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Garry P. Humphreys "garryph" (London, England)
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Requiem: (vocal Score) (Faber Edition)
Requiem: (vocal Score) (Faber Edition)
by Peter Sculthorpe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Didjeridu Requiem, 28 Aug. 2011
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Like so many of Peter Sculthorpe's works, this requiem features that quintessential Australian instrument, the didjeridu (this is the composer's and publisher's favoured spelling, incidentally). There is also a movement based on an Aboriginal lullaby. Sculthorpe is also influenced by plainsong and the unlikely combination of the Australian Outback and Gregorian chant is remarkably effective. The score is a prime example of Faber's beautiful and elegant music printing and a joy to read and own.


Stainer: The Crucifixion (Andrew Kennedy/Neal Davis/Huddersfield Choral Society/Cullen)
Stainer: The Crucifixion (Andrew Kennedy/Neal Davis/Huddersfield Choral Society/Cullen)
Price: £14.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite recording, 3 Aug. 2011
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I bought this on the strength of a very good review (by Jeremy Dibble) in The Gramophone, February 2010, but must admit to being rather disappointed. The performance, though good in itself (all the right notes in all the right places), seems to lack impact, colour and definition, compared with recordings by smaller, brighter cathedral or college choirs. And where is the stunning tuba interjection first heard in the organ accompaniment at bar 8 of 'Fling wide the gates'?

I've always believed 'The Crucifixion' to be an unnecessarily underestimated work that gains much from the right sort of performance. This isn't it, I'm afraid, however caring the preparation and execution. The tenor soloist, the excellent Andrew Kennedy, sings beautifully but with not much passion or sheer oomph, such as the role demands.

One of my favourite features, the wonderful hymn tunes that can be so expressive and moving in their dignity (like the chorales in a Bach passion), are performed in a very monochrome, run-of-the-mill manner.

This sort of performance might suit some listeners, but not me. Nor Stainer, I suspect: he wrote it for the choir of St Marylebone Parish Church in London, presumably with the sound of that type of choir in mind. No reason why larger, mixed amateur choirs shouldn't sing it (as has happened for years in Nonconformist chapels, of course - this is where the work was kept alive) but they need to work hard on expression and dynamics - and words!

It's a dramatic piece, not a religious ramble, and conductors must inspire their performers to see it that way.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2013 3:09 AM GMT


Futtock's End [1969] [DVD]
Futtock's End [1969] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ronnie Barker
Price: £7.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still funny - and very clever, 31 July 2011
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This review is from: Futtock's End [1969] [DVD] (DVD)
I was prompted to get this DVD - and rediscover this amusing film - after visiting Grims Dyke, W S Gilbert's former home at Harrow Weald, where most of the action is located. I did not previously know this, so now it has an added interest. Very cleverly conceived and wonderful characterizations by a distinguished cast: Barker, of course, and particularly the late, great Michael Hordern. I think my reaction is different from 30 years ago, when it first appeared on television, but it's still well worth watching.


Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze
Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze
by Joseph Haydn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.91

4.0 out of 5 stars A clarification, 14 April 2011
A close scrutiny of the illustration shown here indicates that this is a vocal score - not otherwise stated by Amazon. This is important to know because this work also exists as a setting for string quartet. The quartet version does not seem to be available via Amazon but the score number from Henle is HN9771. Henle is just about the most reliable modern publisher of Haydn at the present time.


Bach - Six Cello Suites
Bach - Six Cello Suites
Offered by Manns Music
Price: £12.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best edition if you want pure Bach, 18 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Bach - Six Cello Suites
If you want an edition of the Bach Cello Suites with the least editorial interference this is the one to have. (The same can be said for most of Barenreiter's other editions of Bach's works, instrumental, vocal and choral.) Beautifully produced too, particularly the exceptionally clear typography. There may be some interest in having an edition in which an editor or celebrated player has imposed their no doubt perfectly legitimate ideas for bowing, phrasing, dynamics, etc., but the Urtext surely has to be the starting point for any original appreciation of these great works. This is it. (Barenreiter, incidentally, also publishes a facsimile of Bach's original manuscript.)

I've just noticed that my review has for some reason become attached to an edition of the Bach suites from Faber Music. It was originally attached to the Barenreiter edition (the one with the blue cover) - BA320. I know nothing of this Faber edition and my comments do not apply to it!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2014 3:06 PM GMT


Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies: v. 2 (Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain)
Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies: v. 2 (Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain)
by Bennett Zon
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Item never received!, 1 Mar. 2011
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I never did receive this item (which was ordered with Volume 3) because the Amazon agent Transmedia omitted it from the parcel containing Vol. 3 (even though it appeared on the dispatch note) then refused to respond to several e-mails to resolve the matter. Eventually, through the Amazon complaints procedure, I got a refund - but what I really wanted was my book (at the price Transmedia were selling it for). Very, very bad conduct on Transmedia's part, and I hope Amazon has taken them to task over it!


Wrong Sex, Wrong Instrument
Wrong Sex, Wrong Instrument
by Christopher Morley
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book!, 14 Dec. 2010
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I can only echo all the other reviewers' comments here! This is a wonderful book, extremely well-written and informative as well as hugely entertaining. I remember Maggie Cotton from when I attended CBSO concerts as a schoolboy in the 1960s at the Nottingham Albert Hall.


The Sherlock Holmes Collection Box Set [DVD]
The Sherlock Holmes Collection Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Cushing
Price: £11.96

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A serious piece of miscasting, 14 Dec. 2010
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In this memorable BBC series Holmes was originally played by Douglas Wilmer; Cushing replaced him subsequently, but with Nigel Stock still as Dr Watson. A pity, for Cushing was not really at home in this role whereas Wilmer was absolutely first class and in his own way as good as Jeremy Brett. The BBC has just issued the complete surviving Wilmer/Stock series in the USA - why not here (or Why not here first)? Let's hope they will do this soon. In the meantime, a taste of Wilmer as Holmes can be seen on YouTube.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2011 10:12 PM BST


Anton Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 6 And 8 In Full Score Orch (Dover Music Scores)
Anton Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 6 And 8 In Full Score Orch (Dover Music Scores)
by Anton Bruckner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.23

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst Dover score ever?, 14 Dec. 2010
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I can't believe Dover has allowed this score to be published in view of this publisher's usually excellent standards. Nowhere are the origins of these editions stated (which with Bruckner is of great importance), no editor named, etc. In addition the quality of print of the Eighth Symphony is, frankly, appalling, enlarged far beyond the capacity of the original engraving to remain clear, and too large anyway for effective reading. A great disappointment in view of the tantalizing delay in making this item available. Dover should withdraw this publication immediately, do it again properly, then offer anyone who has purchased the item we are discussing a free replacement. After the excellent issue of Symphonies 4 and 7 (ed. Haas) one might reasonably have expected 'more of the same'. Until amends are made, DON'T buy this!


The Songs of Ronald Corp
The Songs of Ronald Corp
Price: £12.71

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid recording, long overdue, 1 Dec. 2010
I know nothing of the method by which Ronald Corp composes but his music always sounds as if it flows naturally from him and all he has to do is simply write it down. Perhaps this derives from the fact that, as a small child (as he reveals in his liner notes), he composed before he could really read or write music. So many composers seem hidebound by the writing of notes on the page and working out sequentially where to go next almost solely on what they see rather than hear.

Songs of course are conceived in a rather different way because an existing text is the starting point; but words can suggest music too if read with imagination, and Corp's remarkable achievement here is that his settings, often of all-too-familiar poems, seem absolutely `right' - and genuinely singable (he understands the voice very well) - yet uninfluenced by existing settings of the same words by other composers.

And yet Corp is not a revolutionary composer - evolutionary might be a more apt description - and although his concept of an individual poem may differ from other composers' interpretations, Corp's style acknowledges his debt particularly to those composers of the so-called English Musical Renaissance. I hear Parry, Quilter and Vaughan Williams in particular, but as accents of a distinctive voice of his own.

Corp has composed prolifically, so although this is the first time any of his songs has been commercially recorded, this disc contains by no means all of them. For instance, the series called `The Music of ...', represented here by his Housman and Whitman cycles, also includes settings of Michael Drayton, Keats, Byron, Yeats and `most of the famous poets'. Perhaps we may anticipate further recordings, covering more of these songs, some of which have an obbligato instrument in addition to the piano.

Corp destroyed most of his teenage compositions, with one exception, which is heard here: a setting of Tennyson's `Break, break, break', written in 1966. `I could not throw this song away', he says.

The range of songs on this disc is wide, ranging in style `from art song to the more overtly humorous'. This includes songs he has written for children's voices, but one would not guess this, listening to the performances here, for they sit quite comfortably side by side with the `grown-up' pieces.

Much of the credit for this goes to the two performers, the baritone Mark Stone and the pianist Simon Lepper, both absolutely impeccable from beginning to end. My only criticism (and it's a very mild one) is that Stone is sometimes rather too gentlemanly, and I feel could roughen his voice or be a bit more uninhibited when the words and music call for it. Something of what might have been is heard at the end of Corp's setting of Harry Graham's wonderful poem `The Bath', which would make a very suitable encore, particularly in a programme of `songs on a watery theme', which was the context for which it was originally written, at the request of the mezzo-soprano Catherine Hopper.

Here too are pieces by writers less commonly set to music, Byron and Mervyn Peake, but those that are more familiar, such as Housman, are represented by less familiar verse - `It nods and curtseys and recovers', `Now hollow fires burn out to black' and `Stone, steel, dominions pass', for example. `I also wanted the music to be a little abrasive because I felt that some past settings of Housman had veered, to their detriment, towards the genteel', says the composer. `Housman's irony and gritty pessimism' (as Geoffrey Bush once described it) can be difficult to capture but Corp does, I think, succeed in doing so.

The only song I would not care to hear again, despite the advocacy of composer and performers, is a setting of Colin Coppen's `Give to my eyes, Lord': long lines and six seemingly endless verses of it. And yet, it is apparently popular enough for the Oxford University Press to publish it in versions for children's choirs, adult choirs, and as a solo song - as on this disc. A purely personal view of course, but I feel Corp becomes a trifle sentimental, here and elsewhere, when faced with religious texts of a certain sort. The choral versions, with their greater scope for varied vocal colour and texture, are perhaps more palatable.

But the strength of this disc lies in the three song cycles, by Whitman and Housman and 'Flower of Cities', an anthology of London poems by Dunbar, Byron, Wordsworth, Blake and Henry Carey, which opens the programme. This and The Music of Housman include a Corp characteristic: a `reprise' - a modified repeat of the opening, giving a sense of unity to the cycle.

The most substantial item, the Whitman cycle, is very fine, and although written in 1973 this is not only its first recording but in fact its first performance, which rather shocks me, for I am certain that the composer gave me a copy of this work sometime in the 1970s which for some reason I never sang and subsequently appear to have lost. I feel very foolish and very, very ashamed.

There are thirty-nine songs on this disc and it is a tribute to all involved that interest very seldom wanes. More please.

adapted from my review on MusicWeb
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Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2011 9:22 PM GMT


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