata in a letter home to his Harvard friend Briggs Buchanan. The first movement, he wrote, “sounds like nothing else on earth”; the second movement “is the popular success.” “The fugue,” he concluded, “though most admired by the general listener, is in the author's opinion, the least satisfactory. A more melodic and less symmetrical development of the first subject would have made a more living organization. Also the clarification of the harmony at more frequent intervals would give it a repose which it lacks.”

Overall, though, critic Thomson was well-satisfied with composer Thomson: “Leaving aside two ill-advised experiments, the instrumentation is unquestionably a knockout. The choral is a genuine new idea, the other movements decently satisfactory...The public awaits (or ought to) with eagerness Mr. Thomson's next work.”

And there's more to be found here
200  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: June 14, 2009, 02:39:41 pm
Indeed, Mr autoharp does possess a recording. It's probably more proper if I PM it.
201  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: June 14, 2009, 08:53:24 am
Thanks for reviving Cardew's Bun no.2. Some bloke named Dave Smith made a 2-piano version a few years back.
202  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: June 10, 2009, 11:06:25 pm
I'll catch up with these over the weekend. In the meantime, many thanks for the Blomdahl which reminded me how delightfully perverse this composer can be. I was less impressed by the Banks: his "serious" 12-notery often sounds as though he would really prefer to be writing more jazzy numbers - as indeed he did at times.
203  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Performance and technique / Re: Carried away or carrying on? on: June 09, 2009, 07:52:11 am
It's not a usual conducting technique, but Nicolas Slominsky certainly did it when conducting certain Ives pieces, most probably Putnam's Camp from 3 places in New England which contains a passage for two parts of the orchestra playing in different tempi.
204  ARCHIVED TOPICS / The listener / Re: Broadcast rarities from days gone by on: June 08, 2009, 07:40:51 am
Many thanks for that, Gerald! I look forward to hearing more of your collection.

On the subject of Blomdahl, Aniara can be located within the following stash -
205  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: Wagner - with passing mention of Rossini and Grainger on: May 28, 2009, 10:41:35 am
I'm unacquainted with Grainger's output, except for his tinkly COUNTRY GARDENS stuff... I'd like to hope that there is more to him than this?
  There most certainly is!
206  ARCHIVED TOPICS / Theory and tradition / Re: What's the difference between Thomas Beecham and Roger Norrington? on: May 25, 2009, 09:51:12 am
I have to say I have not found myself that 'the more we know about how music was performed when it was new, the better insight we have into that music. '

The inaccuracy of that statement is borne out by Ian's post above. It may not affect how the work is performed today, but knowing about the circumstances of its inception certainly aids "insight" I would have thought.

I think the great performances of Mozart and Beethoven (and Schubert's piano sonatas) began in the 20th , when musicians had the knowledge and the instruments to do them  justice

20th century performances may be different, but what's your evidence for denying that "great performances" of these works didn't happen earlier?

when the composers  wrote, they were ahead of their time. .
Sorry, I don't buy that at all! No composer is "ahead of his time".
207  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: Purcell on: May 07, 2009, 08:02:29 am
Roger Covey Crump (indeed a name to be conjured with)

Rogers Covey Crump - even more jugglable.
208  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: The music of Maximilian Reger on: May 06, 2009, 12:42:26 pm
Now here's an interesting discovery: I had not previously associated Reger with the happily berserk -

It's thePhantasie uber B-A-C-H op46
209  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: The music of Maximilian Reger on: May 03, 2009, 09:09:48 am
So what are the recommended works of Reger? Or is he a composer of the odd gem in the midst of a bunch of semi-interesting works?

One work that suggests that he's a composer worth investigating is the Latin Requiem op 145a. Intended to be a huge piece, but he only left a bit. And a big bit it is too.

Here's an old radio broadcast. The sound quality is not wonderful (apologies for that), but it's certainly worth a listen.
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