Monthly Archives: April 2011

LPs batch 26: sticking points

I actually recorded these LPs some months ago, but am behind with writing them up. This batch began with a Hungaroton transfer of Beethoven violin sonatas performed by Dénes Kovacs and Mihaly Bächer. Some of the other discs in the batch proved to be problematic. Solti and the VPO doing Schubert’s ‘Great’ C major symphony had to be re-recorded after it had some peculiar crackles on it. Another recording of the same symphony by Haitink and the Concertgebouw fared rather better. Two other discs in the batch stuck: firstly, Winchester Cathedral Choir singing Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary and some assorted other baroque anthems (including several real favourites of mine). Croft’s Funeral Sentences proved to be impossible to rescue, but fortunately the rest of the recording could be transferred, although it’s pretty crackly because I played it a lot. Dvořák’s 7th symphony (with Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic) also stuck until recorded on a different setting.

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I was glad

The Chandos Singers’ latest concert consisted of settings of Psalm 122, plus a parody Mass, by various composers (but not Parry). It was the first time I’d performed in the Magdalen Chapel on Holloway, a small venue but acoustically pleasant. Future audiences might care to know that if it is still light and the weather is good, they can enjoy one of the best of all views over Bath while they sip their interval drink.

The first half began with plainchant and then consisted of Victoria’s three-choir mass Laetatus sum and the motet on which it is based. I once sang another three-choir Mass setting by Victoria, his Missa pro Victoria, but this one was melodically more interesting.

After the interval came settings by other composers, beginning with my favourite Howells anthem, O pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The other highlight for me was Purcell’s I was glad, a piece that really requires you to listen hard to the rest of the choir. Much of the rest was new to me: along with Blow, Tallis and Boyce there were settings by Alessandro Scarlatti and those Chandos favourites Michna and Gorzynski.

Is there a ‘curse of Chandos’? Our previous home at Holy Trinity Church has recently closed, and the company which runs our next performance venue, the Royal Crescent Hotel, has just gone into administration. (Sadly, I think it’s just that so many things are closing in the downturn that your chances of being involved with one or more are high.)

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I get to hear Eternal Light

This piece by Howard Goodall seems to be flavour of the month right now. It received two performances on the south side of Lansdown Hill within four weeks, the second being by CanZona. It formed the second part of a concert which had a mixed bag of Byrd, Elgar and Walton in the first half (including Let all the world by Walton which I didn’t know). Eternal Light is itself a bit of a mixed bag, including a variety of styles. I’d probably enjoy singing it if I didn’t have to devote too much rehearsal time to it. CanZona benefited from my having declined to hear the other performance of the piece, as had I gone to that I probably wouldn’t have wanted to hear another so soon afterwards.

Meanwhile others in the family went to Welsh National Opera’s Il trovatore in Bristol, which they enjoyed. I myself saw this production on a previous outing. They were particularly impressed by David Soar in the role of Ferrando, though the four principals were all satisfactory.

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Bath loses a music shop

Duck Son and Pinker closed abruptly today. I was an occasional customer for sheet music and CDs, although it was never my first choice for CDs and I sometimes found the staff didn’t know their way round the sheet music stock (though this hasn’t happened recently).

There is another instrument shop in Bath, so we can still cope if the mouthpiece gets stuck in my son’s trumpet again. I realise that CD sales face stiff competition from the internet, but surely a place the size of Bath and with this city’s musical culture could support a sheet music shop? Or are sheet music sales subsidised in practice by sales of CDs? (And now I think of it, Manchester city centre lost one of its two sheet music shops in the mid-1990′s.)

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