Monday, 19 January 2009

Cyril Scott: Intermezzo for Piano Op 67 No.3

It is strange that Cyril Scott’s Intermezzo appears to be a piece of music that no-one wants to talk about. For example I searched through the programme notes for the Fourth Volume of Leslie De’ath’s fine cycle of Scott's Piano music on Dutton Epoch. I can find no mention of this work here – except for the track listing. And then I looked at his learned article on the Internet, and again no mention except for the catalogue reference. Ian Parrott in his booklet, Cyril Scott and his Piano Music also fails to give any criticism of this short piece. The same is true of Thomas Darson's dissertation, The Solo Piano Works of Cyril Scott – he does not choose to discuss this work. And finally there is no reference to this piece in Eaglefield Hull’s 1918 study of the composer. And finally, even the composer’s own autobiographical Bone of Contention does not consider this piece, however it is fair to say that this book is a little light on musical discussion

The facts of the music are relatively straightforward. In 1909 Cyril Scott had signed a contract with Elkin publishers which required him pt produce a considerable amount of ‘salon’ music. A similar agreement was made with Schott for his larger-scale works. Scott had the Intermezzo published in 1910 by Elkin – it is therefore assumed that it was written in either the same year or perhaps 19019. It was the third number of his Op.67. The Intermezzo was dedicated to Adine O’Neill who was the wife of his fellow composer and friend Norman O’Neill.
The other pieces in Scott's Opus 67 are: No.1 Mazurka (1909) No.2 Serenata (1909) No.4 Soirée japonaise (1910)
Apart form Leslie De’ath’s recent performance, the composer produced a piano roll in his lifetime. (Triphonola 50838). There appear to be no other commercial recordings.

The form of the work is really very straight forward. The piece is written in E major and is marked to be played ‘gently flowing.’ The music is some 52 bars long and consists of a sixteen bar melody which is effectively presented in varied form three times. The work ends with a soft codetta. As a piece of music it is probably about Grade 7 so is just about in the gift of an amateur. However, it requires considerable nuancing to display the subtle contrast between the repetitions of the melody, else interest may be lost. The general effect of the piece is dreamlike and has a feel to it that the listener has always known the tune.

Leslie De’ath plays this work on the Volume Four of the Dutton Cyril Scott Piano Music Cycle

Hear Philip Sear play this work on YouTube

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