Sunday, November 25, 2007

File between Boulez and Boyce

Keith has left a new comment on your post "Music and chance":

Another B composer, York Bowen. On Sunday 18th Nov, I got up early and went to the newly re-furbished Birmingham Town Hall complete with lighting gantry with perspex sound diffusers and a restored organ for a Sunday Morning Coffee Concert.

I heard the Trio Chausson, a French trio, performing Haydn, Brahms and a trio by York Bowen (left). The piano player in the trio, Boris De Larochelambert, had seen some of Bowen's music, and had researched and found the manuscript of the Piano Trio in E minor, Op118 in an archive in London. He has produced a performing score, and we heard it played during this morning concert.

I'm not musically trained, and what I heard that morning left a strong feeling of expressive music with a wide dynamic range, with the piano leading and the violin and cello floating above and often playing against each other. There were plenty of rhythmic changes, light and shade, but I can't recall any strong tunes as such - it was music about feeling, dark skies with streaks of sun, and not for whistling. I think it sounded 20th century - certainly not classical - but there was no trace of 12 tone or atonal sound, which chimes with the biography below.

Lyndon Jenkins did express surprise that such music remained unpublished and unrecorded - perhaps one for Naxos?

The concert formed part of the ECHO rising stars series, and I could get used to an hour and a quarter or so of music at 11 am on a Sunday. The main floor of the hall was about 60 to 70% full, so I am not alone. Alas, most of us were on the mature side of 40.

"Following his death in 1961, Bowen's music is now largely out of print, very few works appear in concert programmes and his chamber music is hardly played. However, there is a revival underway and thanks to recent recordings and Monica Watson's book "York Bowen - A Centenary Tribute" (1984), (Thames Publishing), listeners and performers are becoming aware of a wonderful musician and some truly extraordinary music."


Thanks Keith. There is a fine recording of York Bowens' Viola Concerto on Hyperion. The soloist is Lawrence Power, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Martyn Brabbins, who featured here recently in Snape Skyscape. It is also worth noting that York Bowen makes it into the Gramophone Good Classical CD Guide, whereas Karlheinz Stockhausen doesn't!
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2 comments:

niktaylor said...

Dutton Epoch also has some fine recordings of Bowen's music including the above Trio. Reading your blog I was listening to Bowen's Piano Concerto No. 2 on the Radio 3 Request show.

JW said...

I've played some Bowen (Horn Quintet, Viola Sonata No.1), and it's wonderful. He is a classic. He was also one of the greatest pianists ever. You should hear him play his own 4th Piano Concerto with Boult. It's extraordinary.