Sunday, 15 July 2012

Something from the Seaside

Something about the weather here in the UK that is making me long for the sunny seaside, the band playing, ice cream, sea washing across the pebbles, gently nodding off in a deck chair - bliss. 

Gustav Holst
Marching Song from Two songs without words 
Op. 22/2  [H. 88/2], 1906

Julius Harrison
 A Song of Adoration - Romance, 1930

Hastings Municipal Orchestra
Conducted by Julius Harrison 

Decca K 602
[KA1-4 & KA2-4]
Recorded: Saturday 14th February 1931

2 Flac files in a .rar file, Here at Mediafire. [about 21Mb]

Hastings, White Rock Pavilion
Issued in time for the November 1931 issue of the gramophone the reviewer clearly enjoyed the recording:

'This orchestra develops and records well, under its new conductor. Its force is not large—about 35, I believe—and it makes a very good show. Holst's piece is not very often heard. It is one of the pair in op. 22 (1906), and contains a first-rate humable tune, well bound with honest British wrapping. The conductor's own song is a sensitive addition to the store of good light pieces, which we should be grateful to hear oftener. This composer's suite of Worcestershire Pieces would make a capital recording item, and so would his Widdicombe Fair humoresque for quartet. We are apt to forget how many good British writers remain unrecorded.'

I think there is enough information on the web about both Holst and Harrison so I won't add to it here but stick to the recordings. 

Gustav Holst
The sides are somewhat over recorded, and acoustics in the pavilion for an orchestral group of 35 is quite reverberant. The pressing material that Decca used  hasn't helped with the dub but so I have left quite a lot of hiss in. The Matrix number are the first of a brief series which began in 1931 and seem to have been designated for recordings outside London. The 10 and 12 inch matrices were consecutively numbered  with the letter suffix KA for 12 inch and KB for 10 inch recordings.  These two sides were first recorded on Thursday, 8th January 1931. I think the first takes would have been tests for acoustics of the building as only 3 sides were cut that day. The recording engineers turned up again on Thursday, 12th February 1931 to do a run of 30 sides over two days. Being take -4 I think these two side may have been cut on Saturday, 14th February 1931. The Take numbers read KA1-4C and KA1-4C – I do not know what the 'C' suffix actually means as I have also seen DJ, AJ, AX, AXX, AXXX, and can only think they must be to do with the equipment used or the recording engineer, anyone out there know how to decode this? 

Julius Harrison
One other thing is the title of the Harrison piece is given as A Song of Adoration - Romance on the published score nut somehow got reversed on the label, maybe the Decca people thought it would be more marketable.


  1. I just came in from my nightly swim to find your musing on the seashore. There was no municipal orchestra playing, alas, but it was pleasant nonetheless - as I expect this recording to be as well. Thanks!

  2. Yes, though no less fondly remembered charms of the British seaside experience are the drumming of icy rain on the glacial shingle, the wuthering of bracing Boreas through tears in the windbreak, the roar of pitiless northern tides, the pervasive miasma of stale chip fat and the blood-curdling imprecations of Mods and Rockers knifing each other along the Parade...

    Nice disc, thanks! Curious that the reviewer you quote, W.R. Anderson, should forget that Harrison's Widdicombe Fair had in fact been recorded and issued only eighteen months before, when he himself reviewed it in The Gramophone's February 1930 issue!

    All the best, Nick

    1. Can be a bit dull at the seaside but I think it was always a bit tacky. I went on holiday as a child every year to St Combs in Aberdeenshire - golden sands stretching out forever, the sea was quite exhilarating once you recovered from hypothermia. Funny W.R.A. had a such a memory lapse - maybe he was thinking of something else.