Saturday, 9 November 2013

‘Record Society’ Classical ‘Wish List’ from 1947

In the April 1947 edition of the Gramophone Magazine Mr. F.G. Youens presented the results of a survey of members of the National Federation of Gramophone Societies who had been asked to submit lists of works that they ‘wished to be recorded of re-recorded’. The top twenty works were as follows:-
      Bach: Mass in B minor
Bax: The Garden of Fand (Beecham and the RPO or Barbirolli and the Hallé)
Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A flat (Boult and the BBC Symphony Orchestra)
Mozart: Requiem
Moeran: Violin Concerto (Sammons)
Holst: Egon Heath
Strauss: Tod und Verklarung
Franck: Le Chasseur Maudit
Kodaly: Hary Janos Suite (with Hungarian cimbalom)
Faure: Pianoforte Quartet in C minor, Op.15
Beethoven: Mass in D
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
Saint-Saens: Symphony No.3
Vaughan Williams: Mass in G minor
Schubert-Liszt: Wanderer Fantasia
Milhaud: Scaramouche (Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick)
Berlioz: L’Enfance du Christ
Brahms: German Requiem
Bax: Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony 
At a distance of 65 years it is hard to imagine that these works were either then currently unavailable on disc or had never been recorded.  Youens was surprised by the number of major choral works represented in this list.  But what impressed me was that over quarter of the list was requesting British composers. Most of the works included in this list currently have multiple recordings available, however the exceptions to this appear to be one or two of the lesser known British numbers.
Vaughan Williams has fared best with some 22 recordings currently listed in Arkiv of his beautiful Mass in G minor. Egdon Heath has a comfortable 15 listings; however this pales into insignificance when compared to The Planets which has passed the 100 mark.
Sir Adrian Boult duly obliged the Record Society with his 1949 recording of Sir Edward Elgar’s Symphony No.1 in A flat. He was to return to the recording studio with this work in 1967 and finally in 1976. All three versions are currently available.

Sir Arnold Bax’s The Garden of Fand has some 11 recordings in the catalogues, including editions of the ‘requested’ versions from Barbirolli and Beecham. More about these two recordings in subsequent posts
The Moeran Violin Concerto fares well with the Lyrita Edition (SRCD248) featuring John Georgiadis and Chandos with Mordkovitch (CHAN8807). The Albert Sammons rendition with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult notes above was recorded in 1946, and is available on Symposium (SYMPCD1201).  However, this was a concert performance and never went on general release. Finally Divine Art (dda27806) has released the live Festival Hall broadcast of Alfredo Campoli and BBC Symphony Orchestra under Boult from 1954.
Bax’s attractive Violin Concerto has only a single example – Lydia Mordkovitch with the LPO conducted by Bryden Thomson on Chandos (CHAN9003).
Finally, it is up to other analysts to examine the success of the non-British works; however it is good to note that the Sellick/Smith 1948 recording of Milhaud’s Scaramouche is still in the catalogue. 

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