web-archive-uk.com


Web directory, archive
Search web-archive-uk.com:


Find domain in archive system:
web-archive-uk.com » UK » C » CHRISTOPHER-GUNNING.CO.UK

Total: 117

Choose link from "Titles, links and description words view":

Or switch to "Titles and links view".
  • Concert Reviews » Christopher Gunning
    Tippett fanfare performed with appropriate gusto by the LSO s brass and percussion managed to outstay its welcome even in its brief 5 minutes but if it s hardly top drawer stuff the Concerto for Double String Orchestra most certainly is Its sprightly jazz influenced rhythms knocked players aback in the 1940 s and it took a recording by the young Benjamin Britten for concert promoters and audiences to wake up to the fact that this is a highly original brilliantly constructed and wonderfully attractive piece But this is not simply easy listening music In 1939 Britain was about to be plunged into WW2 and it shows in the uneasy counterpoint between opposing forces as well as the deeply expressive music in the central slow movement Many of Tippett s hallmarks are to be found here the counterpoint stems from Baroque influences the forms hark back to Beethoven and of course those bluesy jazzy melodic inflections which help give much of Tippett s music its very personal flavour are present too That middle movement is particularly beautiful and here Tippett s love of folksong plays a role If both Tippett and Britten were to react against the nostalgia of Vaughan Williams s view of folk material and find new ways of doing things they both shared the senior master s love of it In 2013 players no longer find any difficulty in tackling Tippett s cross rhythms as was demonstrated by the strings of the LSO under Harding The outer movements were lively and pointed and the middle movement simply beautiful with calmly expressive solos from Carmine Lauri the leader and Rebecca Gilliver cello Overall I loved the unforced way in which the piece was interpreted by the soloists and ensemble as a whole Britten was working on Les Illuminations at the same time as Tippett on his Double Concerto and juxtaposing the two works demonstrated some of the radically different ways in which the two composers thought as well as some similarities Britten would always be the more natural of the two composing at a rate of knots and producing works with a flair for melody texture colour and a genius for working in relatively small scale forms which nevertheless pack a powerful emotional punch No doubt some of the turbulence of the settings is attributable to the imminent war Britten like Tippett was to become a conscientious objector and sought temporary refuge in the US and how destabilising the times must have been to the young composer The nine main sections which make up Les Illuminations are settings of poems by Arthur Rimbaud whose hallucinatory way of looking at things greatly appealed to Britten The string writing is astonishingly fluent and varied for a composer in his mid twenties and the word setting already shows Britten in command of techniques which would see him through to the end of his life even if he would always be happiest when setting the English language How lucky we were to have the opportunity of hearing the remarkable Ian Bostridge let loose on this early and appealing work Clear diction perfect intonation a vocal quality which simply melts your heart but is strong enough to carry to the farthest reaches of the Albert Hall what more could you possibly want One almost felt Bostridge to be a perfect synthesis of Rimbaud and Britten as he swooped and dived yet gave us sensual cantabile lines when needed I felt this to be a quite outstanding performance with Harding and the LSO s strings doing everything just perfectly And yes of course we thought of Colin Davis and all our other departed friends in the final Départ So moving And so to the major work of the evening and Elgar s 2 nd Symphony has never enjoyed the popularity of his 1 st One reason is pretty obvious it doesn t have a main theme of the sort that opens and closes the 1 st Also it doesn t end triumphantly and people were expecting that sort of thing from Elgar No this is the work of an older man perhaps even by now if not disillusioned then chastened and far more experienced and undoubtedly worried by the political situation that would shortly lead to WW1 The second movement is among Elgar s most heartfelt creations but throughout this long important work there are contrasts and conundrums These sometimes rapid changes of mood are important in a performance judging the constant ebbing and flowing becomes the crucial task of the conductor It is the success or failure of this which makes performances stand out Several on record have got it right One may cite Boult Andrew Davis Barbirolli Handley and of course Sir Colin Davis who performed the work memorably with the LSO relatively recently in 2010 Daniel Harding did well tonight very well His was a reading with plenty of vitality but sensitivity too with tempi generally slower than the composer s own This may have had a slightly dislocating effect in the first movement which I must confess to being my least favourite of the symphony anyway but elsewhere I found myself much in sympathy with his reading The slow movement was frequently exquisite the 3rd romped along brilliantly and the strange mysterious last movement flowed as it should and the all important ending was beautifully quiet and uneasy What a shame some clot in the audience felt it necessary to jump in with applause long long before Harding had lowered his baton The silence which Harding obviously sought and should follow music of this intensity and meaning was rudely destroyed I thought the LSO played magnificently We all know this is a splendid orchestra with fine principals but nevertheless performances can vary from excellent to stunning Tonight it was stunning They love playing for Harding as well they should Christopher Gunning Share on Tumblr August 21 2013 The RPO impresses with superb performances of Stravinsky Penderecki Debussy and Ravel PROM 44 15 h August 2013 Royal Albert Hall London Stravinsky Penderecki Debussy Ravel Arto Noras cello Leonard Elschenbroich cello Daniel Muller Schott cello Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Charles Dutoit conductor Stravinski Fireworks 1908 revised 1909 Krzysztof Penderecki Concerto Grosso 2000 2001 Debussy La Mer 1903 5 Ravel Daphnis et Chloé 1909 12 Suite no 2 The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays but one Prom every year and this time it was their artistic director and principal conductor who led the proceedings Charles Dutoit s association with the orchestra goes back some fifty years He is much loved by the players and one could expect extra special results as you will see we were not disappointed Stravinsky s early work was much influenced by his teacher Rimsky Korsakov and in 1908 when the younger composer finished the first score of Fireworks he sent it to his master for approval However it was returned unopened because Rimsky Korsakov had died I am sure he would have approved of it with its dazzling orchestration and abundant wit and nowadays its interest is in its foretastes of The Firebird Petrouchka and Le Chant du Rossignol among other significant early works If the performance tonight felt a little hesitant at first it soon gathered momentum during its brief four minutes and by the end we had glimpses of the virtuosity this orchestra is certainly capable of There was now an irritatingly long break in the programme while the violins trooped off and the stage was rearranged to accommodate the three solo cellists featured in the next work Mostly elegiac was an overheard comment from a member of the audience talking about Penderecki s Concerto Grosso It s a long time since the composer was dubbed an enfant terrible of the avant garde with his Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima Penderecki s style has undergone changes and frequently embraces tonality influences as diverse as Bruckner Shostakovich Brahms and Liszt have been absorbed and the result is his own fusion of 19 th and 20 th Century idioms The Concerto Grosso sets the three cellos against a normal symphony orchestra but the composer wisely uses the orchestra for the most part rather sparingly Each of the three soloists has his own opportunities to rise above the orchestral textures the individual lines being often highly expressive At the outset each cellist plays his own solo and it is only after this that all three play together A similar process is repeated towards the end The piece subdivides into six sections played without a break and it s not all slow even if the mostly elegiac impression is what one is left with There are energetic dance like sections but there is an inevitability about the way their energy dissipates into thoughtful lyricism once more Dutoit has championed this work performing it far and wide and clearly has the measure of it Likewise the soloists were all terrific all three expressing the music with intense passion and commitment The sounds are frequently beautiful but I did feel there could have been a greater variety of texture overall Nevertheless it seemed a faultless performance As chance would have it I was in Eastbourne a couple of days ago where ensconced with his pregnant mistress soon to become his wife in the Grand Hotel Debussy completed La Mer Plenty of sea images were scudding through my mind therefore as the RPO feasted on this iconic impressionist masterpiece Dutoit is never more at home than in this French music his recordings with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal quickly became favourites in the 90 s and are still reckoned to be among the best Tonight he led the RPO through a performance in which every nuance was savoured but never at the expense of the narrative flow Dutoit is particularly alert to the dramatic qualities of the score with constantly flexible tempi and gorgeously detailed colours We heard the most superb pianissimos from the strings sublimely sensitive solos from the woodwind and bursts of ferocity and majesty when needed from the brass and percussion I loved the way momentum was built up in the second movement where one could not help seeing and hearing the waves pounding along and the wind in your face And in the third movement things were as stormy as you could possibly want There may be other more measured and refined ways of doing La Mer but I defy anyone to bring off a more vivid and altogether salty performance for me it was almost like hearing the piece for the first time and I ll not forget the experience in a hurry I can t help feeling a trifle short changed when Ravel s Daphnis et Chloé is performed without the choir Also I love much of music in part one of the ballet too but had to be content with the 2 nd Suite tonight which Ravel himself prepared Fortunately Dutoit s reading had all the same qualities he had brought to La Mer The opening Daybreak scene was beautifully atmospheric with Dutoit emphasising the bird calls perhaps a little more strongly than usual The long melodies were perfectly judged in the strings and the whole section had just enough momentum to avoid sentimentality Glorious Moving on I delighted in John Anderson s oboe solos and then it was the turn of Emer McDonough to enchant us with her ravishing flute solo The final Danse General was taken at a fast lick but it didn t feel rushed until perhaps the very end It was superbly exciting with tremendous rhythmic verve and all in all this was a terrific performance and a fitting end to an unforgettable concert The members of the RPO had played their socks off it goes without saying that each department is of virtuoso standard but what impresses most of all is the way in which the various sections work together to produce wonderfully blended sounds On this showing and with this conductor it must be the match of any orchestra in the world Christopher Gunning Share on Tumblr August 16 2013 Jonathan Harvey s Weltethos reaches London Jonathan Harvey Samuel West speaker CBSO Chorus London Voices CBSO Youth Chorus CBSO Children s Chorus City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Michael Seal conductor Edward Gardner conductor Royal Festival Hall London 7 10 2012 CG Jonathan Harvey Weltethos Humanity Confucianism Golden Rule Judaism Non violence Hinduism Justice Islam Truth Buddhism Partnership Christianity Weltethos was first performed in October 2011 by Sir Simon Rattle and Simon Halsey conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and has already been performed by tonight s forces in Symphony Hall Birmingham as part of the opening of the 2012 Olympics That performance was fully reported by my colleague John Quinn on June 23 rd 2012 and there is thus no need for a detailed explanation of the background to the work here You can read John s review here http www seenandheard international com 2012 06 23 weltethos far from festival fare In brief Weltethos sets a text by the theologian Hans Küng which seeks to draw together the common threads of the major religions the central theme being that they have far more in common than not There are six sections each roughly 15 minutes in length and the work thus plays for nearly 90 minutes This makes it Harvey s most ambitious work to date Given Harvey s keenness for mystical and religious subjects it is not difficult to see that the subject matter would appeal to him And the result is a work which is frequently inspired and periodically extraordinarily beautiful The forces are large and include eight percussionists spread out behind the orchestra with just about every instrument imaginable For the most part Harvey uses his orchestra sensitively and colouristically although there are passages of considerable force in the music too Harvey s ear is acute and there are constantly well judged textures and effects to marvel at The orchestral influences are many and varied Western contemporary music of course mingled with sounds reminiscent of the Middle and Far East but electronics present in many of Harvey s works are absent Nevertheless some electronic thinking spills over in his use of eerie clusters and the way he uses the organ The choral writing is impressive The choir is called upon not only to sing but to whisper shout and produce other non standard sounds and the children s choir completes each of the six sections except the last the idea being that the children represent the future while the main choir represents the present and past But there are problems It was explained before the concert that there was no printed text as such but a précis of the main ideas This was because Harvey has dismembered the words often breaking them down into syllables Consequently it was quite impossible to hear words sung by the chorus and this had a distancing effect for me The texts given to Samuel West to speak were of course plainly audible and superbly delivered but quite desperately pedantic And the texts given to the children are also decidedly wooden Children have a future if we give up hatred and violence Really You don t say In the end the pretentiousness of the fundamental idea proved too much to take which is a dreadful shame because so much of the music is masterly On one level why do we fight when all religions have so much in common has obvious appeal and on another it is merely a superficial statement of breathtaking naivety Leaving all that aside I would happily sit through another performance simply to revel in the orchestral and choral ideas the clever use of a single note repeated quaver pattern starting on a single oboe and migrating around the orchestra the sudden explosion of the choir in the 2 nd movement the Messaien like textures of the third movement with it s big orchestral climax and moans from the choir the multiple glissandi in the 4 th movement the soft organ clusters in the 5 th and the almighty climax in the 6 th dissonant yet glorious The performance was terrific from choirs and orchestra I don t suppose anyone could fault a thing And make no mistake this is a difficult work to perform it s complex stuff demanding enormous precision from all concerned The principal conductor Edward Gardner the sub conductor Michael Seal and Simon Halsey who trained the choirs are to be warmly congratulated together with the marvellous CBSO and the fabulous choirs Christopher Gunning Share on Tumblr October 8 2012 Jurowski in a fascinating all Russian evening with the London Philharmonic Shchedrin Miaskovsky Denisov Rachmaninov Tatiana Monogarova soprano Sergei Skorokhodov tenor Vladimir Chernov baritone London Philharmonic Choir London Symphony Chorus Vladimir Jurowski conductor Royal Festival Hall London 29 9 2012 CG Rodion Shchedrin Concerto for Orchestra No 2 The Chimes UK premiere Miaskovsky Silentium Op 9 1911 UK premiere Edison Denisov Bells in the Fog 1988 UK premiere Rachmaninov The Bells Choral Symphony Op 35 1912 13 What a fascinating programme four very different Russian works including three UK premieres performed by a Russian conductor and three Russian soloists Jurowski is a refreshingly no nonsense conductor He cuts a dashing figure as he bounds onto the platform with a shock of long black hair turns to the orchestra and guides his forces clearly in a thoroughly musicianly way There s a lot of sensitivity with no histrionics The rapport between him and performers is evident from the word go what you get is concentrated music making of a high order The name Rodion Shchedrin is apt to arouse mixed reactions but to many he is the leading composer of his post Shostakovich generation The Concerto for Orchestra no 2 The Chimes made an impressive concert opener I suppose you could describe it as an effects piece It is certainly vivid and colourful commencing with quiet string dissonances and then continuing with brash clusters from the brass woodwind chatters some virtuoso timpani passages and of course prominent use of chimes Later in the piece there is some very flamboyant brass writing superbly played by the LPO s brass and there s a fair amount of energy and excitement in the faster orchestral passages too It is often sinister and even scary but the gunshot with which the work ends didn t come off I did feel the piece outstayed its welcome eventually but if it frequently felt influenced by Polish composers Penderecki and Lutoslawski it isn t to say it doesn t have its own special character I personally would have welcomed some stronger material though Nikolai Yakovlevich Miaskovski 1881 1950 taught Shchedrin as well as Kabalevsky and Khatchaturian The composer of twenty seven symphonies and numerous chamber works he was thought of as one of the three most important composers in the Soviet Union alongside Prokofiev and Shostakovich After a period of neglect at least in the West his music is being revived Silentium is an early work and is based on Silence a Fable by Edgar Allan Poe and follows the text quite closely throughout it is predominantly dark and brooding and stylistically owes far more to the nineteenth century than looking forward to the twentieth Unfortunately brevity may not have been one of Miaskovski s stronger qualities and I found the unremittingly doomy textures a little hard to take for nearly twenty five minutes However this reviewer was fascinated to hear a quote repeated several times from his own Poirot theme emerging in one or two spots how very clever of Miaskovski to have hit on the same rising note pattern Notwithstanding that I could once again have done with some stronger thematic material overall although Jurowski and the LPO did everything in their power to bring the work to life Edison Denisov s Bells in the Fog was also too long for its own good The title explains everything really bells this time mostly tinkly bells mostly from the vibraphone celesta glockenspiel and tubular bells interspersed with high clusters from the strings and woodwind Similar textures and patterns pervade the piece through nearly all of its sixteen minutes except for some loud interruptions later on What to say about it I would have been happy with four or five minutes but please not sixteen The best was yet to come The Bells Op 35 came after the first and second symphonies of Rachmaninov but before the third It was his favourite work is in four movements and is composed for a large orchestra choir and three soloists soprano tenor and baritone We are back in Edgar Allan Poe territory here the text being The Bells translated into Russian by Konstantin Balmont a Russian poet Rachmaninov was staying in a flat that had belonged to Tchaikovsky when he wrote this wonderful music and some of his predecessor s influence seems to have rubbed off Its emotions are strong ranging from the angst ridden to the sublime you have to be a pretty miserable specimen not to be moved by it When reviewing this same work once before I said his use of the orchestra is brilliantly virtuosic alive with brilliantly vivid colours and always sure footed Rachmaninov s extraordinary harmonic sense is here in abundance glowingly chromatic yet always with a firm sense of direction There s no need to modify my view except to add that tonight it was the choral writing which also needed special mention I loved every moment of this Jurowski did too His was a studied approach obviously well rehearsed with detailed loving care apparent throughout The soloists were terrific Sergei Skorokhodov tenor in the first movement Sleigh bells Tatiana Monogarova soprano in the second Wedding Bells and Vladimir Chernov baritone in the fourth movement Funeral Bells Monogarova in particular was simply spellbinding with her expressive lines soaring above choir and orchestra You could almost forgive those members of the audience who clapped after her movement but not quite the spell was almost broken The London Philharmonic Choir and London Symphony Chorus sang their hearts out too I can t imagine better And throughout the orchestral playing was just marvellous if I single out Sue Bohling for her lovely Cor Anglais solo in the last movement it doesn t mean that all the other solos weren t played with the same degree of musicality and expression It s the very end of The Bells which particularly gets to me the final modulation into the major is surely one of the great moments in all music It would have been so easy for Rachmaninov to end on a dark note but as the poem speaks of the stillness beyond the grave we are at peace perfect peace Beautiful absolutely beautiful Christopher Gunning Share on Tumblr September 30 2012 The LSO launches its 2012 13 London season with Szymanowski and Brahms Szymanowski Brahms Janine Jansen violin the London Symphony Orchestra Valery Gergiev conductor The Barbican Hall London 22 09 2012 CG Szymanowski Symphony no 1 in F minor Op 15 1906 7 Szymanowski Violin Concerto no 1 Op 35 1916 Brahms Symphony no 1 in C minor Op 68 1876 For its 2012 13 season the London Symphony Orchestra under its principal conductor Valery Gergiev is embarking on programmes of Karol Szymanowski s symphonies and other works coupled with Brahms This will be of tremendous interest to followers of Symanowski s much neglected music the composer has never been widely acknowledged as a major figure and remains chiefly known for his two violin concertos the first of which we were to hear this evening The symphonies are rarer creatures and it is plainly rather difficult to approach the first having already learned that the composer himself disliked it and never finished it The twenty four year old composer was desperately trying to develop his own technique in terms especially of counterpoint and had become particularly interested in the music of Max Reger the result was not exactly successful and Szymanowski withdrew it after only one performance in 1909 Only two movements remain each is fiercely chromatic harmonically heavily orchestrated often bombastic intense or even plain ugly My friend described the experience of listening to it as trapped in a washing machine there s certainly an awful lot of churning True there are some passages reminiscent of say Scriabin and the post Wagnerian harmony points towards later more successful works but by and large this is a piece well worth forgetting except as a curiosity I m not sure if Gergiev and the LSO s rugged forceful performance of it did it too many favours but they can hardly be blamed for the dense orchestration plodding rhythms forgettable material and confused argument Symanowski s description of it as a contrapuntal harmonic orchestral monster was thus not wide of the mark What a relief then to hear Janine Jensen tackle the 1 st Violin Concerto Composed ten years later Szymanowski had developed a far surer technique and the concerto has many episodes of great beauty with plenty of opportunities for the soloist to weave and soar above the orchestra I could not fault Janine Jansen s wonderfully sensitive interpretation of the solo part which isn t necessarily easy to get right It is predominantly lyrical and frequently passionate and of critical importance are genuinely flexible tempi fortunately the collaboration of Jensen and Gergiev seemed well nigh perfect Only very occasionally did the richly colourful and rather full orchestration threaten to drown the soloist and the LSO s contributions were always supremely musical and enjoyable A performance of this calibre almost disguises the fact that a good deal of this exotic mystical music is rather too improvisatory in character with its frequent reminders of major figures such as Scriabin Debussy or early Stravinsky The long and lovely cadenza towards the end of the work which was composed by Szymanowski s friend Pawel Kochanski was beautifully done For part two of the concert the territory was altogether different with the first Symphony of Brahms I had wondered how Gergiev might tackle this in the event it was a mostly rather strident reading not short of volume in the over warm Barbican environment At the outset the violins were virtually drowned by some enthusiastic timpani playing and while you could say the strength of the reading of the first movement overall was a full bodied red bloodedness I did miss some subtlety in the quieter sections There was some fine woodwind horn and solo violin playing in the second movement and some strongly intense romantic work from the strings but the earlier worries about things being somehow too forceful remained The third movement was too fast for my taste becoming positively hectic in the trio section but the final movement played without a break had just the right amounts of grandeur and expression with the closing section becoming terrifically stirring A slightly patchy start to the season then and it will be fascinating to see how things develop later on Christopher Gunning Share on Tumblr September 23 2012 PROM 61 Hymnus Paradisi and Elgar s 1st Symphony an emotional evening at the Proms Howells and Elgar Miah Persson soprano Andrew Kennedy tenor BBC Symphony Chorus London Philharmonic Choir BBC Symphony Orchestra Martyn Brabbins conductor Royal Albert Hall London 29 8 2012 CG Herbert Howells Hymnus Paradisi 1936 8 revised 1950 Sir Edward Elgar Symphony no 1 in Ab major Op 55 1907 8 Has any father loved his son more than Herbert Howells Michael Kendrick Howells died of polio in 1935 at the age of nine leaving the composer distraught It is the sort of devastating experience every parent fears but occurs all too often I personally now know three families who have had to deal with it and the chances are dear reader that you will also know of similar tragedies How did Howells cope This was a man who had previously led a relatively quiet comfortable life teaching at the Royal College of Music a position he held until 1979 adjudicating at music festivals and occasionally composing But from now on his life would be largely dedicated to the memory of his beloved son and it was to be through music that he would express his sorrow and attempt some degree of resolution In the year after Michael s death Howells found it virtually impossible to compose at all although he did produce a small unaccompanied Requiem in 1936 It was apparently his daughter Ursula who suggested that he might find some way of channeling his grief into music and he embarked on tentative sketches for a large scale work with texts drawn from the Psalms the Latin Mass the burial service and the Salisbury Diurnal Holy is the True Light A further spur occurred in 1937 when the composer poet and great friend of Howells died in a mental home In 1938 the work was mostly completed but Howells felt it so personal that he would not show it to anyone for another ten years Eventually he revealed all to Dr Herbert Sumsion the organist at Gloucester Cathedral who in turn showed it to Gerald Finzi The next cog in the wheel was none other than Vaughan Williams who arranged for a performance at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester in 1950 and it was immediately successful The work has been extensively performed and recorded since while perhaps never quite making it into the absolute topmost echelons of choral and orchestral music as is demonstrated by the fact that tonight in 2012 it received its very first performance at a Promenade concert It is yet another demonstration of how many great British works have continued to be ignored by the BBC planners The title Hymnus Paradisi was apparently suggested by Sumsion and how appropriate it is This almost unbearably emotional music searches for paradise and even finds it in several passages of ecstatic joy and beauty but of course there cannot be complete resolution not with a subject such as this Howells composed his major work in an idiom that could be described as less modal than Vaughan Williams and less chromatic than Delius but nonetheless distinctively English Unsurprisingly for a professor of composition and music theory it is beautifully formed and imaginatively orchestrated with parts for the soprano and tenor soloists and the choir expertly and sympathetically written This should not suggest that it is in any way stuffy or academic far from it The work glows with inspiration from start to finish and if I say I had tears welling up throughout tonight s performance perhaps you ll understand what I mean There s a quiet confidence in the way the music speaks for much of the time which is not to say that it doesn t erupt with rhythmic fire periodically particularly in the Sanctus where it s almost as if the Walton of Belshazzar strides in But it is the weaving of the soloist s contributions with the choir that lingers having led us along a journey to eternity where souls meet in a halo of holy light Tonight we were allowed to appreciate the depth of the music in an unhurried unfussy performance which got right to the heart of the piece the work of the soloists was impressively sincere and well projected without being forced and the huge dynamic range of the choir was simply astonishing breathtakingly quiet and overwhelmingly radiant by turns Howells probably imagined the work being performed in cathedrals but the Albert Hall turned out to be perhaps an even better venue He didn t want it to sound churchy and the strange acoustics of the hall seemed to suit it ideally the reverberation time depending on where you sit is not as long as Gloucester or Worcester cathedrals where the choral sound can be muddled and confused tonight it was colossally impressive but clear But and it s a small point this is there something not quite right with the organ The low pedal notes were accompanied by a strange rattling noise which suggested a defective pipe or something shaking in sympathy with the vibrations It was mildly disconcerting Martyn Brabbins who very much impressed with his performance of Havergal Brian s Gothic Symphony last year was equally at home with this I very much warm to his no nonsense style of conducting which is always crystal clear and I admire his sense of tempo everything seemed to flow just perfectly Throughout the concert I found myself thinking of another British conductor well known for championing the two works tonight Vernon Tod Handley He loved the Howells partly because he suffered the loss of a child himself and he loved Elgar s First Symphony which I saw him conduct on two occasions I also have his recording and it s one I tend to compare others by I suppose you could say that Handley followed in Boult s footsteps in his Elgar and Boult in Elgar s own Not all conductors fare so well Held up by Karl Richter as the greatest symphony by a modern composer in 1908 this vast and splendid work needs rigorous control of tempo and mood to come off In lesser hands it can ramble although the construction is so continually ingenious that it certainly should not Extraordinary isn t it to think that at the first London performance the composer had to be brought on stage to receive the applause after the first movement again after the second and third and that the hall went completely barmy when it was all over See There was a time when contemporary composers were hugely popular The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Brabbins acquitted themselves very well indeed and I don t mean that to sound like feint praise The BBC SO is on top form and the performance was packed with conviction quietly confident at the start grand and noble for the return of the motto theme at the end startlingly bright and rhythmically exciting in the scherzo but beautifully hushed in the slow movement And all through I was convinced by Elgar s symphonic argument immensely detailed orchestration and by the sheer beauty of the slower sections I don t know if this was the ultimate performance but it was totally convincing and thoroughly enjoyable and I came away feeling I d been at one of the best Proms of the season Christopher Gunning Share on Tumblr August 30 2012 ROM 54 An offering for the Queen idyllic Delius and shattering Shostakovich Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Symphony No 9 for Orchestra and Brass Sextet 2011 2012 Delius Violin Concerto 1916 Shostakovich Symphony No 10 in E minor Op 93 1953 When I attend concerts I m interested in the reactions of other concert goers Bob a former employee of GCHQ wasn t sure about the Maxwell Davies was entranced by the Delius and completely blown away by the Shostakovich Mary a lawyer thought the Maxwell Davies was a load of rubbish the Delius beautiful and the Shostakovich absolutely terrific Nic a conductor thought the Maxwell Davies great he loves his stuff the Delius a bit aimless and the Shostakovich a really great piece Greg a record company man hated the Maxwell Davies found the Delius agreeably quaint and the Shostakovich one of the greatest symphonies full stop On the basis of this unscientific survey then five stars go to Shostakovich three or four to Delius and maybe two to Maxwell Davies So what did I think Read on Maxwell Davies s 9 th Symphony is dedicated to HM the Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee One can only wonder what she would make of it it s not exactly a cosy tribute to be enjoyed on a sunny Sunday afternoon relaxing on a sofa at Balmoral

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/category/concert-reviews/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Blog » Christopher Gunning
    been bad for them My father had had an illustrious career as a musician starting in South Africa then Holland then Australia and finally this country He had composed a great deal of music in a romantic style sometimes echoing Rachmaninov or Delius and in Australia had accompanied some celebrities of the time including Dame Marie Melba and Peter Dawson The final achievement was to make it in Britain and initially things went well His music was performed by various orchestras here including the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult My mother who was my father s pupil performed his piano concerti and other works with the BBC and the two of them toured the country giving concert parties But a number of factors put a stop to all this His musical style had become unfashionable there were three children to support and these were the war years They must often have wondered why things had gone so awry By the time I knew my father he was already fifty when I was born he was disenchanted and sick with untreated diabetes and then he suffered a series of dreadfully debilitating strokes For the last five years of his life he was an invalid and throughout these years my mother nursed him at home with undying devotion A musical education for me was not high on the agenda even though it must have been obvious from the beginning that music would provide my livelihood I was no good at anything else With no formal lessons at all I picked up tunes and their accompaniments by ear and it was not long before I was composing my own pieces There were rather a lot of waltzes at first but gradually things became more sophisticated At Hendon County Grammar School I learned to read music and if I say so myself excelled at harmony and counterpoint These were such exciting years as I investigated classical music from dawn to dusk or rather when I wasn t out on my bike I also started to learn about jazz I ll never forget hearing Miles Davis playing Milestones and Porgy and Bess for the first time And then came pop music in the guise of Burt Bacharach and I realised that pop music too could be harmonically interesting A major discovery happened when I borrowed an LP of Bartok s 2nd Violin Concerto from the local record library Actually it was the second time I d borrowed it the first time was when I was twelve and I thought it was rubbish Then a friend suggested I give it another go and since it was a friend whose musical taste I respected I gave it another shot Wonderful A whole new area of music was opened and I began to hear all sorts of elements I thought I could work with Another composer whose work I began to adore and still do to this day was Maurice Ravel I revelled in the orgasmic

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/category/blog/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Contact » Christopher Gunning
    Music Ltd Woodleys Croxley Hall Woods Rickmansworth Hertfordshire WD3 3BE United Kingdom telephone 01923 710385 Comments or questions are welcome indicates required field Name Email Re enter Email Message CAPTCHA Code October 11 2011 Home About Christopher Buy CDs Film TV scores Concert Music Listen Discography Shop Videos Reviews Gallery Writings My Works Concert Reviews Blog Contact Follow Me HOME ABOUT BUY CDs FILM TV SCORES CONCERT MUSIC LISTEN DISCOGRAPHY

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/contact/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • CD Symphony no 6 Night Voyage Symphony no 7 » Christopher Gunning
    and thoughtful fast and increasingly dramatic slow and expressive fast and mostly perky and lastly a coda drawing on earlier material I have always been drawn to the sea and Night Voyage is very definitely a sea piece It was born on a winter s evening as I stood by the Mersey river in Liverpool to the West a patch of orange lit the darkening sky seabirds called mournfully and I watched a large grey freighter slipping majestically out to sea Where was it heading and what would befall it My ship takes an imaginary journey first there is the optimism of a new adventure but soon we meet a violent storm As the storm subsides land is sighted and we arrive safely at dawn battered and bruised but intact if chastened There are obvious parallels with life here this is really a tone poem depicting a journey through an emotional crisis to a resolution of a sort The theme of journeying is carried through to my 7th Symphony Like the 6th the music is continuous but this time falls into six main sections or phases all founded in various ways on the rising whole tone scale heard at the very start I had in mind a long challenging journey you can imagine the ascent of a high mountain or something more psychological fortunately music can hardly ever be specific and surely one of the joys of listening is that everybody brings their own life experiences to bear Phase one is slow and thoughtful which you could regard as waking from sleep and pondering the task ahead A far more active phase follows mostly optimistic with hints of something heroic With phase three we enter a mysterious foggy world with the blurred outlines of mysterious shapes Phase four by contrast

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/cd-symphony-no-6-nightvoyage-no-7/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • News » Christopher Gunning
    keep up with the work and performances of Christopher Subscribe to the newsletter for all the latest information Subscribe here indicates required field Name Email Re enter Email Confirm subscription to Newsletter CAPTCHA Code Share on Tumblr January 30 2013 Christopher s Guitar Concerto Clarinet Concerto and Concertino for Flute and Small Orchestra released on CD Christopher s Guitar Concerto Clarinet Concerto and Concertino for Flute and Small Orchestra have been released on CD and as downloads by Discovery Music Vision The Guitar Concerto was composed specially for Craig Ogden the brilliant guitarist whose recordings for Virgin EMI Chandos Nimbus Hyperion Sony and Classic FM have received wide acclaim and whose albums The Guitarist and Summertime shot to the top of the classical charts in 2010 and 2011 The concerto is subtitled Requerdos do Mallorca Michael Whight the principal clarinetist in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is the soloist in the Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra The Concertino for Flute and Small Orchestra was composed for Catherine Handley in 2011 and is influenced by Christopher s love of the Welsh mountains valleys and villages where Catherine lives Listen to samples and buy the CD on this website here Watch a

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/category/news/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Diana Brekalo to perform CG’s Piano Sonata, St Olave’s Church, Hart Street, London EC3R 7NB, 2nd July at 1pm » Christopher Gunning
    to perform CG s Piano Sonata St Olave s Church Hart Street London EC3R 7NB 2nd July at 1pm The Royal Festival Hall wrecked by boozing Christopher s Sixth Symphony Night Voyage and Seventh Symphony released on CD PROM 52 Param Vir s new commission Sibelius Bantock Elgar Ian Bostridge Daniel Harding and the LSO honour Sir Colin Davis with Tippett Britten and Elgar Archives Archives Select Month June 2015

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/2015/06/14/diana-brekalo-to-perform-cgs-piano-sonata-st-olaves-church-hart-street-london-ec3r-7nb-2nd-july-at-1pm/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Ian Bostridge, Daniel Harding and the LSO honour Sir Colin Davis with Tippett, Britten and Elgar. » Christopher Gunning
    tackling Tippett s cross rhythms as was demonstrated by the strings of the LSO under Harding The outer movements were lively and pointed and the middle movement simply beautiful with calmly expressive solos from Carmine Lauri the leader and Rebecca Gilliver cello Overall I loved the unforced way in which the piece was interpreted by the soloists and ensemble as a whole Britten was working on Les Illuminations at the same time as Tippett on his Double Concerto and juxtaposing the two works demonstrated some of the radically different ways in which the two composers thought as well as some similarities Britten would always be the more natural of the two composing at a rate of knots and producing works with a flair for melody texture colour and a genius for working in relatively small scale forms which nevertheless pack a powerful emotional punch No doubt some of the turbulence of the settings is attributable to the imminent war Britten like Tippett was to become a conscientious objector and sought temporary refuge in the US and how destabilising the times must have been to the young composer The nine main sections which make up Les Illuminations are settings of poems by Arthur Rimbaud whose hallucinatory way of looking at things greatly appealed to Britten The string writing is astonishingly fluent and varied for a composer in his mid twenties and the word setting already shows Britten in command of techniques which would see him through to the end of his life even if he would always be happiest when setting the English language How lucky we were to have the opportunity of hearing the remarkable Ian Bostridge let loose on this early and appealing work Clear diction perfect intonation a vocal quality which simply melts your heart but is strong enough to carry to the farthest reaches of the Albert Hall what more could you possibly want One almost felt Bostridge to be a perfect synthesis of Rimbaud and Britten as he swooped and dived yet gave us sensual cantabile lines when needed I felt this to be a quite outstanding performance with Harding and the LSO s strings doing everything just perfectly And yes of course we thought of Colin Davis and all our other departed friends in the final Départ So moving And so to the major work of the evening and Elgar s 2 nd Symphony has never enjoyed the popularity of his 1 st One reason is pretty obvious it doesn t have a main theme of the sort that opens and closes the 1 st Also it doesn t end triumphantly and people were expecting that sort of thing from Elgar No this is the work of an older man perhaps even by now if not disillusioned then chastened and far more experienced and undoubtedly worried by the political situation that would shortly lead to WW1 The second movement is among Elgar s most heartfelt creations but throughout this long important work there are contrasts

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/2013/08/21/ian-bostridge-daniel-harding-and-the-lso-honour-sir-colin-davis-with-tippett-britten-and-elgar/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • CD – Symphony no 5 & String Quartet no 1 » Christopher Gunning
    woodwind flourishes the notes of which will be used in various transformations during the course of the symphony Otherwise the movement is shaped roughly like a classical first movement with themes derived from the woodwind figures a central development section and a recapitulation complete with a return of the the opening motifs The second movement is far gentler and here I was pondering on my own childhood and the early years of my four beloved daughters A soft flute theme gives way to grander sections as well as more playful music The third movement is about vitality and adventure It is very energetic with some lighter sections and some progressively stormy or even warlike music there s a crash of thunder at the climax after which things subside and the movement ends as it began The last movement is the most extended Some of it is turbulent some fiercely dramatic and some expressive Finally the music returns once again to the opening motif dust to dust and ashes to ashes The Royal Philharmonic played their socks off during two exhilarating days at Air Lyndhurst Studios My String Quartet was composed in 1999 and revised in 2006 Each of the four movements is based on on a three note motif C D G with it s four possible transpositions The first is an arch shaped passacaglia and the secondis a fast semi fugal scherzo The third is quietly expressive and the last is a bright rondo with ostinati based on the 3 note idea The Juno Quartet Jacqueline Shave Magnus Johnston Claire Finnemore and Caroline Dearnely gave their all and were absolutely lovely to work with Track listing Symphony no 5 1st movement 13 00 2nd movement 10 29 3rd movement 11 08 4th movement 17 03 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted

    Original URL path: http://www.christopher-gunning.co.uk/cd-symphony-no-5-string-quartet-no-1/ (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive


web-archive-uk.com, 2016-12-04