Ralph Vaughan Williams Conducts His Symphony No. 5, 1952

Ralph Vaughan WIlliams.jpg

This recording was made off-air by a sound engineer using state-of-the-art recording equipment for the time that used rare and expensive long-playing acetate disks. The symphony was first performed in June 1943 (at the height of the blitz) but this recording captures a later performance in September 1952. There are four movements: Preludio 0:00 Scherzo 11:40 Romanza 16:40 Passacaglia 26:42.

My beloved John Wilson is slated to conduct this symphony with the Royal Northern Sinfonia at The Sage in his home town of Gateshead in March 2019.

Advertisements

Serenade for Strings by Lennox Berkeley, Performed by the LSO and Conducted by the Composer

The most intriguing piece in the programs of my bonny John Wilson’s upcoming concerts is this one, Serenade for Strings op.12, which he’s conducting at The Sage in Gateshead, his home town, in March 2019.

While sojourning in Europe Berkeley studied under Maurice Ravel and fell in love with Benjamin Britten which…actually…might make a good Saturday Drama for BBC Radio 4…

Lennox Berkeley Love.jpg

Nope, forget it. I’m dry.

Harriet Cohen Plays Cornish Rhapsody by Hubert Bath, Featured in the 1944 Film, Love Story

Margaret Lockwood is a dying pianist, Stewart Granger is an RAF pilot going blind in this wartime romance from Gainsborough Pictures.

Harriet Cohen Frame.jpg

Legendary pianist, anti-fascist activist and muse to Arnold Bax, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others Harriet Cohen at the piano here. “Cornish Rhapsody” was written by Hubert Bath (who also wrote, for all you English sports fans, “Out of the Blue” for the BBC5 Sports Report).

Conductor John Wilson’s First Appearance in the Royal Albert Hall, BBC Proms, 2007

It would appear that John’s very first time on the podium in the Albert Hall was, at age 35, conducting the 50-piece BBC Concert Orchestra in Sir William Walton’s score from the unseemly gorgeous 1969 war picture Battle of Britain. “Battle in the Air” is spirited, ravishing and very dramatic. I saw the film first run in Minneapolis, then again in London and then again in, of all places, Patras, Greece, but it’s the music I remember most.

John Wilson Battle.jpeg

Yes love, that overtone did seem to go on forever, didn’t it?

Fanfares, an Album by Onyx Brass, Conducted by John Wilson

Release date 8 March 2018 from Chandos. After having creditably conducted a brass-heavy, atonal new Turnage piece with the LSO and a circus in Berlin for New Year’s (Circus Roncalli, named after Cardinal Roncalli, His Holiness Pope John XXIII) I suppose my bonny lad was ready for a new challenge. Knowing nothing about the English brass tradition maybe this isn’t the right album for me to be assessing musically. Still, I will follow (almost) anywhere my beloved leads me, so here we are.

John Wilson & Onyx Brass 2

The only fanfares I know at present are Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” (here performed and riffed on by Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and—like any red-blooded American—the fanfare that begins Alexander Courage’s “Star Trek Theme” (repeated here); but I also remember from my girlhood a stirring, very English fanfare that provided the theme for the 1967 BBC series The Forsyte Saga, which I found out only recently is the beginning of the first movement entitled “Halcyon Days” from the suite The Three Elizabeths written by Eric Coates.

Said MusicWeb International of Fanfares: “John Wilson proves himself to be a deft and intelligent interpreter of this music which he allows to push on in flamboyant display or swagger with burnished grandeur as the mood demands. The playing of the expanded Onyx brass is of exactly the right kind of easy virtuosity and blazing brilliance.”

Check back for my comments after I’ve heard in entirety every one of these 58 freakin cuts.

“The Rio Grande” by Constant Lambert, Broadcast Live from the Royal Albert Hall, 12 September 1959

A very nifty, lively, jazzy modernist piece written by Constant Lambert (The Who manager Kit Lambert’s dad) in 1927. Australian virtuoso Eileen Joyce, who famously played the heart-wrenching Rachmaninoff in the film Brief Encounter, is at the piano here. County Antrim-born Jean Allister, contralto soloist, joins her with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Chorus. At the podium is Sir Malcolm Sargent.

The Rio Grande.jpeg

Composer-novelist Anthony Burgess, in his autobiography Little Wilson and Big God (Burgess was christened John Burgess Wilson and his confirmation name was Anthony) wrote, “Lambert, who admired Duke Ellington and proclaimed his harmonic roots in Frederick Delius (who in his turn had taken them from Debussy), was a fearless reconciler of what the academies and Tin Pan Alley alike presumed to be eternally opposed. I was present at that first performance, and so was my father. And, in 1972, on a plane from New York to Toronto, I found myself sitting next to Duke Ellington, who spoke almost with tears of the stature of Lambert, admitted that he had learned much from both Delius and Debussy, and expressed scorn for the old musical division, which had been almost as vicious as a colour bar. He had lived to see it dissolve and jazz become a legitimate item in the academic curricula.” [More Burgess on Lambert here.]