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Three Choirs Festival 2021


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Author Topic: Three Choirs Festival 2021  (Read 510 times)
Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« on: May 01, 2021, 10:13:53 am »

The programme has been announced for the Worcester Three Choirs Festival (24th July - 1st August):

https://3choirs.org/whats-on/

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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2021, 11:10:03 am »

Thank you, John. I see at first glance that SC-T gets at least a mention in a talk! I will look through the programme in more detail later.
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2021, 11:58:24 am »

There are some programmes here that make me wish I lived in Worcester. Not only SC-T's Clarinet Quintet (which seems very close to be becoming a standard repertoire work) but also his Solemn Prelude op 40 (which was composed for 1899 festival and which I have never heard) in a wonderful concert, the main work in which is Armstong Gibbs' choral Symphony No 2 ‘Odysseus’.  There's also a fair smattering of Elgar (not least The Music Makers) and a recital devoted almost entirely to the piano music of Herbert Howells, whose Cello Concerto later on shares a programme with Belshazzar's Feast and John Ireland's The Forgotten Rite. And lots more besides to gladden the heart and lift the spirits. I hope the BBC outside broadcast vans are in attendance...
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2021, 02:16:50 pm »

Not only SC-T's Clarinet Quintet (which seems very close to be becoming a standard repertoire work) but also his Solemn Prelude op 40 (which was composed for 1899 festival and which I have never heard) in a wonderful concert, the main work in which is Armstong Gibbs' choral Symphony No 2 ‘Odysseus’.

Hearing the Solemn Prelude is a wonderful prospect (as is another performance of the Armstrong Gibbs) and I'm sure will warrant a broadcast. I wonder where an off-air recording might end up...

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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2021, 02:36:55 pm »


Hearing the Solemn Prelude is a wonderful prospect (as is another performance of the Armstrong Gibbs) and I'm sure will warrant a broadcast. I wonder where an off-air recording might end up...

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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2021, 04:02:33 pm »

He got the commission for the Solemn Prelude on the strength of the huge popular and critical success of his Ballade in A minor at the 1898 Three Choirs Festival - it will be fascinating to see how the Solemn Prelude measures up to this...

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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2021, 05:04:08 pm »

He got the commission for the Solemn Prelude on the strength of the huge popular and critical success of his Ballade in A minor at the 1898 Three Choirs Festival - it will be fascinating to see how the Solemn Prelude measures up to this...

 Smiley
Yes, indeed. Given Novello's history in such matters it's quite an achievement for the orchestral librarian to track down the parts; as usual, while the string parts were printed, the wind parts and full score were only available in MS on hire from the publisher. If the parts are still available through Chester/Novello I'd be surprised. However, SC-T's MS full score is in the British Library and so if authentic new parts had to be created it would have been possible to do so.

I have read through SC-T's piano reduction at IMSLP; of course, he was a composer who thought orchestrally and it's documented that he didn't use the piano when composing. The piano reduction is decidedly clunky when viewed as piano music and although his wonderful skill as an orchestrator would have clothed this monochromatic version in glorious colours the detail of which we can only guess at (at least until 27 July!) the structure of the piece is, of course, clear and it reads to me as a very grand affair indeed. In one way, it's typical of its composer in terms of his use of thematic transformation and his clever modulations into a succession of remote keys. However, it's unusual in that he keeps to the same Lento tempo throughout, obviously keen to maintain the solemn mood indicated by the title.

An interesting factoid is that the Solemn Prelude was dedicated to Nicholas Kilburn, friend of Elgar (and dedicatee of The Music Makers).
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Albion
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2021, 05:10:43 pm »

I have read through SC-T's piano reduction at IMSLP

I've provided the IMSLP link in the individual composer thread.

Presumably S C-T did his own transcriptions of his orchestral works. The piano score of the Symphonic Variations on an African Air, Op.63 (1906) "plays" much better (it's a glorious piece and well worth tracking down in the performance by Grant Llewellyn and the RLPO originally on Argo 436 401-2)...

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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2021, 05:22:51 pm »

I have read through SC-T's piano reduction at IMSLP

I've provided the IMSLP link in the individual composer thread.

Presumably S C-T did his own transcriptions of his orchestral works. The piano score of the Symphonic Variations on an African Air, Op.63 (1906) "plays" much better...

 Smiley


Thanks, John. I intended to do that but it fell out of my head before I got to it! I find that these days unless I do something immediately I think of it, it doesn't happen! Old age is not for cissies.  Wink

Yes, SC-T did his own transcriptions and you are right about the Symphonic Variations on an African Air playing much better. (It goes without saying that I agree with what you write about its being a glorious piece, and that the performance by Grant Llewellyn and the RLPO is top-notch.) I suspect that the variation in standard between one transcription and another had to do with the time that the poor man had available to undertake the task; I'm sure he'd have been unwilling to pay someone else to do it as he was frequently so strapped for cash. 
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Albion
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2021, 08:35:15 am »

Given Novello's history in such matters [of wanton destruction] it's quite an achievement for the orchestral librarian to track down the parts; as usual, while the string parts were printed, the wind parts and full score were only available in MS on hire from the publisher. If the parts are still available through Chester/Novello I'd be surprised. However, SC-T's MS full score is in the British Library and so if authentic new parts had to be created it would have been possible to do so.

Lewis Foreman's Lost and Only Sometimes Found tells a grim tale of full scores (including autographs) being dumped outside Novello's in skip-fulls which he had to try to rescue. Other publishers were apparently just as culpable...

https://www.ism.org/features/lost_and_only_sometimes_found

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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2021, 09:44:07 am »

Given Novello's history in such matters [of wanton destruction] it's quite an achievement for the orchestral librarian to track down the parts; as usual, while the string parts were printed, the wind parts and full score were only available in MS on hire from the publisher. If the parts are still available through Chester/Novello I'd be surprised. However, SC-T's MS full score is in the British Library and so if authentic new parts had to be created it would have been possible to do so.

Lewis Foreman's Lost and Only Sometimes Found tells a grim tale of full scores (including autographs) being dumped outside Novello's in skip-fulls which he had to try to rescue. Other publishers were apparently just as culpable...

https://www.ism.org/features/lost_and_only_sometimes_found

 Shocked
It's heart-breaking.

Now, if anyone deserves a knighthood for services to British music, it's Lewis Foreman.
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Albion
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2021, 09:49:35 am »

Now, if anyone deserves a knighthood for services to British music, it's Lewis Foreman.

How true! I am incredulous that the same honour wasn't given to Vernon Handley and Richard Hickox during their lifetimes...

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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2021, 09:54:15 am »

Now, if anyone deserves a knighthood for services to British music, it's Lewis Foreman.

How true! I am incredulous that the same honour wasn't given to Vernon Handley and Richard Hickox during their lifetimes...

 Roll Eyes
Agreed.
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2021, 07:24:03 pm »

He got the commission for the Solemn Prelude on the strength of the huge popular and critical success of his Ballade in A minor at the 1898 Three Choirs Festival - it will be fascinating to see how the Solemn Prelude measures up to this...

 Smiley
The first performance of the Solemn Prelude in 1899 shared a programme with the first performance of the revised version of Elgar's Enigma Variations; now that's a concert for which I'd want to hitch a lift in Albion's time machine. Interestingly, Elgar found time to write to August Jaeger that "Taylor's prelude went well...  I revelled in the opening & the close but I could not 'sequentiate' (!)the middle: he is a dear chap & it's all so human and yearning". That seems to indicate that this is a work worth hearing.

Catherine Carr in her Durham Ph.D. thesis on SC-T writes of the Solemn Prelude that: "...the scale of Coleridge-Taylor's conception is largely symphonic; indeed the piece has more in common with those expansive slow movements of late nineteenth-century symphonists such as Tchaikovsky (notably the 'Pathetique', the key of which is shared by Solemn Prelude) which are dominated by two well defined, self-developing melodies in a largely rhapsodic form that is enhanced by the arresting effects of unexpected modulation... and by the sheer impact of the climactic material at the heart of the developmental phase. Moreover, Coleridge-Taylor's melodic style here is shot through with sequential writing (even more so than the secondary material of the Ballade), the contours of which strongly resemble Elgar's penchant for falling sixths and sevenths, and the dissonant appoggiaturas and passing notes in many ways anticipate those thoroughly distinctive gestures of Elgar's later style. Indeed this piece, with its sedate, introspective yet probing sentiment shares a profundity with the slow movement of Elgar's Second Symphony and the much-neglected Coronation March of 1911".

That augurs pretty well too!
 
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2021, 07:11:04 am »

Elgar found time to write to August Jaeger that "Taylor's prelude went well...  I revelled in the opening & the close but I could not 'sequentiate' (!)the middle: he is a dear chap & it's all so human and yearning". That seems to indicate that this is a work worth hearing.

It certainly sounds like a substantial piece from Coleridge-Taylor's "halcyon" years when he was regarded as a rising star in the musical firmament. Well worth resurrecting, I'd say: hopefully the Three Choirs Festival performance in Worcester Cathedral will roll away the stone...



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