Sunday, 16 March 2008

Elizabeth Maconchy: Proud Thames

I was first introduced to Elizabeth Maconchy’s music by that great description of London’s river – Proud Thames. This was on the original Lyrita vinyl issued around 1972. Then, as now, I tend to see it in terms of Smetana’s Ma Vlast – although there is an intangible ‘English’ feel to this music. Ironically this work was an entry into the London County Council competition of 1952 for a piece to celebrate the forthcoming Coronation. I am left pondering the possibility of Ken Livingstone sponsoring such an event in these multicultural days: steel drums and digeredoos perhaps? Maconchy wrote that the inspiration for this was ‘the river itself’. She stated that it was meant ‘… to suggest its rapid growth from small beginnings to a great river of sound – from its trickling source among green fields, to London, where the full tide of the life of the capital centres on its river."
Proud Thames is one of those works that should be in the repertoire, along with Malcolm Arnold’s The Smoke and John Ireland’s London Overture; the reality is that it will probably only receive an occasional airing - if that. It would have made a terrific ‘Last Night’ opener.
Thanks to MusicWeb International

Proud Thames on Lyrita

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