Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Festival of British Music, 1915: Part VI A Review by Peter Warlock

My last post on the 1915 ‘Festival of British Music’ features a short review of the final (third) concert [15 May 2015] by the composer, critic and bon viveur Philip Heseltine, better known as Peter Warlock.  Heseltine only held the post of Daily Mail music critic for four months and contributed around 30 notices of concert and recitals. No commentary on this review is necessary, save to point out the Heseltine clearly had a more positive view of Cyril Scott’s Piano Concerto the ‘Capriccio’ in Musical Opinion.

‘The Festival of British Music organised by Mr. Thomas Beecham and Mr. Mlynarski was brought to a close at [the] Queen’s Hall on Saturday afternoon with a programme in which interest centred almost entirely in two numbers. The first of these was Cyril Scott’s new Pianoforte Concerto, which received its first performance.
It is a work constructed, like much of the later Scriabin, upon a definite and peculiar harmonic scheme which yields effects of decorative rather than emotional value. Though the second movement is charged with an intensity of poetic feeling which raises it far above the rest of the work. The strange haunting beauty of this section would be more telling in isolation from the other two movements, especially since the relation between piano and orchestra is here more satisfactory than elsewhere. Taken as a whole, the work may be described as a pianist’s concerto, in that the piano is definitely the dominant instrument throughout.

The other work was an orchestral fantasy, ‘In the Faery Hills’ by Arnold Bax. It is one of the most original and poetic orchestral compositions penned by a native composer, and, moreover, one which completely fulfilled the object of the festival, namely, to give the stranger a good impression of British music.’ P.H. Daily Mail (17 May 1915)

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