Friday, 9 November 2012

Deems Taylor: Suite Through the Looking Glass Two British Reviews

I thought it would be a good idea to quote two short of British reviews of this work.  The first two refer to a performance of the Suite, which had been given at that year’s Leeds Music Festival.
S.L. writes in The Guardian: - Of an entirely different nature was the orchestral suite ‘Through the Looking Glass’, by Deems Taylor, music critic of the New York World.  Mr. Taylor seems to have as pleasant a fancy as our own Roger Quilter. He is content to delight and amuse, and he is well able to do both. His music runs along with a perfect security of invention and handling. It follows the ingenious invention of Lewis Carroll as gleefully as if the music had been born for no other purpose. The American taint is only seen in the fact that the humour has learned from the jazz band a licence that is carried too far. The joke is told out to the end, as if it were in the band, when the little less would have been ever so much more.  Yet we should always be glad to hear tis delightful composer.
Manchester Guardian 12 October 1925 (with minor edits)
Certainly, listening to this piece at a remove of some 90 years we do not feel quite so intimidated by the ‘jazz’ element in the music.

A short note in The Times about the same concert:-
‘Through the Looking Glass’ by Deems Taylor, also an American composition, [1] by avoiding a false profundity does succeed in being amusing. It does not aim, it is true, at expounding Lewis Carroll’s ‘contrariwise’ logic, but it illustrates the fragments of text which were printed in the programme –and not as at a recent London performance, recited from the platform. The bassoon cadenza describing the death of the Jabberwok is not only funny, but really descriptive, [2] and other effects are no less happy and to the point.  It is all done with a light touch and – O, blessed virtue – its texture is free from mud'.
The Times 12 October 1925 (with minor edits)

[1] Howard Hanson’s Lux Aeterna had also been heard at this Festival.
[2] I have never heard a Jabberwock being slain. Have you? 

1 comment:

Michael said...

Of course the Jabberwock was slain! Last stanza of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky":

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

By the way, a two piano reduction of Through the Looking Glass Suite became available a couple of years ago, on a CD entitled: "The Lost Music of Deems Taylor, Volume I", along with a number of songs he wrote.