Nino Rota

nino rota 2
Nino Rota

The last meeting of the Society was a presentation by Robin Lim of the music of Nino Rota.  He was born in 1911 in Milan and showed early musical talent with an oratorio composed when he was 12.  He followed this up with a cello concerto aged 14 and a musical career clearly beckoned.  After early training in Italy he came to the notice of Arturo Toscanini in America who arranged for him to further his training in Philadelphia.  Whether it was the influence of his dominant mother or for other reasons, he did not finish his training there but returned instead to Milan.

Robin played examples of his compositions which included: a Clarinet Sonata; the overture; Il Cappellodi Paglia di Firenze; Concerto Soiree and excerpts from Il Gattopardo.  All the music had strong rhythm and some good melodic interest but perhaps a problem was a lack of a clear ‘voice’ of the composer.  One kept hearing echoes of other composers such as Neilsen, Dvorak and even Bruckner.  Indeed he was criticised by critics for this but of course ‘borrowing’ themes from other composers is not unknown even by the greats.

It was to film music where he found a degree of fame and success.  An early composition was the score for the Glass Mountain and we saw and heard an excerpt from the film.  Others included Juliet of the Spirits; 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita.  Altogether, he wrote some 150 film scores.  But the one which will bring him immortality and the music just about everyone can whistle or hum the main theme to, is the score to the Godfather series.  It was the highest grossing film of all time.  Amazingly, he did not get an Oscar for the score but after an outcry, he did get it for Godfather II but did not attend the ceremony to receive it.   

It was an interesting evening and showed again the difficulty of making the leap from prodigy to an established artist.  There are so many who show early precocity but developing that to become an original composer (or artist or author) can be the hardest thing.

Organ music

David Davies 3 croppedThe last meeting of the Recorded Music Society, which took place on 16 March, was a further break from tradition as there was – and there is no other way to put this – no recorded music.  Instead we had local keyboard player David Davies (photo) play organ pieces and he called his talk Brought down from the attic: rarely heard organ works played live on the piano.

David played a wide range of pieces from composers stretching back to Tallis in the sixteenth century and a piece from the Robertsbridge Codex which is from the fourteenth.  He explained something of the history of the organ noting that the pedal was a late arrival to these shores, in fact not until something like 1840 did any appear.  All organs were destroyed by Cromwell is another interesting fact.

Among the pieces was one of Mozart’s ‘epistle sonatas’ which may have contributed to his dismissal from Salzburg because, famously, it was too long.  Other pieces included Walton’s music for Richard III and an Air by Samuel Wesley who was the first to spot how important the music of Bach was.  A really interesting programme – and we didn’t miss the CDs.

The list of music played:

Anon Organ Estampie in the Robertsbridge Codex: the earliest surviving music written specifically for the keyboard
Tallis Hymn: Iste confessor
Sweelink Toccata in the Aeolian mode
Gibbons Prelude in G
Walton Elegy from music for Richard III
Frescobaldi Gagliarda Terza from the second book of toccatas
Tomkins Voluntary
Locke Voluntary 3 from Melothesia
Pachelbel Fugue in D major
JS Bach Fughettas on Vom Himmel Hoch und Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ
Couperin Kyrie of the Convent Mass
Stanley Voluntary op 7 No. 5
Boyce Voluntary in D
Lidon Sonata para organo con trompeta real
Mozart Epistle Sonata 15
Beethoven Prelude through all the twelve keys op 39
Wesley, S Air and Gavotte
Brahms Chorale prelude on Es ist ein’ Ros entsprugen
Elgar Vesper Voluntary 5
Ferguson  Kellow Pye Variations and Scherzo

Meeting

The last meeting of the Society was on Monday, March 2nd.  We were pleased to welcome a speaker from EM Records, based locally at Blandford Forum, which is the recording arm of the English Music Festival and fulfils the EMF’s aims of celebrating and preserving overlooked works by British composers throughout the centuries.  It has a strong focus on the early twentieth century: the Golden Renaissance of English music. EM Records resolves to bring this glorious music to a world-wide audience. In keeping with the unique spirit of the Festival, each disc released by EM Records will contain at least one World Première recording. 

As well as learning some of what is involved in preparing, recording and producing CDs of the highest quality, we also gained an insight into the issues raised when unearthing and interpreting previously unpublished manuscripts.  Recordings of better known English composers like Vaughan Williams, Holst and Stanford were interspersed with some lovely recordings of works by lesser known lights such as David Owen Morris and Henry Walford Davies, the latter being the composer of the instantly recognisable RAF March past.

This is the second time the Society has gone behind the scenes, so to speak, and heard about the process of recording a CD.

See also English Music Festival

Telemann

Telemann was a prolific composer and probably composed more music than any other – over three thousand works are known including 1043 cantatas.  He was a contemporary of JS Bach and to Handel and was probably better known than either in his lifetime.   However, he is less well known now and the fame of his contemporaries has eclipsed him.  There is much to admire and the Society’s presentation by Angus Menzies on 16 February introduced us to the range of his output.

Telemann
Telemann

George Philipp Telemann was born in 1681 at Magdebourg in Germany and was clearly a child prodigy being able to play four instruments by the age of 10.  His parents wanted him to go into the church and he did indeed start studies in this direction but gave them up after a year.  He studied at Leipzig and at 21 became the musical director of the opera there.  There were subsequent appointments in Zary, Frankfurt and finally in Hamburg.  His first wife died young and his second left him for a Swedish nobleman.

Angus played a range of music from some of his earliest compositions up until his death in Hamburg.  Pieces included Concerto in G major for recorder; oboe and violin; Overture in D major from Jubeloratorium; a scene from Orpheus, and the curious Volker overture Turcs; Suisses and Muscovites.  He wrote nine operas.

telemann scoreHe titled his talk: Geese, frogs and old pepper sacks.  The frogs referred to sounds included in one of his early works – a violin concerto; the opera house was once in the goose market (much like Covent Garden used to be adjacent to the market) and pepper sacks was how prosperous members of the Academy were referred no doubt because of their girth.

It was interesting hearing echoes of Handel in some of the pieces with whom he exchanged bulbs as they were both keen on this activity.  Handel borrowed much from Telemann.  Telemann was godfather to CPE Bach.

He was ‘an amazing, varied and fascinating composer’ Angus said.  Although far from unknown he has been overshadowed certainly by Bach and to an extent Handel but nevertheless, he composed much that can be admired.  Part of the entry in Groves says: Telemann’s music is easily recognisable as his own, with its clear periodic structure, its clarity and ready fluencyThough four years senior to Bach and Handel, he used an idiom more forward looking than theirs and in several genres can be seen as a forerunner of the Classical style.

An enjoyable evening and we were pleased to welcome some more new members.

New Season gets underway

Frida cropped
Frida Backman

The Society’s new season got off to a flying start on Monday night with a presentation by Frida Backman of the Backman Trio.  The substance of her talk was the making of a music CD which rather underplays what might have been a rather workmanlike presentation.  However, it was much more than that.  Frida had uncovered a previously unpublished work by Sibelius no less, which they had managed to piece together and perform as part of their first CD.

Frida won’t be unknown to local music lovers and only last Friday, she performed with Salisbury based pianist Lynda Smith in Sarum College as part of their lunch time series of concerts.  The Trio was founded in 2009 in London by British pianist Marcus Andrews, Finnish violinist Freda Backman and British cellist, Ruth Beedham.  In 2014 they returned to Finland and performed at the Aino Atke festival in Helsinki as part of the CD launch.  With financial support from the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, the group was able to resurrect the composer Eric Bergman’s piano Trio No 2 of which we heard an extract.  Bergman (1911 – 2006) is another of those composers of whom little is heard today but he has a large repertoire of work.

Backman Trio
Backman Trio

Frida went through the lengthy process of making a CD and included a discussion of the differences between a live and studio performance. With the former of course, there is only one chance and the tension is high to get it right.  A studio performance on the other hand involves many hours of takes and retakes and keeping the performance fresh can be difficult to achieve.  Unless one is lucky to have a recording contract, there are the costs to consider and then how to launch and promote the finished thing.

The evening ended with a performance of a previously unknown work by Sibelius – Fantasia, performed by the group.  It was remarkably accessible and the recording was – in the opinion of the writer – clear, well balanced and bright.  It is available from the Collectors Room in Salisbury UK.

A most enjoyable and informative evening.

A decade of genius

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.

Janacek
Janacek

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 Symphonies no 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 Symphony no 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.

Salisbury Journal piece: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/community_news/11597552.Salisbury_Recorded_Music_Society/


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.

Mozart and his paper

Mozart
Mozart

Although the first two programmes this season have concentrated on more modern composers, Peter Curbishley took us back at the Society’s meeting on 20 October, to the 18th century with an erudite presentation cryptically named ‘Mozart and his Paper.’  It was based largely on the work of the late Alan Tyson.  Although Mozart’s music is so well known there are still mysteries concerning his compositions that need to be explored.

We learned that at the time Mozart was composing, paper was so expensive that musicians were often unable to acquire more than limited supplies.  It was still a craft based industry unchanged for 600 years.  Samples varied widely and it is from the watermark of the paper that we know where an individual piece was written.  This often provided insights into Mozart’s compositional process and showed that some compositions took time, often several years, before reaching fruition.  The Hunt Quartet for example may have taken four years.

Other mysteries were then exposed.  The Horn Concerto in D presents an enigma: did Mozart write the rondo or not?  Although the greater part of the manuscript was found in Krakow, the rondo turned up later in St Petersburg, but in a different handwriting.

We heard an excerpt from the Paris Symphony and  although this is the only Mozart symphony which survives from this time, there is a letter written to his father that mentions a second symphony, although there is no trace of it.  There are two versions of the slow movement however and paper studies have revealed which was the final version.

The Piano Concerti provide further surprises he said.  On examination of the manuscripts it appears that the first movement is often in a different handwriting from subsequent movements and on different paper.  It now seems possible that Mozart would, from time to time, write a first movement and then await an opportunity – a commission perhaps – to write the remaining movements.

A popular and celebrated great composer, yes, but one who is full of surprises.

New season gets underway

The first evening of the new programme started on Monday with Michael Salmon asking ‘is this another English

Vaughan Williams
Vaughan Williams

renaissance?’  After the deaths of Elgar, Vaughan-Williams, Delius and Britten, new British music has often appeared to lack direction and to a certain extent quality.  However, since 1950, there has been a significant change and Michael will be looking at a group of modern British composers whose music, although always intensely lyrical, appears, in many cases to follow the 19th century French School with its harmony, impressionism and minimalism.

Note this was a change to the published programme.

A review will appear here shortly.

New season’s programme

The Society launched its new season’s programme this week and hard copies are available in the Tourist Information Office; the Collector’s Room; Oxfam upstairs; and the Library all in Salisbury. Joint chair of the society, Ed Tinline said ‘we have an exciting mix of presentations this year which includes film music, English music, Mozart, Shostakovich and Telemann – something for all tastes.’

The first session is on 22 September at 7:30.

Details of where we meet are on this site.

Programme 2014/15

New site

This is the site for the Salisbury Recorded Music Society. Welcome. You’ll find more about us in the ‘About’ tab at the top of the site. To see where we meet, look in the ‘Find us’ tab. We’ll be publishing more material here as time goes on but we have just held our last meeting of the season so it will be quiet for a while.

We are affiliated to the Federation of Music Societies.