Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Very tenuous Penderecki connection

Now that Christmas is all but over and the sale season is in full spate, I thought an advertising record should be a tasteful blog item.

Saunders Calling 
Parts 1 & 2

Christopher Stone, Ray Noble and his orchestra 
with Alan Saunders

HMV B 23  
[matrix 0B 5193-2 and 0B 5194-2]
Recorded Thursday 23rd November 1933

Mediafire download FLAC [14Mb] or MP3 [10Mb]

The company of J.J.G. Saunders & Son is now no more I fear. In its heyday the firm was the chief suppliers of building, heating, plumbing, glass and ironmongery in the Brighton, Hove and Sussex catchment area.

Ray Noble
They have however left behind a very good record. Saunders' employed one of the best dance bands The New Mayfair Orchestra under its director Ray Noble to supply the music and Christopher Stone, the first British disc jockey among may other things, to act as our host.
Christopher Stone
I believe the musicians in the orchestra at the time of the recording are as follows:

Ray Noble - director
Max Goldberg - trumpet
Alfie Noakes - trumpet
Lew Davis - trombone
Tony Thorpe - trombone
Freddy Gardner  - clarinet/alto-saxophone/baritone-saxophone
Bob Wise - clarinet/alto-saxophone/baritone-saxophone
Harry Berly - clarinet/tenor saxophone/viola
Reginald Pink - clarinet/tenor Saxophone
Eric Siday - violin
Reginald Pursglove - violin
Harry Jacobson - piano
Bert Thomas - guitar
Tiny Winters - string bass
Bill Harty - drums

The playing is really quite brilliant, this is not surprising considering that each of the musicians was very well known or even a star in their own right. Jean Pougnet is probaly the best known to classical collectors, and it is noteworthy that with Harry Berly they played Mozart Sinfonia concertante K 364 in both the 1925 and 1926 London Proms. The clever music arrangements, the incorporation of sound effects, the timing, all without the possibility of editing and then each side only a second take shows how good they really were. I would think that two takes was the limit as the deal with HMV would be something like this: Mayfair orchestra £50: use of studio for a morning and two takes each side £25 and 100 pressings for £50 total £125 – maybe Christopher Stone came free for he may well have been a friend of Alan Saunders.

The HMV 'B' plum label was mainly, but not exclusively, given over to popular repertoire and became the longest running HMV 78 series. Starting with B101 in September 1912 with a final issue B10968 in February 1958, numbers B2 to B47 were utilized for private contracts and in-house requirements. As they were not part of the usual series they had more often than not a yellow label. The present record was made at Abbey Road Studio using the Blumlein recording equipment.

Below is a rather sad photograph of all that is left of this once proud company; I would think the white building to the left was originally the showroom. Today they are up for sale with planning permission for flats so I think they will be gone fairly soon.

Saunders in Brighton
Just love the graffiti 
Ok, Ok, in case you are wondering what this connection with Penderecki is, he just happened to be born the same day this recording was cut  - I did say it was very tenuous - clearly an underhand trick to get people to look at this blog - promise to make a New Years resolution about my deceptive personality.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas 1909 with Clara & Bertie

The recent broadcast of the earliest known Christmas records by the BBC a few days back has stirred me to put something up that was Christmassy too, but more to thank  Buster's Big 10-inch Record blog for all the Christmas stuff he has managed to upload.

With love and best wishes for
A Merry Christmas
Clara [Butt] and Bertie [Kennerley Rumford, with Joy, Roy and Victor]

The Gramophone Co. Ltd 
[matrix 3793f]

Recorded Monday 1st November 1909

1 Flac , Here at Mediafire. [ 10Mb]

Clara Butt, her husband Bertie Kennerley Rumford and their three children went down to the London Studios of The Gramophone Company Ltd on the Monday 1st of November 1909 and cut two waxes. The recording ledgers as transcribed by Alan Kelly lists these as follows -

CLARA BUTT and children (VICTOR, JOY, ...)
3793f    1-11-09  03168  Private record - no title
3794f    1-11-09   Private Christmas Greetings (Private record)

The matrix 3793f was assigned an issue number 03168 whilst matrix 3794f was probably made as a backup, presumably a test pressing was also made but this being most likely rejected very likely been destroyed. By some quirk of fate the original metal part survives at Hayes for 3793f and David Mason (an indefatigable discographer, collector of spoken word recordings and board members of Historic Masters)  had a very few vinyl pressing made a number of years ago. David also happens to own an advanced copy of this disc which may well have been the copy forwarded to Clara Butt to vet before final pressing.

Until a couple of months ago we had no idea that a label was specially printed for 03168. As you can see from the illustration this label uses the same blue that was specifically designed for Clara Butt's other discs, but here altered for this special Christmas issue. I have also illustrated at the very foot of the page an example  standard Clara Butt label for this period. These records, as with most celebrity records from the Gramophone Co. stable of artists retailed at 12s 6d.

The wording on the label  'Manufactured by The Gramophone Co. Ltd. (and Sister Companies) especially for Mr. and Mrs. R. Kennerley Rumford' may point to the company taking up the manufacturing cost of this special disc as a inducement for future records. Having a label printed and the pressing  accounted for in the company books meant it had to be assigned an issue number; properly speaking this number should have been in the 04000 series as it was is a concerted record with singing, but then who really bothered to worry about such a thing then as it was a private issue not for public consumption.

The Record was made for Clara's brother Warwick Gladstone Butt and his wife Lila Millian (née Livingston). Warwick married Lila on the 28th of April 1909  and was at this time working for the Santa Fé Land Company of Argentina. The company was a among other things a major exporter of frozen beef to the UK. As my maternal grandfather was the Chief Purser of the Royal Mail Lines which did the Argentinian run I can make the thinnest of claims to a connection! 

The whole reason for the record was simply to send them a special Christmas present. The record had to be  made in time for it to be pressed and then sent to Buenos Aires then transported up the river Plate in time to be heard by Warwick & Lila for Christmas.  I would think that a tiny number of these discs would have been pressed – this copy has come my way from the estate of Bertie's niece Cicely Murray. That the record may have been via Clara Butt's own record collection is quite possible for a sample copy of another disc, the title inked in by Bertie's, happened to came together with it. Cicely Murray was proficient enough as a pianist to be asked by Clara and Bertie's to be their accompanist on tour of 1931 that encompassed India, Japan, Australia and South Africa.

What of the record - Clara speaks first, probably from a prepared script. The relative faintness of her voice may have been due to her head facing downwards to read rather than speaking directly into the recording horn. This script could account for the rather late interjection of the word 'both' as she suddenly remembered Warwick's new wife.  Bertie follows with a hearty 'What ho!' and then each of the children Joy, Roy and Victor give their party piece. 

A photograph survives of the family group that would have been taken, I think at the end of 1909 or early in 1910, roughly around the time of the recording, so we have a pretty good idea of how this well to do musical family then looked.

Clara Butt - Bertie Kennerley Rumford
Roy - Joy - Victor
7 Harley Road, Hampstead, London
Joy is the first to sing, luckily Bertie plays a D chord faintly on the  recording studio piano somewhere close by  from which I have been able to pitched the record at 80.80 rpm. This is lucky for we have here a good idea of what Clara's speaking voice was like in relation to her singing voice.

These first two songs I do not know but have transcribed what I can make out. Are they family songs, does anyone know these as I have been unable to pin them down, or indeed can you make out the missing lines?

Awaking little Venus
Wipe sleep from now your eyes,
The stars are pretty faded,
The sun is in the sky.
Look up, look up,
The cuckoo calls you up,
Cuckoo cuckoo,
The cuckoo calls you up.

Joy & Roy then do a duet, unfortunately as with Joy's solo I can't make out the first lines -

We are the..............
..... orchard we'll be round,
But when the golden autumn comes,
They'll bring you apples, pears, and plums.

Victor then give his own  rendition of Harry Lauder's song, I have transcribed it as Victor sings it -

I love a lassie, a bonnie bonnie lassie, 
She's as sweet as a lily in the dell, 
She's as sweet as the heather, the bonnie purple heather, 
Mary, my Scots bluebell.

Of the children, who give their all in this recording, I have some short biographical details. Joy Clara Kennerley Rumford (1901-1976)  married Major Claude Harold Cross (1882-1944) in 1928 but I don't think they had any children; Roy Kennerley Rumford (1904-1923) had a promising career as a cricketer but died young from meningitis; and Victor Ian Kennerley Rumford (1906-1934) emigrated to Salisbury, Rhodesia in 1920s to make his living in farming, he sadly took his own life in 1934.

Label from October-December 1909

Saturday, 8 December 2012

'An adjunct to any collection'

August Klughardt
Quintet in C, Op. 79 (1901)
for bassoon, clarinet, flute, horn, and oboe

1. Allegro non troppo 2. Scherzo
3. Andante 4. Adagio-Allegro-Vivace.

Gewandhaus Wind Quintet (Bläser-Quintet), Leipzig

Polydor 65796 & 65797 
(1272as, 1273as, 1274as, 1275as)
(recorded June /July 1923)

1 Flac , Here at Mediafire. [about 43Mb]

Klughardt is hardly today a household name, his fame as a composer, such as it is, seems to have dissipated soon after he died in 1902. Only the Festival Overture, Op 54 has ever been performed at a London Proms, and that was back in 1901. The Wind Quintet has been resurrected once in a while and but I have been unable to find a public performance in the UK at all during 20th century with the only one broadcast performance in 1997, from a recording, at 2 o'clock in the morning on BBC Radio 3.

This was the first recording made, or at least the one first issued by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Wind Quintet. Whatever possessed them to record Klughard's Quintet I can't imagine, I can only think that it was a popular piece with the LGWQ and probably they liked performing it. DGG thought it was worth issuing but did not think to re-record the work when electrical recording came in. As the sides on this copy bear marks for first and second stampers I would guess that few copies were pressed either in Germany or for export, as here, with the Polydor label - possibly the records are quite uncommon anyway as this is the only copy that has come my way or indeed I have seen.

The biography of Klughardt on Wikipedia neatly sums up the composers career as 'a rather conservative composer in spite of his interest in more modern tendencies.'

The musicologist and historian Wilhelm Altmann writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music gives his succinct estimation of the composition: 'The Wind Quintet Op. 79 should be of special interest to wind societies. The individual instruments are handled with admiral skill, the possibilities of the clarinet and horn, in particular, being well realized. The musical side of the work is also admirable and perfectly clear. Yet again one looks in vain for broad, original ideas which would make a lasting impression; in all four movements the music is of the agreeable, entertaining order. The composer's natural humour shows itself in the first movement, in the scherzo-like allegro vivace, and the still more in the rapid last movement which is preceded by a short introductory adagio. The tastefully conceived andante grazioso – a minuet in fact, though not so entitled – may be regarded as the most effective movement. It is not quite fair to neglect Klughard, even though he seems a dwarf in stature when compared to Brahms.'

Each movement in this recording forms a single side, the first movement, being the longest has had the centre section lopped out of it, but the flow of the music for all that does not seem too disfigured.

I cannot think that the issue on Polydor sold too well in the UK, for in reviewing the first batch of Polydor discs Compton Mackenzie [Gramophone, October 1925 p. 221] pulls no punches: 'There are a couple of good records of Klughardt for a wind quintet, if you like quintets; personally I hate them.'

The next month in the column headed Trade Winds and Idle Zephyrs a more upbeat assessment is reported from a correspondent 'Dr Francis Mead draws special attention to 65796-7, quintet for flute, oboe, horn and bassoon, by Klughardt - “an adjunct to any collection”' [Gramophone, November 1925 p. 281.] In the following year a Mr G.A. Tomlinson of the Richmond and District Gramophone Society played the records as part of a programme slotting the Klughardt between Purcell's Golden Sonata and the Forging Song from Wagner's Siegfried. [Gramophone, July 1926 p. 71].

No mention of this work or any other recording of any piece by Klughardt appears on 78. The advent of LP however had two versions issued at about the same time by the Chicago Symphony Woodwind Quintet [Audiophile AP 14] and the New Art Wind Quintet [Classic Edition CE 2020]. It was not until the late LP era that the work started to hit it's stride, but even then reviews are sparse and none has ever appeared in The Gramophone, tut tut.

I have rather sparse information of the performers such as it is is tabulated below.

Gunther Weigelt (no dates obtained) bassoon.
Willi Schreninicke (1893?-1979) clarinet. The first clarinetist of Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1918.
Carl Bartuzat (1882-1959) flute. A pupil of Maximilian Schwedler performed with the Theatre Orchestra of Leipzig and was one of several principle flautists of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra between 1918 and 1951.
Richard Schaller (no dates obtained) horn. Performed as third horn with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1911 to 1951.
Walter Heinze ( no dates obtained) oboe.

Leipzig Gewandhaus 1900