A personal musical journey

Last nights meeting was a presentation by Anthony Powell in which he played music which he has enjoyed over his life.  As we move into the electronic age, and increasingly people download their music from the internet, it is hard to remember that there are people who’s first experience was with 78s.  For younger readers these are discs that rotated at 78 rpm.  They didn’t last long and any piece of any length involved several disks and several trips to the turntable to turn them over.

The first piece was Beethoven’s Egmont overture which was a transcription from a 78 and was recorded by Toscanini.  Typical of this conductor it was a very forthright performance and sounded good despite the fact it was mono and of some vintage.

Tony’s first LP (can we all not forget our first LP and the trip back from the shop to play it for the first time?) was Beethoven (again) 5th Symphony conducted by Bernard Haitink.  This was a live recording at Birmingham and the audience burst into applause at the end of this thrilling piece.

Next was Mahler and the end of his Symphony No. 3 followed by Rimsky Korsakov and this was a version recorded from a Decca 7″ record which were popular around 40 or so years ago.  Many of us took advantage of these budget priced discs.

Next we heard the finale of the thrilling Shostakovich Violin concerto.  Alongside the music Anthony had brought in a collection of signed autographs of composers and conductors.  Some he had acquired by writing to Russia at a time when this was an unusual thing to do.

A lifelong liking for the Late Quartets of Beethoven was illustrated by an extract from No 16 in F major.  There are pieces that stay with you throughout your life and you never tire of them.

This was followed by the Sanctus from Berlioz’s Grande Messe Des Morts performed in St Paul’s cathedral and conducted by the late Sir Colin Davies a Berlioz specialist.  A feature of the evening was the large preponderance of live recordings which, although sometimes less than perfect, do have a certain electricity to them which a studio recording can lack.

The rest of the programme included;

  • Robert Simpson’s Symphony No. 4

    Thomas Ades
  • Beethoven’s Misa Solemnis
  • 3rd movement from Thomas Adès’s Violin Concerto (2005)
  • two songs by Richard Strauss
  • and the evening finished – appropriately enough – with final part of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony No. conducted by Klaus Tenndstedt recorded in 1989

A most enjoyable evening and truly a Dance to the Time of Music.

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