Monday, 1 March 2010

Percy Whitlock: Updates, News and Reviews

Recently, I have been brought up to speed on what the Percy Whitlock Trust has been doing over the past year or so, by its secretary Malcolm Riley. Certainly there are plenty of interesting and significant things happening in which the Trust are involved.
There have been two major publications produced over the past three years. The most important is the fine Percy Whitlock Companion which brought together most of the composer’s surviving correspondence, diary extracts and autobiographical notes alongside a number of articles which he wrote for The Musical Times, the Musical Opinion and The Organ. This volume is a model of what all books should be like and is indispensable for all Whitlock enthusiasts. It is published by the Trust and is available through them on their WebPages.

The second publication is a fine volume of organ music – A Fanfare for Francis containing the following works:-
Noel Rawsthorne: Fanfare for Francis
Malcolm Riley: Prologo e Toccatina
Robert Gower: Hymn Prelude on "York"Richard Shepherd: Prelude
Andrew Carter: Passacaglia
Simon Lindley: Echo Rondel
John Scott Whiteley: Scherzetto & Fugue
John Barry: Pray to the Lord
Philip Moore: Variations & Fugue on "East Acklam"
Alan Spedding: Deo Gratias
Robin Walker: Malton
Francis Jackson: Impromptu
This album was produced to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dr. Francis Jackson. As an added bonus it contains a CD of the entire collection recorded by John Scott Whiteley on the organ of York Minster.

The most recent Trust Newsletter reports on the May Festival 2009 held at Bournemouth. Enthusiasts of Whitlock’s music will know that he spent fourteen years as the organist of the Municipal Pavilion in that great seaside town. This year’s festival, which is the 14th, focused on the music of Henry Purcell and Haydn. However there was an evening recital given by Malcolm Riley which included organ works by Herbert Murrill, Andrew Carter and Percy Whitlock.

Perhaps the most exciting event of 2009 was the performance of Whitlock’s Piano Quintet in G minor by the Pavao String Quartet and the pianist Alison Farr. This work was composed between February 1929 and January 1930 and was dedicated to Charles Hylton Stewart, an English clergyman and organist. . The Quintet is written in four movements. Mike Marsh has written that ‘from the opening piano flourish (of the Fantasia) there follows a hymn-like melody imbued with folk elements in which the instrumental balance showed masterful sensitivity.’ The Scherzo nods towards Percy Grainger with its Irish folk-dance style ‘presented with cheery impetus’. Yet it is the Romance which Marsh suggests ‘evoked scenes of candle-lit romantic evenings.’ There is an important part for solo viola. The last movement, a Rondo, has ‘lyrical wit with hints of Elgarian nobility.’ Surely this is a work that demands to be recorded and presented to British Music Enthusiasts. I am sure that for all who know Whitlock’s organ music, there will be precious few who are aware that he wrote a sizeable corpus of orchestral and chamber works. The Quintet was published by the Percy Whitlock Trust in 1996

Finally, the recent Newsletter reports that shortly after the Percy Whitlock Companion had come off the printing presses, two more letters from the composer to a Mr. Huskisson Stubington arrived in Malcolm Riley’s in-tray. The said gentleman held a number of organist appointments in Kent and Radnorshire before becoming taking up the post at Tewksbury Abbey. The two letters discuss the organ rebuild at Tewksbury amongst more personal recollections. They are hugely interesting additions to the Whitlock archive.

“The Percy Whitlock Trust which has been in existence since 1983 aims to increase the public awareness of the composer's work. It coordinates many events and recitals and publishes articles and features which relate to the composer.”

No comments: