Continuing my exploration of works first heard at the 1970 Cheltenham Festival of Music...
Although there are plenty of adverts on the internet for the score of Robin Holloway’s Scenes from Schumann, op.13, I could not locate a CD, download or YouTube recording. The composer has written a delightfully quirky programme note for this 22 minute piece: ‘[It]was composed in haste (after many months of feeble doodling with some favourites of his Lieder for a handful of players) in response to a sudden, unexpected deadline...My feeling about this defiant denial of/escape from the imprisoning Zeitgeist was guilt, doubt, shame, fear; but none of this is audible for a second in the notes: which also, from the very first rehearsal onwards, sounded right and good, pleased the (sometimes quizzical) players and then the (ditto) audience too.’
Formally, the Scenes feature seven paraphrases of six Schumann songs. These include ‘Widmung’ and ‘Die Lotosblume’ form Myrthen (1840) op.25; ‘Allnächtlich im Traume’ from Dichterliebe (1840) op.48, ‘Auf einer Burg’, ‘Mondnacht’ and ‘Frühlingsnacht’ from Liederkreis, op.39. Holloway states that he has re-composed the original: ‘in a manner for which Stravinsky’s treatment of Tchaikovsky in Le Baiser de la Feé is the nearest precedent. I have attempted to get ‘inside’ the songs and from the inside to send them in different directions…there is hardly a bar left which could have been written by Schumann, the intention is not to distort but to amplify and intensify the originals.’
Robin Holloway's ‘Souvenirs de Schumann’ (sic) was first performed by the BBC Welsh Orchestra under John Carewe on 10 July. Writing in the Musical Times (September 1970), Gerald Larner explains that ‘...certain songs by Schumann...provide the basic material of Holloway's piece, though it is his grotesque treatment of romantic melody which is its most interesting characteristic: it has that equivocation between affection and send-up typical of Ives's attitude to musical Americana (Holloway claims his innocence from all parodistic intention, but, surely, even the title is ironic).’
The Scenes from Schumann were due to be heard at a Promenade Concert on Wednesday 23 July 1980 at the Royal Albert Hall. Unfortunately, due to industrial action by the Musicians' Union this concert was cancelled. The work was later revised in 1986.
I can find no trace of Ian Kellam’s Festival Jubilate. This Sheffield born composer, who latterly lived on Moreton, Gloucestershire died in 2014, aged 81. Many of his works were choral, both secular and liturgical. There are several settings of the Anglican Morning and Evening Canticles and an important Gloucester Te Deum composed for the 13th centenary of the founding of the Cathedral. He also wrote a deal of incidental music as well as two operas.
Elizabeth Poston’s Benediction for the Arts was a setting for SATB choir and organ and dedicated to Lucian Nethsingha and the Choir of St. Michael’s College, Tenbury. The text was taken form Part III in the Devotions of John Austin (1613-1669). I was unable to locate either a printed score or a recording.
To be continued...