Monday, 30 May 2011
Friday, 27 May 2011
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Saturday, 21 May 2011
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Friday, 13 May 2011
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
When I got back home to London, I listened to the four works that have been recorded. Each of them is a worthy tone-poem, that in spite of using local ‘folk tines’ never becomes parochial. They are pieces that deserve recognition and study. It is a task that I will try to consider over the coming months.
According to HaydnWoodMusic.com there are another three works that have not yet been recorded. I have linked to the CD pages where the work is currently available.
A Manx Rhapsody (1931).
Mannin Veen, Dear Isle of Man, A Manx Tone Poem (1933).
As a taster I provide a link to a YouTube recording of 'A Manx Rhapsody'.
Monday, 9 May 2011
A short piece written as a part of Parry’s Summary of the History and Development of Mediaeval and Modern European Music. It was written before the explosion of English art –song which was in many ways led by Parry himself – with Stanford and Vaughan Williams. The names of Hatton and Clay have been long forgotten.
‘In this country song-writing reached, in the past generation, a pitch of degradation which is probably without inartistic parallel in all musical history. Mercantile considerations and the shallowness of average drawing-room taste produced a luxuriant crop of specimens of imbecility in which the sickly sentiment was not less conspicuous than the total ignorance of the most elementary principles of grammar and artistic construction, and of the relation of musical accent to poetical declamation. In those days the songs of Hatton (1809-1886), and of Sterndale Bennett, and the early songs of Sullivan and those of F. Clay (1840-1889), were honourably conspicuous for real artistic quality and genuine song impulse. Fortunately the lowest point appears to have been reached, and though there are a good many representatives of the old school still active, the present day is represented by mature masters of their craft who can write real genuine songs ; such as Mackenzie, Stanford, Cowen, and Maude Valerie White, besides a few young composers, such as MacCunn and Somervell, who produce songs as genuine and as beautiful as are to be found anywhere in Europe. The impulse is certainly going in the right direction, and if the public can be persuaded not to insist so exclusively upon songs being either vulgar or trivial and vapid, the future of English song will undoubtedly be such as the nation may be proud of.’
Charles Hubert Hastings Parry: Summary of the History and Development of Mediaeval and Modern European Music (London, 1893, 1904)
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
I discovered this piece of piano music in the Oxfam bookshop in Worcester. If I am honest, it was the deliciously ‘camp’ –in a ‘Carry On’ sense – cover that caught my eye. I guess it would just not be possible to publish something like this in our more politically correct, sensitive days.
Stanley Wilson is a minor composer who seemed most at home with song writing. There are settings of John Masefield and A.E. Housman in the catalogues. I was unable to find any references to his life and times.
Ship Ahoy! is a set of ‘twelve nautical scenes’ for pianoforte. They were composed, or at least published in 1932 by James Forsyth in Manchester. It was rather expensively prices for its time at 3/-. A working man was probably on £2 a week!
The 12 sketches all describe some aspect of a mariners life – ‘Messmates, Ben the Bosun, Up Channel, White Horses, The Lonely Lighthouse, Breakers, The Stowaway, Davy Jones Locker, In the Hammock, Mariner’s Star, the Middle Watch and finally Blue Peter. These titles can be construed in any way the reader or player wishes!
Yet these sketches are well written, imaginative and employ a considerable technique. Apart from the composer’s predilection for augmented fifths, the musical content is varied and satisfying. I guess that the playing standard is probably about Grade 5.
But perhaps the best advert for these pieces was the opinion of a well-known (but in this case unacknowledged) pianist who suggested that these ‘Nautical Sketches’ were worthy and he would certainly use such material in his piano teaching lessons. Luckily I can play most of them, myself!
Finally, based on these pieces I would love to come across a little bit more of the music of Stanley Wilson, especially, perhaps his setting of John Masefield’s ‘Tewksbury Road’. It may be very well worth hearing. And perhaps someone out there knows something of the composer?