Friday, 29 July 2011
Sunday, 24 July 2011
In 1985 I acquired a copy of the Stewart Craggs’ and Alan Poulton’s catalogue of William Alwyn’s music. This was before the days of the Chandos and Naxos cycles of the composer’s works. At that time there were only a handful of Lyrita LPs of the symphonies, a song cycle or two and the Derby Day Overture. On turning to the ‘orchestral’ section of that book I was overwhelmed by the number of works that had not been recorded: I believed then that most never would be. Furthermore, a generally accepted axiom at that time stated that Alwyn had destroyed virtually every work written prior to the Rhapsody for String Quartet of 1939. I remember spotting the first two works in the catalogue: Derrybeg Fair and the ‘Prelude’ from the opera The Fairy Fiddler. The entries suggested that the editors had been ‘unable to trace’ the manuscripts.
The Fairy Fiddler was the first attempt that William Alwyn made at writing a ‘stage-work’: it was composed between 1924 and 1926 when the composer was in his late teens. The work was never quite finished. In fact, the present pieces would appear to be the only extracts that came near to completion.
Andrew Knowles has provided a short synopsis of the opera plot: - ‘Terry, the Fiddler has lost his art of playing, and Clodagh, whom he loves, has been stricken dumb by the evil machinations of the Witch of Roona. The fairies come to their aid, and by a magic spell Terry gives his voice to Clodagh, and though dumb himself now, is able to play on his fiddle again.’ Not a profound scheme perhaps, but a good, satisfying fairy tale with a ‘happy-ish’ ending. The libretto was written by the Irish poet and dramatist Gertrude Hind (1877-1951)
The music for the Prelude is a minor masterpiece. It can be listened to as a ‘tone-poem’ without having to read into it a programme derived from the opera. It is a truly beautiful work that shows considerable promise and invention. Derrrybeg Fair is a prelude to the last scene of the opera and describes a typically lively Irish fair in County Donegal. The work is in ternary form with vigorous music opening and closing the extract. However the middle section, which introduces the lovers’ theme, is bewitching. Interestingly, the Derrybeg Fair music was performed as a standalone work in 1926 and then again in 1936. I guess it has lain dormant since then.
Let us hope that Dutton Epoch or Naxos chose to record the last, few orchestral works in the catalogue that remain unheard.
This work has been released on Dutton Epoch CDLX7270 and can be purchased from theDutton Vocalion Wepage
Friday, 22 July 2011
Friday 22nd July
The BBC Philharmonic’s new Chief Conductor Designate Juanjo Mena gives a great concert of music by Ravel, de Falla and Debussy. I love all these works, especially Claude Debussy’s Images which is spread out in three sections over the evening – with de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain with Stephen Osborne as soloist being a major highlight. Naturally, as this is a Spanish Nigh there is no British Music. Although if asked, I could have suggested a few pieces by British composers that reflect the mood of the Iberian Peninsula. What about the Britten/Berkeley Mont Juic for example?
Saturday 23rd July
This evening is dedicated to a ‘Human Planet Prom’ with music by Nitin Sawhney. Other performances include music by Ayarkhaan (Sakha Republic), Bibilang Shark-Calling Group (Papua New Guinea), Khusugtun (Mongolia), Rasmus Lyberth (Greenland), and Enock Mbongwe (Zambia).
Sunday 24th July
This morning’s concert is also dedicated to a Human Planet Prom and also has music by Nitin Sawhney. It is not clear from the BBC Prom Website if this is different music to Saturday or a re-run of the same event.
Big night for Verdi enthusiasts - his masterly Requiem is performed by the BBC Symphony Chorus, the BBC National Chorus of Wales, the London Philharmonic Choir and the BBC Symphony Orchestra all conducted by Semyon Bychkov. Only this one work tonight.
Monday 25th July
At last there is a wee bit of British Music! However it is at a lunchtime concert, so anyone working will probably miss it! Two Fantasias by Henry Purcell and a new piece by Sally Beamish- Reed Stanzas (String Quartet No. 3). The concert concludes with Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B minor.
The evening Prom is given over to Gustav Mahler’s massive Symphony No.9
Tuesday 26th July
Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, Bartok’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Liszt's relatively rarely performed Faust Symphony feature in tonight’s Prom. No British Music today.
Wednesday 27th July
The first half of the Prom is all music by Frenchmen: Hector Berlioz’s Overture ‘Le Corsair’, Gabriel Faure’s Pavane and Pascal Dusapin’s String Quartet No. 6, 'Hinterland' ('Hapax' for string quartet and orchestra) This is his second feature at the Proms in two weeks!! After the interval Stravinsky’s Firebird is given in its complete form.
The late night concert is Indian music. No British Music today.
Thursday 28th July
Today’s concert is largely a Beethoven night – with the First and Seventh Symphonies. Included is the Flute Concerto by Marc-Andre Dalbavie before and Elliot Carter’s Flute concerto after the interval. Emmanuel Pahud in the soloist. No British Music today.
So the score for this week is ‘three’ works by British composers, albeit chamber works lasting just under twenty minutes in total! That is unless one counts the film music by Nitin Sawhney however, he is not listed as a ‘composer’ in the Proms Website list of composers.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Friday, 15 July 2011
Sunday, 10 July 2011
Friday, 8 July 2011
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
 Stabat Mater was first performed at the Leeds Festival 1907.
 Elsie Suddaby (1893-1980), lyric soprano premiered Gerald Finzi’s Dies Natalis in 1940. Dilys Jones, soprano often performed Bach, Parry, Elgar.
 Harry Plunkett Greene (1865-1936) Irish baritone, writer, biographer of Stanford, son-in-law of Sir Hubert Parry.
 D. Liddle is probably a typographical error. Samuel Liddle (1867-1951) was Greene’s accompanist.