Monday, 28 May 2012

Lost British Piano Works: Part 1

Any reader of my blog will know that I am fascinated by obscure British piano music. Do not get me wrong I love the standard (at least from the British music enthusiast’s perspective) repertoire. The piano works of John Ireland, Arnold Bax, Cyril Scott and Frank Bridge are all safely uploaded to my iPod ready for instant access. However, from a personal point of view most of the pieces by the four above named composers are beyond my Grade 6½ standard. So I tend to look to simpler pieces.  To this end, I love Alec Rowley, Thomas Dunhill, Felix Swinstead and Harry Farjeon.  However, let it be sad that not all their works are easy.
I recently bought a couple of short pieces by a composer called Geoffrey Robbins – Two Preludes for Piano.  They are just about in my gift. The first is The Lavender Path, which is a short ‘allegretto’, has some interesting harmonies and possibly a few too many octaves for its own good.  The second is Trees on the ill which is slightly more complex but well worth practising.  Once again, the composer likes octaves. Btu what struck me most about these pieces were the listings of ‘forgotten’ piano music by often forgotten composers on the back cover.  Simply by reading their titles, I want to hear and possibly play them. Someone once said that lists are good for blog – so here goes with part one. The second part will follow in a few days. Meanwhile I will try to find out a wee bit more about Mr Robbins and his music.

William McLean
By Killarney
In Andalusia
In the Moonlight
Joy – Valsette
Margery Moore
The Merry Mid-Shipman
Herbert Murrill
Two Impromptus
Geoffrey Shaw
What Grandpa Plays – The Pony Gallops, Mrs Duck, The Shepherd to his lambs, The Brave Tin Soldier & Grandfather Clock
Arthur Somervell
What you will
Frederick J Staton
Romp on the Sands
Freda Swain
The Mountain Ash
Colin Taylor
Barren Woods
Beside the Idle summer Sea
The Haven of Piece
Two Preludes: Retrospect & Gossamer
Alec Templeton
At the Garden Gate
Concert Waltz
Idyll Caprice
The Trout Stream
To What Place?
Kathleen Tittle
Moon Magic
Ernest Walker
A West African Fantasietta
Richard H. Walthew
The Scholar and the Day Off
Joseph Wardale
The Toy Box: The Clown, Hippo, The Fort, The Dancing Bear, The Sailing Boat & The Flying Scotsman
The Toy Cupboard
Mickey Mouse, Dismal Desmond, Jumbo, Japanese Doll, Peter Rabbit & Monkey-up-the-stick.

Although as a principle, I always try to put a title into its ‘sitz in leben’: what may be rather funny today could have been quite serious back in 1935.  However, there are a few deliciously camp titles amongst these pieces.  One wonders what the Merry Mid-Shipman got up to? And what about the Romp on the Sands? Finally, I am glad I never had a toy called Dismal Desmond. 

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