Saturday, 3 July 2010

Harry Farjeon: A Swan Song for piano

I recently posted a review of Harry Farjeon’s (1878-1949) Hans Anderson Suite on these pages. A day or so later someone pointed out to me that he was much better known for his piano pieces rather than those for orchestra. This is correct: Farjeon was certainly more successful in writing small-scale works rather than exploring the larger forms – however a piano concerto does survive along with an Idyll for oboe and orchestra and the St. Dominic Mass. In addition there are two operettas and an opera, four string quartets and a number of songs.
Much of his music explored the imaginative and sometime ‘faux’ innocent genre that was popular during the Edwardian era – possibly due to the influence of his sister Eleanor and their childhood adventures. Alas there are no recordings of his music currently available on CD – at least not in the catalogues. It appears that he has been entirely erased from the collective musical memory –like Leo Livens, Greville Cooke and Montague Ewing.
On YouTube there is an absolutely beautiful performance of the composer’s A Swan Song by Daniel Kasparian. As of yet I do not have the music for this piece – but even on a first hearing this is a heart-achingly beautiful piece of music that has instantly acceded to my list of Desert Island Discs. In its melancholic mood, the composer has moved a long way from some of his more picturesque titles such as ‘About the fairy who dances’ and the ‘Bumpkin Dance.’ This is a truly lovely piece of music that ought to challenge enthusiasts of British Music to explore Farjeon’s opus in more detail.

1 comment:

Rob Challinor said...

I am working with a singer at the moment who I introduced Farjeon's "A Sussex Alphabet" songs to. She is interested in working on more and we hope to record a CD of Farjeon's songs when our schedules allow. Not sure when that will be but I'm hoping that we can at least make these charming works available. They are not deep works by any means but I think worth hearing after all these years.