This forgotten Rubbra really is a big deal

...for Rubbra had produced something fit to stand alongside his best, and in its beauty of string-orchestral sound, alongside classics in the genre by Elgar, Schönberg, Vaughan Williams, Barber, Strauss and Tippett.
That is Leo Black writing in his biography of Edmund Rubbra about the composer's Sinfonietta, and the refreshingly positive response to my recent post Rubbra is a big deal prompts me to make the case for this work. If Rubbra is a forgotten composer, his Sinfonietta for large string orchestra is a doubly forgotten classic. This valedictory work was written in the last year of the composer's life to a commission by the Albany Symphony Orchestra, New York and was given its first performance in December 1986 ten months after Rubbra died. A recording of the Albany premiere was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 shortly afterwards as an appendix to a broadcast cycle of Rubbra's symphonies. But since then the Sinfonietta has slipped into unjustified oblivion. It was mysteriously omitted from Richard Hickox's cycle of Rubbra symphonies for Chandos, despite being considered by many to be the composer's twelfth symphony in all but name. To my knowledge there has been just one commercial recording - inevitably now deleted - for EMI by Rubbra's champion and friend Hans-Hubert Schönzeler. However, the parts remain available, so please could an enterprising conductor and orchestra seize the opportunity and start the rehabilitation process for this classic of string writing.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. 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).


Pliable said…
Among other notable works commissioned by the visionary Albany Symphony Orchestra are the Eleventh and Twelfth Symphonies of George Lloyd -

Recent popular posts

Untold story of the counterculture's Islamic connection

Requiem for my vinyl

How to reach a big new post-COVID classical audience

I put a spell on you

Berlin Philharmonic's first woman conductor

Vonnegut gets his Dresden facts wrong

Classical music must face the facts - click bait pays

The Berlin Philharmonic's darkest hour

Grammy takes a Dame Ethel trip

Philippa Schuyler - genius or genetic experiment?