Sunday, 29 April 2012

Centenary of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor II

The Chamber music of Samuel Coleridge Taylor is not often played or even performed however being the  the centenary of his death is a good excuse to upload another of his works.

Coleridge-Taylor:  Sonata in D Minor Op. 28

Albert Sammons, violin & William Murdoch, piano
Columbia L 1396 & L 1397 
[75860-1, 75861-1, 75862-1, 75863-1]
Recorded May 1917

3 Flac files in a .rar file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 46Mb]

There is a paucity of information on this work but I have garnered together the contemporary accounts. The first performance took place in 1898.

The Musical Times January 1899 issue, under the heading British Chamber Concerts, has the following notice:-  'The fifth season of this  praiseworthy and  patriotic enterprise was concluded on the 14th [December 1898],  at  the Queens (Small) Hall  … The concert on the 14th ult. was opened by a meritorious interpretation,  by Messrs. Ernest Fowles, Jasper Sutcliffe, Leonard Fowles, and Paul Ludwig, of Gerard F. Cobb's Pianoforte Quartet in E (Op. 34), and was made specially distinctive by the first performance of a Sonata in D minor (Op. 28) for pianoforte and violin, by Mr. Coleridge-Taylor. This work fully maintains the reputation which this gifted young composer has so early acquired. The music seems to have much to express, and the three movements, severally headed  allegro ma non tanto,  "Lament" Larghetto, and Allegro vivo con fuoco,  the last terminating with a mourful section entitled Alla  moresco, tell a tale that appears to range over the whole scale of sentiment. The "Lament" is  really beautiful and seems to  "give sorrow words." The work was sympathetically interpreted  by Mr. Ernest Fowles and Mr. Jasper Sutcliffe, and should be heard again at an  early date.

Alas this appears to be the works only performance during Coleridge-Taylor's lifetime. The work was revived during the First World War again The Musical Times of April 1916 reports on the performance:-  'The All British Concerts run by Mr. de Lara have maintained activity in a good cause. A Sonata in D minor for pianoforte and violin by Coleridge-Taylor was played on [March 23 1916]. It had rested for seventeen years, and deserved revival.’ I also hope to return someday to Isidore de Lara (1858-1935) and his All British Concerts of 1916-1919  held in the main at London Steinway Hall but must press on!

Albert Sammons
William Murdoch

The same periodical  in May of the following year recorded the next performance also :- 'A large audience was attracted on April 14 [1917], to hear Mr. Albert Sammons and Mr. William Murdoch perform three Sonatas for violin and pianoforte. The first was the charming Beethoven Sonata in F, Op. 34. The second item was a quasi novelty. It was a MS. Sonata in D minor by the late S. Coleridge Taylor, which, it appears, was composed before 1898, because in that year it was produced by Mr. Ernest Fowles. It is a melodious and generally attractive work which, now that it has been revived by such a fine performance as it received on this occasion, will be heard again and again. The third Sonata was that by John Ireland, which not long ago was awarded a prize.… .'

Additional  information on the sonata and the above performances can be found in W.W. Cobbett's Cyclopaedia of Chamber Music OUP, 1930, Vol. II p. 490:-  'The chamber music of Coleridge Taylor was nearly all composed while still a pupil of Stanford at the R.C.M., where he gained an open scholarship for composition in 1893. Previous to this year he devoted himself principally to the study of the violin, and his knowledge of this instrument was of the greatest service to him in the writing of concerted music. Whilst most of the students of his period were modelling their chamber works upon those of Brahms, Coleridge Taylor, almost alone amongst contemporary English composers, was strongly influenced by the music of Dvorak. There was, indeed, a close affinity in his style with that of the famous bohemian. A colourist rather than a draughtsman in music, Coleridge Taylor's melodic invention was always rhythmic and fluent, and there was often a peculiarly attractive glow in his harmonic schemes. His chamber music, while exhibiting admirable ease and decision, is more remarkable for fluency and warmth of feeling than for depth of thought or serious expression. The Sonata for piano and violin, edited by Albert Sammons, was published during the war by permission of Mr Ernest Fowles (who possessed the MS.), and produced at one of the de Lara concerts, played by Harriet Cohen and Winifred Small. W.W. Cobbett, who handed various donations to composers whose works were played at these concerts, awarded the prize in this particular instance to Coleridge Taylor's widow – perhaps a unique circumstance. The composer is not heard quite at his best in this work, which is more in the nature of a light suite than a sonata; nevertheless, his strong individuality is felt throughout, and it has considerable charm.'

The only review I have located so far of the recording is again from The Musical Times (my bedtime reading)  in the February 1921 issue by 'Discus':- ‘Coleridge-Taylor's Sonata in D minor for violin and pianoforte, played by Sammons and Murdoch, is a very successful reproduction on two d.-s. records. As usual in this type of record the violin comes oft best, but the balance is well up to the average, and with two such players, the tuneful work is made the most of.'

The recording was made in  May 1917, however the issue was delayed until January & February 1921. Why it took four years to issue may have been due to the major fire in May 1918 at Columbia's factory at Brendon Valley. The issue of new titles did not begin to be issued again until November 1918 and throughout 1919 records were issued as soon as they became available, irrespective of original catalogue number. The Sonata on L1396 & L1397 was therefore not processed until november 1920 and issued over the two months of January  & February 1921. The recording was substituted in August 1923 by the another performance of the Sonata with Arthur Catterall and William Murdoch, (Sammons having gone over to Æolian Vocalion by this time) this lasted until deletion in April 1927. In the early 1920s quite a number of Columbia records were replaced with better recordings however in this case I strongly suspect that the recording speed was a major reason for substitution. Although the labels state 'Speed 80' the first side starts at 85 and then as the performance progresses the speed gradually has to rise to 94 at the close to stay in pitch, thus it starts off a semi-tone down and ends two full tones down! 

You will be glad to hear I have managed to sort this problem out on the transfer. Only one other recording has been made since these early attempts on the Dutton label

Cartoon inscribed by members of the Beecham Orchestra in 1911
among them the then leader Albert Sammons. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Never believe what it says on the label....

Well this recording is indeed incomplete as well as mis-titled so proved a bit of a challenge all round - I have cleaned the sound up but the acetates are a bit worn and I did not want be too intrusive. I have left the sides just as they are so be warned the music suddenly stops and starts in places. In all 24 minutes were recorded so the performance is missing something over 6 minutes.

Schubert:  String Quartet No.8, D. 112

New Italian String Quartet

Four sides on two acetate discs
Originally recorded at the Freemason's Hall, Edinburgh
Wednesday, 29th August 1951
Score from IMSLP

1 Flac file HERE at Mediafire. [about 68Mb].

I have reversed out picture of the disc's centre as the yellow crayon is a bit indistinct but what it states is 'Quartet in F  K.590 1st mov. New Italian 4/3/52.'

Now if you want to know this very, very long winded process of identification then by all means read on!

Having listened to this it certainly was not the Mozart or Beethoven as advertised on the BBC Third Programme for 11pm on Monday 4th of March 1952. I do not know what caused the error, wither it was a last minute change to the programme, someone making the wrong announcement (unlikely) or the anonymous person who made these discs getting it wrong - clearly whoever recorded it was  blissfully unaware of the mistake for the paper sleeves also have the Mozart K.590 written on them.

Anyway thanks to CharmNick for instantly spotting the composition, I can only admit to knowing the 'tune' and probably would have worked it out in the end, but deferred to The Chamber Music expert! [My wife tells me I'm an oily so and so]

On board SS Liberté (French Line), 1951

I only hoped this was actually the Italian Quartet playing as another oddity about this recording is that the schedule calls the players 'The New Italian Quartet,' they had however changed their name to just plain Italian Quartet or indeed Quartetto Italiano by 1952. Also 11pm on Monday night is an odd time to have a live audience so I suspect the recording must have been made earlier, but when or indeed where. The records came from Edinburgh and they came with a batch of other transcriptions of various Edinburgh Festival items from the 1950s so I suspect that they may also be transcriptions from a performance first broadcast from the Edinburgh Festival of 1951 and so thanks to Google News I pin-pointed the answer to this seeming conundrum. The following  extract is by Harold Thomson, music critic of the The Glasgow Herald, published on the 30th August 1951 reviewing the performance of the morning of the Wednesday 29th.

'New Italian Quartet Delights: Some of the finest playing of the Edinburgh Festival has bean heard from the New Italian Quartet, who gave the second of their two morning concerts in the Freemasons' Hall yesterday. Well matched in tone and temperament, they have maintained a consistently high standard in works of widely differing character, and in particular their soft playing will long be remembered by those who heard it. Their second programme began with Mozart's Adagio and Fugue in C minor K 546. …Schubert early Quartet In B flat Opus 168 (" done in 4½ hours." according to the composer), was rather sentimentally treated to begin with, but the menuetto and finale had rhythmic grip as well as delicacy in the quieter passages.' The last item in the concert was Schumann's Quartet in  F major.

I don't have a copy of the recording issued in April 1954 on Decca LXT 2855 but it would be interesting to see how their commercial performance compares.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Something from the East

Landon Ronald:  The Garden of Allah 
1. Prelude 2. In an Eastern Garden
3. Kyrie Eleison 4. Dance of the Ouled Nail

Royal Albert Hall Orchestra cond. by Landon Ronald
(Violin solo in '2' by Arthur Beckwith)

HMV D 488 & D 489 
[HO 4496'-1 af, HO4497-2 af, HO4498-2 af and HO 4499-1 af]
Recorded Saturday,17th July 1920
4 Flac files in a .rar file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 48Mb].

In 1920 Drury Lane put on one of its best and most spectacular melodramas. The bare bones of this ludicrous story that had been adapted from Robert Hichens book The Garden of Allah are thus.

A Trappist monk, Father Antoine, after nineteen years in a Tunisian monastery, breaks his vows and, under the name of Boris Androvsky, goes off in search of love and adventure. He meets a devout Catholic Englishwoman, Domini Enfilden, and, following a clumsy wooing, made more difficult by a remnant of religious scruples, be marries her and retires to the desert, where he and she live an idyllic life until Count Anteoni, himself in love with Domini, comes to trouble things. Anteoni discovers that Androvsky is the recusant monk and persuades him to tell the truth to Domini, who, although she is to become a mother, conducts her husband back to the monastery and leaves him there. Whatever the silliness of the plot the play was a great hit and three films came out in 1916, 1927 and the last in 1936 which starred Marlene Dietrich, Charles Boyer and Basil Rathbone. However by this time the music of Ronald would have seemed outdated and a new score was composed by Max Steiner.

The play included sheep, goats, donkeys, a white horse, five camels, and a baby camel for prancing about the stage, all apparently purchased in North Africa especially for the performance. Lasting four hours and included a sandstorm, the first night they forgot to bring down the gauss netting and the front ten rows had to be dug out and brushed down before the play could continue. Later in the run  the  RSPCA took the theatre to court over cruelty to camels but lost the case.

Landon Ronald was commissioned to write the incidental music for the play and the close proximity of dates  between the plays début on the 26th of June 1920 and the recording on the 17th of July may mean the music is actually much the same. A first concert performance was given at the Proms with the New Queen's Hall Orchestra on 14th September 1920, roughly about the same time as the records were issued by HMV. The music, to tell the truth, was a bit of a pot boiler and although the records would have had an initial success I would think sales dwindled once the play was no longer being staged. The records remained in the catalogue and where deleted in 1925.

Dutton have issued the second number 'In an Eastern Garden' but the other three sides I don't think have ever been reissued and the only other recording of the work I am aware of is this same excerpt played by Dan Godfrey & The Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra.

Only the last side needs some elucidation as it takes place in a Dancing House in the Street of the Ouled Nails in Beni-Mora.

The Dancing House from  the 1911 play

According to a synopsis of the play from 1911 the music accompanied the scene when a 'dancing woman had observed Father Antoine, and presently she began slowly to wriggle towards him between the rows of Arabs, fixing her eyes upon him and parting her scarlet lips in a greedy smile. As she came on, the stranger evidently began to realize that he was her bourne. A dark flush rose on his face and even flooded his forehead to his low-growing hair. His eyes were full of a piteous anxiety and discomfort, and he glanced almost guiltily to right and left of him as if he expected the hooded Arab spectators to condemn his presence there now that the dancer drew their attention to it. The dancer noticed his confusion and seemed pleased by it, and moved to more energetic demonstrations of her art. She lifted her arms above her head, half closed her eyes, assumed an expression of languid ecstasy and slowly shuddered. Then, bending backward, she nearly touched the floor, swung round, still bending, and showed the long curve of her bare throat to the stranger, while the girls, huddled on the bench by the musicians, suddenly roused themselves and joined their voices in a shrill and prolonged twitter. The Arabs did not smile, but the deepness of their attention seemed to increase like a cloud growing darker. All the luminous eyes in the room were steadily fixed upon the man leaning back against the hideous picture on the wall and the gaudy siren curved almost into an arch before him. The musicians blew their hautboys and beat their tom-toms more violently, and all things, Domini thought, were filled with a sense of climax.'

Well that all sounds pretty amazing.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Centenary of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Well not only this year did the Titanic go down but also poor Coleridge-Taylor who succumbed to pneumonia a few days after collapsing at West Croydon Station in South London.

His music is quite out of fashion today and even in the first half of the 20th century very little of his output was recorded. Not to everyone's taste so I will spread the recording over the coming month or so.

Coleridge-Taylor:  Petite Suite de Concert, Op.77 (1911)
1. La Caprice de Nanette 2. Demande et réponse
3. Un sonnet d'amour 4. La tarantelle frétillante
De Groot and The Piccadilly Orchestra
HMV C1218 & C1233 
[Cc 6264-5 10th September 1925; Cc 6364-1 16th July 1925; 
Cc6957-1Cc6958-1 15 October 1925]
Piano Score at IMSLP

4 Flac files in a .rar file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 43Mb].

The records are kindly lent from:-  
CharmNick at Grumpy's Classic Cave

The earliest notice I have been able to find of a performance is recorded in The Musical Times of May 1911 'On  March 20 [1911],  a  new  amateur musical  organization, the  Birmingham Orchestral Society, gave  its  first concert  in  the  Temperance  Hall,  under  its  trainer and  conductor, Mr. Arthur Cooke, a  local pianist and teacher.  The hall does not lend itself acoustically to an orchestral concert, but one  was  nevertheless able  to judge  of the orchestra's capabilities, which promise greater things in the future.  One of the best things given was  Coleridge-Taylor's  picturesque 'Petite suite de Concert,' not heard in public previously.  Of the four movements, the first received the best exposition.' Oddly I discovered that eight measures of the opening suite were apparently suited to the 'Jealousy Theme' in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that 1923 blockbuster starring Rudolph Valentino. Sadly these arrangements are probably lost but one wonders at the dexterity and imagination of the arranger.

Almost a disc a month was produced by De Groot and the Piccadilly Orchestra during the 1920s mostly 10" light music but here two 12" records were needed, one issued in November 1925 ant the other in February 1926 as is clear from the matrix numbers there was quite a lot of difficulty obtaining a satisfactory recording with the new Western Electric recording process

Off for a week of work in the US (not on the Titanic, phew) so won't be able to play for a short while.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Something a bit longer

I have spent most of the day preparing a wall ready to be daubed with paint tomorrow and I have a dripping nose, so thought to listen to some Schubert for comfort. BBC Radio 3 has had wall-to-wall Schubert the week before last but I can't think they broadcast these performances. Another good blogger, Grumpy Nick is coming over tomorrow in order that we do Coleridge-Taylor Festival!

Schubert: Piano Trio in E-flat major, D.929 (Op.100)
Michael Raucheisen,  piano, Jani Szántó violin 
& Josef Disclez, cello
Polydor: 95225-95229 
[526bi IV-541 bi IV] 
Recorded 1928, Berlin
Score at IMSLP

Schubert: Ave Maria D. 839 
arr. for violin & piano by August Wilhelmj 
Georg Kulenkampff, violin & Franz Rupp, piano
Polydor: 95229 
[371 be] 
Recorded 1928, Berlin
Score at IMSLP

2 Flac files in a .rar file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 118Mb].

The labels on the records have the rather bizarre name of the group as Munich Chamber Music Combination. I know from the German catalogues and WERM that the members of the 'Combination' are in fact Raucheisen, Szántó and Disclez [biogs below]. The recording was undoubtedly issued as part of the great Schubert Centenary celebrations, each side with the usual 1928 copyright date on the discs. That the records could only be obtained in the UK and USA via specialist shops, or on special order has made them difficult to find, and unlike a great number of the Polydor issues, this particular set did not make an appearance on Brunswick or Decca labels. I do not believe it was reviewed in The Gramophone or reissued on CD.

The recording takes up nine sides so a ‘lollipop’ filled the tenth side. I know it is Ave Maria by Schubert but this performance by the violinist Georg Kulenkampff with Franz Rupp as his accompanist is utterly lovely,  portamento and rubato, what happened? why did we loose these so so human qualities in our music making for so long, big softy that I am. The trio is not half bad either just in case you think I’m slacking here. Note at the end of the Ave Maria someone is hammering!

Towards the end of the 19th century the school of Munich composers led by Ludwig Thuille began to gain a reputation which spread beyond the city. The representatives of the Munich school active in the early years of the 20th century, such as Courvoisier, von Franckenstein and von Waltershausen, were succeeded by Haas, Kaminski and others such as Fritz Büchtger, Karl Höller, Harald Genzmer, Günther Bialas, Wilhelm Killmayer and Josef Anton Riedl, while Carl Orff and Karl Amadeus Hartmann achieved international standing. (Cribbed from Grove) Something more for me to explore!

Below are biogs of the three performers, Raucheisen is well documented but I have found it difficult to locate much information on his partners in this recording; any further information gratefully recieved.

Michael Raucheisen

Michael Raucheisen (1889-1984) was born in Rain, Swabia From 1902 Raucheisen lived in Munich, and from 1920 until the end of his pianistic activity in 1958, in Berlin. He studied at the Munich High School for Music. Around 1906 he played first violin at the Prinzregententheater and was organist in St. Michael. In 1916 he focused exclusively on the role of the piano accompanist and from the beginning of the 1920s until the end of the Second World War he was song accompanist for many singers, including Frida Leider, Erna Berger, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Karl Schmitt-Walter, Karl Erb and Helge Rosvaenge, to mention only a few. From 1933 he strove to create a complete catalogue of German language songs on gramophone recordings, for which, from 1940, he became head of the department of song and chamber music at the Berlin Rundfunk. After the War he was banned from his work for some years on account of his possible collaboration with the Nazi regime, and afterwards he appeared only occasionally in public.

Jani Szántó

Jani Szántó (1887-1977), a Hungarian violinist he studied in Budapest, Vienna, and Leipzig and was  appointed professor at the State Academy of Music in Munich in 1918 and with Felix Saupe, Haas and Josef Disclez he form the Munich String Quartet in 1920. He had left Germany in 1939 to escape Nazi persecution, and became the director of the Philadelphia Musical Academy in 1943 there he remained the director until he retired in 1962.

Josef Disclez (1888-1955) was born at Namur, Belgium, trained at the Brussels Conservatoire and subsequently worked in Brussels, Berlin and Munich and from 1914 he was principle cellist in the Bavarian State orchestra and a professor at the State Academy of Music in Munich.

Friday, 6 April 2012

The fun of inflicting old records on innocent ears

This excerpt was  recorded some eighteen days before the world premier of the opera at Covent Garden. maybe better to listen to this before you read the comments below as we don't want any bias. The sound is quite poor for the period as I think the music may have been problematic to record.  

I had better  state that the music is still in copyright and thus downloading is technically illegal, but as it is but a sample of the work we may all survive the full weight of the law. ' I won't let it happen again officer.' 

I admit also this has been reissued on Dutton as part of a compilation but still another example won't hurt and this one is Free! The voice of Arthur Fear is distorted on the recording, he would have been recorded from a separate microphone and mixing was not an exact science in 1929, some wear on the grooves at this point hasn't helped either.

Eugene Goossens : Judith - Ballet Music. 
New Symphony Orchestra  & Arthur Fear, Baritone
conducted by Eugene Goossens.
HMV C 1706
[Cc 16661-2 , Cc16662-3A]
Recorded: 7th June 1929 at the Kingsway Hall, London 
I have joined the two sides together into one Flac file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 14Mb].

‘The collaboration of Arnold Bennett and Eugene Goossens which resulted in Judith proved to be most successful, and the opera, which was first performed at Covent Garden on June 25th, 1929, made a deep impression. The wild, barbaric atmosphere of the libretto is reflected in Goossens’ score, which is a masterpiece of orchestral writing. This is the first recorded performance of music from this interesting opera, being conducted by the composer, who is an exclusive “His Master’s Voice” artist, is authentic,. The richness of orchestral colouring and the fire and passion of the music will ensure this record wide popularity’

Well that is how the Mid-September HMV Supplement described this record. As for the rest of the press, well lets say it resolutely damned the work.

The Gramophone review of October 1929 did not pull any punches:- ‘I did not hear Judith, but I remember that nearly all accounts spoke ill of the ballet dancing, which was deemed unworthy of the occasion. Perhaps for that reason the music did not make quite its full effect. Without the stage pictures it is not possible to judge it properly, of course. To me it sounds wry, and wilfully so. Near the end of the first side [2:20] I am strongly reminded of the Punch and Judy fight in one of Goossens' early sets of sketches, Four Conceits, which Velvet Face recorded long ago, and which ought to be produced again. The second side [from 3:06] sounds rather more developed and logical. Arthur Fear, the bass, interjects a few resounding bars at one point. I am afraid most of us will not have a chance  to hear this opera ; it is unlikely to be revived ; so if any want to secure a souvenir of it now is the time. Though I cannot recommend this sample of the music I can praise the record for its presentation of the orchestral colours.'

Mmmm this all sounds a bit ominous as does the The Musical Times for August 1929 read on...

‘It is said at Holywood [sic] that a successful film invariably makes use of these ingredients: religious uplift, snobbery, and sex appeal; and the shortest scenario which has ever been written to this formula was, "My God," said the Duchess, "what legs!" Mr. Arnold Bennett has reduced the story of Judith to the same formula, with the addition of a murder to amplify it, and has handed it to Mr. Eugene Goossens to make into an opera. The conflict between the God of Israel and His pagan enemy is the main theme; instead of the Duchess we have the Oriental Court of Holofernes ; the legs of the Russian Ballet are there, and we have the seduction of Holofernes by Judith to lend further sex interest, while his murder by the same lady gives a good strong dramatic situation. So far, admirable; for we can have a soprano heroine whose varying passions give scope for coloratura, a contralto attendant to enunciate the obvious at the right places, a love duet, a ballet, an Oriental potentate who can rant and play the he-man, and a nice, modest baritone to be his victim. The only trouble about this perfect opera book is that it needs not merely music but the right kind of music. The right kind of music will be good, honest Italian stuff a la Tosca. Mr. Eugene Goossens is not Puccini, nor would he be if he could; he is not a nationalist composer at all, but one of the cosmopolitans who are at all costs dry …  I could quote yards of text here but it all basiscally says the same thing …'It is sad to have to write an obituary notice of yet another gallant attempt at creating a British opera. But facts are facts; the opera was still-born, and there is not likely to be any attempt at reviving that which never had any real operatic life in it.'

For anyone still reading, or indeed listening to this piece, I throw in a conversation that is completely unconnected and totally irrelevant to the work in hand that Goossens had with Elgar. When Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy was amazingly for that time included in a Three Choirs Festival programme at Gloucester Cathedral in 1922 Elgar suggested to Goossens:-
'Write a Festival Mass, Eugene, and atone for this outrage.'
'All right, Sir Edward, but Mother Church won't approve of my modernisms.'
'Never mind. I'll be in Heaven by then; I'll make it all right for you! Don't forget, plenty of  percussion in the Sanctus!'

More info on Eugene Goossens Here

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Not another Leonora No 3 - I need to get a life

Probably a bit cheeky of me putting up yet another version of Beethoven's Leonora No. 3 but as it may well be the first attempt at an extended piece of Beethoven,  in anything like a complete version, I think it needs an outing.

Beethoven : Leonora Overture No.3, Op.72b. 
H.M. Band of the Coldstream Guards  
conducted by John Mackenzie-Rogan 
G&T GC 2-262, 2-264, 2-265, 2-266
[6881e, 6882e, 6883e, 6884e]
Recorded: Nov/Dec 1907 

John Mackenzie-Rogan and the Coldstream Guards recorded extensively for the Gramophone & Typewriter Co. and later HMV.  Most of the output were marches popular hits and arrangements - true deckchair and bandstand stuff - that usually fitted onto one sided records but here the work had to be accommodated on four 10 inch sides.

The recordings are a bit of an oddity as who exactly was the intended audience - was G&T trying to break into the high brow market, but then would any self respecting person with 'musical taste' a) buy a band arrangement and b) even own a gramophone. The records in the UK were never doubled or indeed re-issued on the cheaper HMV 'B' & 'C' series that most band music was moved to from 1912. Real orchestral work remained on Black Label single-sided issues until 1918, that is they still cost real money.

I believe the records were withdrawn soon after the three NSO/Ronald discs had been issued so some demarcation lines were being drawn. The Gramophone Company was not about to keep records in the catalogues which either failed to attract an audience or failed to sell. Further, the price of these four discs came out at 5s each, while the three NSO Landon Ronald discs were 7s 6d each, so a band performance would set you back £1 and the orchestral version £1 3s 6d - for a bob & half a crown I think your average punter would go for the orchestra and so the band arrangement was doomed for deletion.

I have pitched the recording at A = 452Hz which was then the standard pitch for military bands, this means the original disc play at 75 rpm

Band records always seem to suffer more wear than most but I have cleaned it up as much as I really want to.

I have joined the four sides together into one Flac file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 36Mb]. Score if anyone would like to note the cuts and Wikipedia [Fidelio] entry.

Monday, 2 April 2012

OK two posts in two day - this will not last

Well being a bit of a truculent old soul at the best of times its a wonder I can get anything done whatsoever.

Beethoven : Leonora Overture No.3, Op.72b. 
New Symphony Orchestra conducted by Landon Ronald 
HMV 0701, 0702, 0703
[Ac5598f, Ac5599f, Ac5600f]
Recorded: Saturday, 21st October 1911 

This recording was, I believe, the second attempt at a full orchestral performance on 78s, the first, which I have not heard, was issued in Germany on the Anker label in the middle of 1911.

Landon Ronald was the conductor of the New Symphony Orchestra from 1911 to 1914. As musical advisor from 1900 and latterly chief house conductor to The Gramophone Company until his death in 1938 he was the most likely and willing person  to attempt a recording of a large scale orchestral piece in the cramped studio conditions of the acoustic recording period. The records lasted in the HMV catalogues until 1926 when they were superseded by Ronald electric recording of on HMV D1051-52.

I have downloaded the relevant pages of the HMV supplement for January 1912 available from the British Library as it is interest to see how this piece was marketed. Incidentally the writer mistakenly names the orchestra as the London Symphony Orchestra and indeed this recording may well have had a mixture of best players from various London orchestras.

The original 78s are somewhat battered, the first side has about 30 seconds when one side of the groove has been damaged, probably by a piece of swarf splitting off from a steel needle  ClickRepair software has done what it can but I feel it is better to leave the noise in.

I have joined the three sides together into one Flac file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 34Mb]. Score and Wikipedia [Fidelio] entry.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Oh dear another Blog

Well I'm bored faffing with my website so thought to post things on a blog instead - looks a lot less hassle. 

I should be putting records onto shelves, not playing the things, nevertheless I forgot I had this recording and don't think it has been reissued on CD and maybe someone else would like to here it.

Ippolitov-Ivanov : Caucasian Sketches, Op. 10. 
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Nicolai Malko 
HMV C 3936-3967
[2EA 13432-2; 2EA 13433-1;  2EA 13441-1; 2EA 13434-1]
Recorded: 5th & 8th November 1948
London, EMI Studio No. 1, Abbey Road

The The Gramophone of December 1949 gave it a good review:-

'It is some years since I heard these impressions, the work of a romantic composer steeped in Russian peasant art. The set is splendidly reproduced, under a conductor who seems in the happiest relations with the music.

'The rich, warm colour is entirely happy: evocative, cleanly linined, full-toned, with a sense of hearty life brimming in the people. The individual brass solo phrases, and in particular the wood-wind on side 2, are generously recorded. This side is the most picturesque, in a way that later composers have made more familiar - men like Khatchaturyan. Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) was one of the earlier popularisers, trained under Rimsky-Korsakov, and working first at Tiflis, where he studied Georgian songs, and wrote a book on them. Here he feted Tchaikovsky, and produced his Mazeppa. Later, at Moscow, he did sterling work in opera and choralism. I remember being impressed by his setting of some Psalms, which reminded me of Bloch. We might well hear more of him: he is almost a "one-work" composer. His style is easy to grasp: lyrical, sometimes plangent, full of ingratiating melody, and orchestrated with the expected skill and dean tones of a Rimsky pupil, who became a People's Artist of the Republic. It would seem that since his heyday Russian composition has intensified, concentrated, used stronger essences of the many nationalities bound up in the amazing U.S.S.R. Perhaps some of this music now sounds a trifle old-fashioned: the final piece has nothing like the local colour of the second and third; but it is all good, sound music, attractive to those who like forthright pictorial stuff, as well as to others who enjoy less familiar melodic contours, such as we find in the two middle pieces. W.R.A.'

The Record Guide by Edward Sackville-West & Desmond Shawe-Taylor of 1951 gave the records a star although the music is given a slightly disparaging notice:-  'His Caucasian Sketches have achieved world-wide popularity; written in what might be termed the "travelogue" style, they reveal a strong sense for highly coloured orchestration, but are without any other musical distinction.'

The four sketches in Op 10 are:-
1. In a Mountain Pass
2. In a the Village
3. In the Mosque
4. Procession of the Sirdar

Links to Caucasian Sketches, Op. 10. Score and Wikipedia entry.

The original 78s are incredibly crackly although ClickRepair software has ameliorated the worst of it. I have strung the four sides together in one flac file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 42Mb].