Friday, 8 May 2015

Racine Fricker's Prelude, Elegy and Finale for strings: Three reviews.

In a review in The Spectator (19 January 1951) of the London Classical Orchestra’s concert (16 January 1951) conducted by Trevor Harvey at Chelsea Town Hall noted that: ‘Racine Fricker's Prelude, Elegy and Finale for strings is serious and impassioned, impressive at a first hearing, but promising more to a closer acquaintance like most of this composer's work. It is not common to find an artist in any medium so clear in his own mind about what he wishes to say or so direct and economical in the way he says it. There was more strength than sweetness in these three movements; but there was no display of forcefulness. None of that frantic posturing or cult of violence for its own sake which characterises the professional ‘strong men’ of music.’
Other works at this concert included Antony Hopkins Festival Overture, Mozart’s Piano concerto No.26 in D major ‘Coronation’ K.537 and an unspecified Haydn Symphony.

The same concert was reviewed in the Musical Times (April 1951) which noted that ‘Racine Fricker's Prelude, Elegy and Finale for strings, previously played at Darmstadt and on the wireless... Intensely thoughtful and poised music, which still finds time for beautiful and intriguing sonorities, it still has not the tremendous impact of this composer's symphony, or the friendly lyricism of the violin concerto.’

Edward Greenfield, writing in August 1965 edition of The Gramophone declared that ‘The item which endears the record to me most of all is Peter Racine Fricker’s Prelude, Elegy and Finale, a work which at once shows him at his most Hindemithian [1] and most passionate (not exactly a predictable combination). The prelude is brief but powerful and quickly leads to the emotional hear of the work, a magnificent Elegy which should be compulsory listening for anyone (progressive or reactionary) who has ever tended to dismiss Fricker. The finale brings a march which includes a vigorous fugato which may nowadays seem old hat but which is most effective none the less.’
[1] ‘Hindemithian’ can imply strong contrapuntal lines and rather neo-classical in style. Percy Young has well written that Paul Hindemith was ‘immensely fluent, both are liable to appeal to the head rather than the heart (or to the eye rather than the ear), and… incline to circumlocution.’ There is a perception of Hindemith (and his followers) of writing ‘dry’ music lacking un emotion and grace.

There is a YouTube video of the Prelude, Elegy and Finale played by the Little Orchestra of London under the baton of Leslie Jones. 

1 comment:

David said...

Actually, not a video, but an audio recording.