Monday, March 09, 2009

Desert island diversion


Fascinating where these paths lead. I am not interested in repeating successes started with Philip Glass and Tibetan Uprising Day. But is has gone off in such an interesting direction that I have given it an article of its own. The thread starts with the comments below on yesterday's post. If anyone can find a link between Sir Adrian Boult and Tibet, other than that he recorded for the Everest label, they will win a virtual bottle of champagne.

Philip - ... This post was of especial interest, given the proclivities of my own thought -- I must read more about Rubbra, for I have missed something there.

Pliable - I do recommend Rubbra's Fifth Symphony (what is it about Fifth Symphonies?) if you don't know it. This is the work that introduced me to Rubbra. The other evening I listened again to the 1978 Chandos recording by Hans-Hubert Schonzeler and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Wonderful music and wonderful performance, and it is available from the Chandos website for £4.88. Here are two pieces of Rubbra trivia. Toscanini performed Rubbra's Brahms Variations (an orchestration of Brahms' Variations on a Theme of Handel) in January 1939 with the NBC Symphony in New York. The performance for radio was also issued as a commercial disc. And Sir Adrian Boult chose Rubbra's Second Symphony as one of his Desert Island Discs) in 1979. He was the dedicatee of the work!

Philip - Many thanks for these tips, Pliable. I have neglected Rubbra, so there is a large lacuna to fill here. I have a link to the Naxos Music Library, whereon all the symphonies from Hickox on Chandos, as also the Australian performance of the Fifth and Jarvi with the LSO in the Brahms/Handel Variations, so already I have made a start. Boult's desert island choice made me curious, so I started with that and enjoyed it. The fact that I'm a Sibelian would rather explain that, and would certainly explain why I was quite bowled over by the Fifth -- twice, as I listened to both recordings. The Handel Variations with Jarvi is coupled with the Schoenberg arrangement of the G minor Piano Quartet. I've never liked the Schoenberg and thought the Rubbra far better, certainly truer to Brahms. I must say, though, that I shall go back to Jarvi's performance of the Schoenberg because what he gets up to with the last movement, much helped by the recording, is hilarious. Made me chuckle. And now, the rest of Rubbra's symphonies await. I'm rather curious as to what else Sir Adrian had on that list of his.
What else did Sir Adrian have on his Desert Island Disc list? Well, actually he appeared on the programme twice, and here are his two lists:

28 March 1960:
- Mozart Symphony No. 36 (Linz), conductor Bruno Walter
- Weber overture Der Freisch├╝tz, conductor by Nikisch
- Brahms Der Schmied sung by Elena Gerhardt, conductor Nikisch
- extract from King George V's 1935 silver jubilee broadcast
- motet O Taste and See by Vaughan Williams
- Rossini overture La Scala di seta, conductor Toscanini with BBCSO
- Galliard of the Sons of the Morning from Vaughan William's Job, Sir Adrian's own recording as it was the only one at that time!
- Mozart Third Horn Concerto in E flat played by Aubrey Brain with the BBCSO
The book Sir Adrian chose was Bunyan's The Pilgrims Progress and his luxury was a warm blanket.

April 7, 1979
- Mozart Symphony No 40, conductor Richard Strauss
- Rubbra's Second Symphony, conductor Vernon Handley with NPO
- Bliss' Meditations on a Theme of John Blow, CBSO with conductor Hugo Rignold
- 'When I set out for Lyonnesse' Finzi's Hardy setting Earth and Air and Rain sung by John Carol Case (baritone)
- Robert Simpson's Third Symphony, LSO conducted by Jascha Horenstein
- Requien aeternam from Howells Hymnus Paradisi conducted by Sir David Willcocks
- extract from King George V's silver jubilee broadcast
- Parry's anthem 'I was glad', Choir of King's College, Cambridge conductor Philip Ledger
Sir Adrian's choice of book was, again, The Pilgrims Progress. But his luxury this time was a panama hat filled with barley sugar!

The Finzi song chosen in 1979 was on the Lyrita label. Sir Adrian had been recording Gerald Finzi's complete orchestral music for Lyrita, and his beautiful 1978 record of the composer's orchestral miniatures is seen above. But Sir Adrian's increasing frailty forced him to hand the Finzi recordings over to Tod Handley. In the year of the second Desert Island Discs broadcast I was working for EMI, and I sent Sir Adrian the Lyrita LP made by Tod and Yo Yo Ma of Finzi's sublime Cello Concerto, a recording originally scheduled for Sir Adrian. This letter came back from the 90-year-old Sir Adrian. I have transcribed it below.




Dear Mr Shingleton
How very kind of you to send me that record of the Finzi Concerto. I'm so glad that Lyrita are completing those Finzi records.
I'm sorry I was so hesitant over the Canadian stuff, but your Editor seems always to make sense when even nonsenses are forthcoming for him!
Many thanks for all your work,
Adrian C. Boult


The story of 'the Canadian stuff' is told here.

Sir Adrian Boult letter is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2009. The portrait of Sir Adrian on the Lyrita LP is by Joy Finzi. As wellas being the wife of the composer Joy Finzi was a remarkable woman in her own right. Visit this website for more about her. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

3 comments:

Philip said...

Thank you so much again. I really wasn't hinting, but it did go through my mind that you might know Boult's other choices. I was wondering if Sir Adrian might want to drop me any other hints re my musical lacunae, and there is one -- Robert Simpson. A bit embarrassing, really. I recall a disc of string quartets and that's it, which means another eleven symphonies to add to Rubbra's, just to begin. I was very surprised to find in the NML naught but Simpson's Volcano. Naxos itself will surely get to Simpson in time, but I also thought Hyperion was in the NML, which would be ideal -- Tod Handley. Perhaps it was and is no longer for some reason. It is rare I have a musical salivation without finding nourishing things in there -- my musical pie in the fridge, ahem. I do want to hear Handley in this music, so I shall seek elsewhere.

Pliable said...

Philip, the Jascha Horenstein recording of Robert Simpson's Third Symphony, as selected by Sir Adrian, is available at a very attractive price, both as a CD and as a download -

http://nmc.greedbag.com/buy/robert-simpson-symphony-no3-anco-0/

radiomovies said...

The Rubbra Soliloquy is gorgeous. I think it was written for William Pleeth when they were both serving in the forces (but that's probably on overactive imagination on an underactive memory).

It's for solo cello with string orchestra and timpani (I think).

Finzi's Dies Natalis for tenor and strings is stunning too.

I heard The Delme Quartet play some of the Simpson Quartets in the early 80's when they were coaching us on a music course. I think they recorded them too.

best

philip S