"Beginning to become faint" What an apt phrase that could describe the fate of many composers of "notated music" as Alex Ross would describe it. The lights dim for us all one day, but the miracle of recorded performances, now stretching back 100 years and more, preserves a tiny glimmer of light in may composers or musicians darkness as the memories of the living pass into oblivion.That comment was added to my post Thoughts on the death of another great musician by Mark A Meldon. Also in the Lyrita catalogue is Nicholas Braithwaite's account of William Wordsworth's Second and Third Symphonies - this is a studio rather than off air recording. The only audio examples of Wordsworth's symphonies I can find are these brief samples, which at least give a taste of this long forgotten symphonist. As Mark points out, Richard Itter's off air recordings of BBC broadcasts are being released with the co-operation of the BBC. In the past contractual problems with the musicians involved in the original broadcast have been cited as the reason why the BBC's priceless archive of classical recordings could not be made available. But these recordings from 1971 and 1979 by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra of William Wordsworth's symphonies must have been contractually cleared. So why cannot the riches in the BBC's classical archive be made available online in the same way that British Pathé has made its entire collection of 85,000 historic films available on YouTube?
We must not forget that many small, independent, records labels (some, no doubt, akin to cottage industry) preserve music for us. Or should that be "curate"? Just last night I was listening to a Lyrita release of two long forgotten symphonies by William Wordsworth taped off air by the late Richard Itter and released with the co-operation of the BBC. Interesting stuff composed by an interesting man who, I guess, will never be performed live ever again and certainly not by Mr Dudamel and his all-star orchestra.
These small (and not so small in the case of Chandos & Hyperion, for example) record labels deserve our support and money for releasing this stuff and, one day, I fear that the just-departed Maxwell Davies will glimmer in the gloom as far as the "major" record companies are concerned.
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