Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Herbert Howells: Puck’s Minuet, op.20 No.1: Part 2 The Record Reviews

Puck’s Minuet had been released on Decca K522 in 1930 with an unidentified orchestra conducted by Julian Clifford. This record was reviewed by W.R.Anderson.  in the July 1930 edition of The Gramphone. ‘Howells has said of his Minuet…that  ‘though written to an imaginary scene, it matters little what particular picture be in the listener’s mind…It would seem, however, that airy Puck takes strange and ill-assorted companions for the dance – perhaps a Falstaff among them.’ The reviewer concludes by noting that it one of the prettiest, most charming pieces for small orchestra, clearly and suavely recorded.’ The record also featured Scarlatti-Tomassni’s The Good Humoured Ladies

I also found a reference to an even earlier recording of Puck’s Minuet dating from 1925. The Gramophone (July 1925) gives a brief review of the 10” 78rpm record issued by Vocalion on X.9571 featuring the Aeolian Orchestra. The Howells piece was conducted by Stanley Chapple and the second side consisted of Jarnefelt’s Berceuse conducted by Percy Fletcher.  The reviewer P.P. notes that the latter is ‘quite an agreeable little piece’ but was ‘completely eclipsed by the very individual Minuet…’ He concludes by suggesting Howells has ‘most successfully achieved a genuine “Puckish” atmosphere and the piquancy of the orchestration is most admirably reproduced in the record.’ 

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