Sunday, 31 August 2008

Cyril Scott: A Concert at the Bechstein Hall, 1908

I have not posted much about one of my favourite composers, Cyril Scott. Recently I was browsing the Musical Times for 1908 in the Royal College of Music and I came across this short unsigned review of the composer and his music.

“Mr. Cyril Scott is one of our younger composers who possess the valuable distinction of individuality, and consequently importance attached to the concert of his own compositions which he gave on March 24 at the Bechstein [Wigmore] Hall. The programme consisted largely of songs, several of them pleasing examples of the alliance of words and music. Of these there may be mentioned 'Prelude,' 'A Roundel of Rest,' and 'Love's Quarrel,' all of which were charmingly sung by Mrs. George Swinton, while 'The White Knight' was admirably rendered by Mr. Theodore Byard. Anticipation was chiefly centred in the first public performances of a String Quartet Op. 28, and a Sonata for violin and pianoforte Op. 59.
Making all allowance for modern licence in form and harmonic transitions, neither of these works can be termed satisfactory. That the thematic material should be lacking in significance would not so greatly matter, were the treatment clear and coherent, but the object of the composer would seem to be an intense desire to express torturing and unpleasant thoughts, and moreover to express them in an unpleasant manner. The Quartet was played by the Mesdames Nora Clench, Lucy Stone, Cecilia Gates and Edith Evans, and the Sonata by Madame Ethel Barns and Mr. Cyril Scott.”
The Musical Times May 1 1908


Prelude’ Op.57 No.1 was composed around 1908 – and was setting of words by Rosamund Marriot Watson. ‘Roundel of Rest’ Op.52 No.2 of 1906 had a text by Arthur Symonds. ‘Love’s Quarrel’ Op.55 No.3 was by Lord Lytton and was published in 1907 and finally ‘The White Knight’ Op.43 No.3 was also by Watson. It had been published in 1905.

The String Quartet Op.28 is not one of the composer’s four numbered works, but was one of three written in the first few years of the twentieth century.
The Sonata for violin & piano was composed in 1908 and was dedicated to Ethel Barns. It was revised by the composer as late as 1956!

All the above works await a recording.

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