Saturday, 27 June 2009

Billy Mayerl: Sennen Cove & ‘Marigold’

Last year I did a little post about Billy Mayerl’s tone poem Sennen Cove. I noted there that piece was one of my desideratum. I did accept the limitations of the music and finshed by suggesting that:-
Sennen Cove is no Tintagel or La Mer. It is quite short at just over eight minutes. And it could be argued that the musical material is unbalanced and inconsistent. Mayerl perhaps tries to introduce too many images into his music. Yet as a work by someone who is a decided miniaturist it is certainly enjoyable and evocative of a day at the seaside long ago.
I was delighted to find the original Columbia recording of the Court Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer has found its way onto You Tube . Now naturally this is taken from an old 78rpm disc and there lacks clarity and quality. But this is a small concession to make in order to hear this piece without buying the Dutton release that I referred to in my original post.
My thoughts about this work have not changed- save to wonder what mark Mayerl would have made on ‘classical music if he had not gone down the avenue of writing ‘novelty’ piano pieces. Who knows?
Another You Tube find is an old Pathé Newsreel feature of the Billy Mayerl playing the piano. It is really just a bit of fun, but offers a very rare opportunity of seeing this charismatic composer and pianist doing what he did best. The film shows the piano impersonating a barrel organ, a record player which quite naturally winds down and finally the sound of an out of tune boarding house piano. Lastly Mayerl plays a few bars from his signature tune – Marigold.
Billy Mayerl was born on 31 May 1902 and sadly died from a heart attack on 25th March 1959.

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