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Dan Godfrey Encores / Ronald Corp, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Bournemouth Sym Orch / Corp
Release Date: 01/10/2012 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 7276  
Composer:  Louis Ferdinand HeroldByron BrookePercy WhitlockSmyth, Ethel, Dame,   ... 
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Brilliant with an obvious enthusiasm for these ‘lost’ or misplaced works.

Among the great frustrations of reading Stephen Lloyd’s masterly monograph Sir Dan Godfrey: Champion of British composers (Thames Publishing, 1995) are the listings of music that was played at Bournemouth – music now largely lost to the listener. As a random example, page 81 indicates that the following works were performed during the 1906-07 season: Nicolas Gatty’s Prelude, Ernest Halsey’s Suite de Ballet, Landon Ronald’s Birthday Overture, Richard Walthew’s Three Night Scenes, Arthur Hervey’s Dramatic Overture and a May Festival Overture by Arthur Wight. Two things stand out here; firstly the works
Read more are totally forgotten, but secondly, so are many of the composers.

Dan Godfrey largely created what might be termed the ‘Bournemouth Problem’. His enthusiasm for British music caused him to encourage a massive range of composing talents. His programmes are full of music by up and coming composers, one hit wonders and established talent. Most likely there were a few ‘has beens’ as well. However relatively few pieces ‘stuck’ in the repertoire and I guess most of these ‘novelties’ after a couple of performances have been put to one side and quietly lost. Unfortunately that often included the score and parts as well. Stephen Lloyd’s listings are a fantasy - largely works that will not and perhaps more disturbingly, cannot be recovered.

Dutton Epoch have gone some little way towards addressing the ‘Bournemouth Problem’ in this latest disc of Dan Godfrey Encores. Here is a collection of fine pieces that will entertain, fascinate and occasionally move the listener. It acts as a taster of what has been lost.

This is definitely not a CD to listen to in a half-hearted manner. In spite of the ‘frothy’ nature of some of these ‘encores’ they are all to be savoured and enjoyed. They may not shake the foundations of musical endeavour, but they are all good and worthy of their composers: they demand our interest.

The first work on the CD is not British, but from across the Channel in Paris. I first came across Zampa in a volume of piano reductions of operatic overtures. It has fascinated me ever since. With the opera’s almost Gilbertian plot of a nobleman turned pirate, it is full of good tunes, and exciting orchestral pyrotechnics.

Byron Brooke is represented by Gee Whizz! which is a little cracker, complete with its tricky part for solo xylophone. It must have brought the house down.

Most people will have come across the music of Percy Whitlock, most likely his ‘Folk Tune’ or Toccata from the masterly Plymouth Suite for organ. However Whitlock, who had a long association with Bournemouth, wrote much music in a variety of genres - some of it being decidedly high-quality ‘light’ music including a Bucket and Spade Polka. The present Carillon for Organ is an example of his more thoughtful writing. The music here is involved and although a touch ‘retro’ in its style is internally consistent. In spite of some slightly Delian slippery harmonies it is beholden to no one. This is great music that is reflective, often moving and is well-wrought. It deserves to be welcomed to the repertoire.

Dame Ethel Smyth is probably better known for her opera (and overture) The Wreckers, than for The Boatswain’s Mate which is a one-act piece dating from 1914. This was a comic opera based on a retired boatswain’s attempt to persuade a widowed pub landlady to marry him. The overture is actually quite dark in places – more than the plot would seem to demand. Yet it is well written - let us hope that one day the entire opera is recorded.

Howard Flynn’s Clatter of the Clogs: A Novelty Fox-Trot is quite simply a pure joy to listen to. Would that there were dozens more pieces of music like this!

Sir Landon Ronald is a composer that I would like to know more about. Works entitled A Birthday Overture, Britannia’s Realm and A Winter’s Night all excite interest. The present piece, ‘In an Eastern Garden’ is the second number from the incidental music to the play The Garden of Allah by Robert Hitchens and Mary Anderson. It is a lovely evocation of peace and reflection with the solo violin well to the fore.

Cecil Armstrong Gibbs’ The Betrothal is a little bit of an enigma. It is great music, and deserves to be recorded. However, I cannot for the life of me see what made this a ‘popular’ encore. This is quite serious music that reflects a second rate ‘fairy’ play by Maurice Maeterlinck. It is music to be savoured and in many ways is not typical of the composer as we have come to regard him. Look out for the ravishing waltz theme: it beats Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier! It is great to have this piece included here and suitably divorced from a long-forgotten play where it spent most of its time supporting dialogue. Forget any plot: just enjoy this deliciously romantic music.

Maurice Birch has two calls on this CD – firstly the characteristic Dance of the Nymphs with its ‘will o’ the wisp’ mood created by celesta and strings. The Intermezzo (pizzicato) is one of those pieces that one feels that one knows. Yet I guess I have never heard this before. It is a finely crafted piece that hovers on the cusp between ‘light’ and ‘just a touch serious’.

The Irish composer Ina Boyle was a pupil of Ralph Vaughan Williams and this is reflected in her stunningly beautiful The Magic Harp. This work received a Carnegie Award in 1919 and was taken up by Dan Godfrey. It proudly stands alongside Stanford’s Irish Rhapsodies and Hamilton Harty’s With the Wild Geese, for evoking the mood of the Emerald Isle. This is a magical piece that achieves its success by eschewing the sentimentality of the Moore’s Irish Melodies but manages to create a mood that evokes history, myth and landscape. It is a masterpiece. Let us hope that her Symphonies and Violin Concerto will be forthcoming.

The German Ludwig Pleier Karlsbad’s Doll’s Dance is a lovely piece of whimsy that uses ‘strings played with [goose] quills to give the magical pizzicato effect.

Rutland Boughton is probably best recalled for his important opera, the Celtic fairy play The Immortal Hour. However this was one small part of a massive catalogue of the composer who saw himself as being the English Wagner and forming an English Bayreuth at Glastonbury. The operas typically explored British mythology and included titles such as Avalon and Galahad, The Round Table and The Birth of Arthur. The present piece is the ‘Love Duet’ from Act One of The Immortal Hour arranged by the composer for orchestra. It is a romantic piece that exceeds all expectations. This is beautiful music that is both inspiring and moving. It is good that Dutton Epoch have already recorded the opera The Queen of Cornwall. For people who are not opera buffs the Third Symphony is a great place to begin exploring Rutland Boughton’s music.

The final piece is A Sierra Melody which has been realised by Malcolm Riley. This miniature gives great solo passages to the cellist and trumpet player. Again it is hard to define this as ‘light’ music – it is just totally pleasant and absorbing. A ‘sierra’ is Spanish for a range of mountains - so look out for a touch of Iberian colouring.

This is an excellent CD. Naturally, one would wish it to be Volume 1 of umpteen! The playing by the ‘home’ orchestra and Ronald Corp is brilliant with an obvious enthusiasm for these ‘lost’ or misplaced works. Unsurprisingly, Stephen Lloyd has provided the exceptional and comprehensive liner-notes giving considerable details about the pieces and their composers. And the cover is evocative of a time when most seaside resorts had their resident orchestras. Heigh ho!

-- John France, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Zampa: Overture by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 7/2011 
2.
Gee Whizz! by Byron Brooke
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
3.
Carillon for Organ and Orchestra by Percy Whitlock
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932 
4.
The Boatswain's Mate: Overture by Smyth, Ethel, Dame
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914/1921 
5.
Clatter of the Clogs by Howard Flynn
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
6.
The Garden of Allah: no 2, In an Eastern Garden by Ronald, Landon, Sir
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920 
7.
The Betrothal, Op. 34 by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921 
8.
Dance of the Nymphs by Montague Birch
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1923 
9.
The Magic Harp by Ina Boyle
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919 
10.
Karlsbad'd Doll Dance by Ludwig Pleier
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903 
11.
Immortal Hour: Love Duet by Rutland Boughton
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1924 
12.
Intermezzo by Montague Birch
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 1913 
13.
A Sierra Melody by Cecil White
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931 

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