Suite from the Score of Truly Madly Deeply by Barrington Pheloung (1954 – 2019)

Truly Madly Deeply.jpg
Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman tug at our hearts in this calculated romance.

Mournful noodling distinguishes this piece. I remember the movie—adore the movie—but just don’t remember the music at all. Australian-born, Royal College of Music graduate Pheloung, who died last week at the age of 65, got some considerable write-ups for having been the composer of the popular Inspector Morse theme which, again, isn’t to my taste. I’m guessing the author of Waving, Not Drowning (which I reviewed on Amazon and below) borrowed the name for his fictional conductor, Barrington Orwell, from Pheloung. It’s a small world over there.

So, My Beloved John Wilson, When Are You Going to Conduct Vaughan Williams’s 6th? (Answer Below!!!)

I see your master plan, John. You did Symphonies 1 and 2 last year; this year you’re doing 3, 4, and 5 (but not in that order). And considering the rest of the year you’re going to be busying yourself with Massenet, then the Proms (two shows Friday, 9 August 2019), then I suppose you’ll go on tour with The JWO for the holiday season (UPDATE 27 JULY 2019: NO, THEY’RE NOT!) . So…I’m figuring sometime early next year for no. 6, right? If not early next year, sometime next year…?*

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 6 in E Minor
Sir Roger Norrington, Conductor
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (1997)

* I was right! My bonny’s performing Vaughan Williams’s 6th in Nottingham on 15 January 2020 with the BBC Philharmonic (in a program that includes “In the Fen Country”, also by Vaughan Williams).

Roger NorringtonNorrington is the conductor who believes in using no vibrato. “Wobble” he calls it.

And what about 7, 8 and 9? Are we going to hear them next year, or the year after? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s Vaughan Williams’s Symphony no. 6 I’m really after. What a strange piece of music. Even without comparing it to Symphonies 1 through 5, it’s still a strange piece, though intriguing enough for me to want to listen to again and possibly again. (And of course I am eager to hear you, flame of my heart. What a wondrous thing you’ll make of it…)

Royal Gala at Windsor Castle for the Royal College of Music

But one little bad review doesn’t phase my bonny. On Thursday 16 May 2019, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, President of the Royal College of Music (RCM), held a special gala concert at Windsor Castle. The concert showcased some of the RCM’s most acclaimed alumni, including Sir Thomas Allen, Dame Sarah Connolly and Conductor John Wilson, performing alongside Maxim Vengerov, Polonsky Visiting Professor of Violin, and the talented young musicians in the RCM Chamber Orchestra. The evening included a performance of George Frideric Handel’s Overture to an English Opera (here played by the Little Orchestra of London).

Windsor Castle Gala 2019 news itemI’d know the back of that head anywhere.

 

Bradley Creswick, Leader of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Discusses Vaughan Williams’s “The Lark Ascending”

Royal Northern Sinfonia Leader Bradley Creswick
Taken at the upstairs hall at The Sage, the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s permanent home in Gateshead, on the south side of the river from Newcastle. That’s the Tyne and the Tyne Bridge out the window.

Royal Northern Sinfonia is a British chamber orchestra, founded in Newcastle upon Tyne and currently based in Gateshead. For the first 46 years of its history, the orchestra gave the bulk of its concerts at the Newcastle City Hall. Since 2004, the orchestra has been resident at The Sage, Gateshead. In June 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the title “Royal” on the orchestra, formally naming it the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

This is the group John Wilson wished a happy birthday to, and it’s a truly worthwhile one: The RNS has an outstanding record in community outreach in the northeast of England. It’s pleasing to think that my bonny John had a childhood filled with such musical memories—makes me recall Northrop Auditorium and the Minneapolis Symphony, now the Minnesota Orchestra. (Will tell all about my Vietnam War-era music school/protest days sometime.)

The vid above doesn’t have the entire Vaughan Williams, so here’s my Tyneside lad conducting this exquisite piece:

The Lark Ascending
Made in Britain, album
Ralph Vaughan Williams, composer
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
John Wilson, conductor
Avie Records, 2011

 

Serenade for Strings by Lennox Berkeley (1938-39), Performed by the LSO and Conducted by the Composer

The composer who wrote this piece has obviously been in love. It’s in the music.

In fact, while sojourning in Europe Berkeley studied under Maurice Ravel and did fall in love with Benjamin Britten which…hmmm…might make a good Saturday Drama for BBC Radio 4…

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Anyway, the sunniest piece in the programs of my bonny John Wilson’s upcoming concerts is this one, Serenade for Strings op.12, which he’s conducting with the Royal Northern Sinfonia in a program entitled Great Britons, again at The Sage in Gateshead, his home town, 1 March 2019.

Ralph Vaughan Williams Conducts His Symphony No. 5, 1952

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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 conducted this symphony with the Royal Northern Sinfonia at The Sage in his home town of Gateshead in March 2019.

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.

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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).