The new seasons programme has now been agreed and contains an exciting mix of composers and presentations. Starting on Monday 17th of September with Anthony Powell’s intriguingly entitled: One composer’s journey into silence and then to resignation.
The programme includes presentations on Debussy, Ravel and Elgar among others. There is also an evening on the music of Valentin Alkan – a ‘neglected genius’ as the presenter will say. We heard something of him last season so hearing more will be interesting. There are many such composers who were immensely popular in their day but are almost unheard of now.
We will be posting details nearer the time so keep an eye on this site to see what’s happening.
If you are not a member details are on a tab at the top of the site and remember parking is easy and free.
Entry is £3 for visitors.
The full programme can be downloaded from the link below and may we ask members to print off a copy and possibly give it to someone who might be interested. We are printing the leaflets so they should be available next week in Oxfam and the TIC (if it hasn’t disappeared that is).
Two hundred years ago this month, Adolphe Sax was born in Dinant, Belgium. The son of a music maker, he went on to invent an instrument which is the only one to bear the name of its inventor: the #saxophone. Last Monday, the Recorded Music Society, to mark the anniversary of his birth, listened to a programme of orchestral music using this instrument. It is a standard feature of jazz ensembles but it is only occasionally heard in orchestras and the repertoire for it is not large.
The presenter of the evenings programme was Ed Tinline – joint chair of the Society – who provided a fascinating history of the inventor himself and played examples of music from soon after its invention to the present day. One of the first composers to use it was the now unknown Jean-Baptiste Singeléewho composed Premier Quatour from which we heard the andante played using four instruments actually made by Sax himself.
Strangely, it was the Russian composers who were keenest to compose work for the instrument and Ed played excerpts from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and also compositions by Glazunov: Concerto for alto saxophone and string orchestra, Jazz Suite No 1 by Shostakovich and Rachmaninov’s SymphonicDances. Georges Bizet was a fan and the intermezzo from L’Arlésienne features the instrument. Despite attempts by composers such as Walton, Britten and Vaughan Williams to include it into their music, it remains an ‘affiliate’ rather than a permanent feature of orchestras.
It has gained an odd reputation for itself and some feel there is an element of sleaze to it possibly because of its jazz connections. This was sufficient for the ecclesiastical authorities in Worcester Cathedral to ask for a section of a Vaughan Williams composition not to be played because it contained some music for the instrument!
The next meeting is a members evening and is on December 1st.
Our view of a piece of music can sometimes be clouded by our belief of when it was composed. Somehow, we expect music in the nineteenth century to be romantic and in the twentieth, modern. So if we hear a piece that seems ‘out of its time’ we might in some way find it hard to accept. It was these reflections which led Anthony Powell last night to present a programme of music which was all composed at broadly the same time. What was striking was how different and varied the pieces were: if asked one might have thought half a century spanned their compositions when in fact it was around a decade. Truly, a dance to the music of (short) time.
He started with the overture to Jenufa by Janacek composed in 1894. Janacek was rarely heard until well into this century but is now a regular fixture in concert halls and his operas, such as The Cunning Little Vixen are frequently heard. He followed that up by an extract of the Sinfonietta arguably the most familiar of his works.
We then heard some Elgar who’s Symphonic Study, Falstaff was written only a few years after Janacek’s yet sounded an age apart. Other pieces included the Claude Debussy’s tonal work La Mer written a year or two after Elgar yet sounding completely different.
Another contrast were two extracts from Symphoniesno 3 and 5 by Nielsen. Nielsen is being heard more and more now and his symphonic works at least get performed. Anthony contrasted this with extracts from Mahler and in particular his Symphonyno 1 written two decades earlier but sounding from an altogether different age.
A fascinating programme which illustrated well the variety of musical styles which coexisted in just over a decade.
The next meeting is based on the saxophone as an orchestral instrument and is on November 17. If you weren’t at last nights meeting then don’t forget to bring along your favourite piece (lasting less than 10 minutes) for the Members’ evening on December 1st.