By Charles G.
The Gramophone Company has started the new year with a masterly recording of Brahms's 2nd Pianoforte Concerto in B Flat. The soloist is that truly great musician, Schnabel. The stormy terrors of the 1st Concerto are left far behind and we are wafted into a land of charm and lyric melody. If it is true that without Beethoven there never could have been Brahms, that is only another cause of thankfulness for the existence of Beethoven. If, in one sense, the mantle of Beethoven fell upon Brahms, at least he wore it with fine personal distinction. Cecil Gray has advanced the opinion that Brahms was not really a symphonist, that he was a lyric writer and apt to lose himself in the wide, epic spaces that a symphony demands; but I do not think we shall all agree with the criticism. It is, however, true that the four movements of this particular concerto have no special unity; each is lovely and characteristic in its way, but they scarcely make an organic whole. If anyone is starting his study of Brahms, let him take as an introduction the concluding movement, and he will, I think, be entranced at once. Brahms never wrote anything that was cheap or vulgar; a delicate refinement pervades his romance and his musical powers seem inexhaustible. This concerto has long since established itself as a concert favourite, and is a good example of a perfect blend of the classical and romantic. (H.M.V. DB7997 to DB8002.)
Another record we have received this month is the Siegfried Idyll of Wagner, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra being conducted by Bruno Walter. This orchestra has a character all its own, which was noticeable when it was heard in London last summer. The tone of the brass strikes an English ear as peculiar, but none the less the recording is first-class and the performance worthy of a remarkable body of musicians. This music was written by Wagner as a birthday gift to his wife. It was, in fact, a serenade, which Wagner composed during the Christmas season of 1870, shortly after the birth of his son, Siegfried. (1-I.M.V. DB2634/5.) The Boston Orchestra, conducted by Arthur Fiedler, has recorded Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, with J. M. Sanroma at the piano. This composition was the first serious attempt to give the modern American idiom a symphonic form. It proved a remarkable success and has had few imitators.
Alfred Cortot contributes Schumann's " Scenes from Childhood " (Connoisseur
Record D82581/2). In these pieces Schumann was experimenting with picturesque subjects such as he loved to clothe
recordings the H.M.V. has an attractive list
in expressive themes. In addition to such of dance records and vocal records for January.
Appreciation Of Opera
The British Women's Symphony Orchestra made its first appearance this year at the Palladium on January 5, conducted by Charles Hambourg. Their programme included " Fingal's Cave " overture of Mendelssohn, the Symphonic Variations of Cesar Franck, and the 5th Symphony of Beethoven.
The death of Isidore de Lara reminds us
(Continued from previous column.)
once more of the lukewarm appreciation of opera in this country. On the continent the operatic works of this composer were famous during his lifetime and performed constantly at important centres. In England he was known chiefly for a single song, at any rate so far as the greater public was concerned. This was a setting of some verses by Clement Scott called " The Garden of Sleep." The words had reference to that charming piece of coastscenery near Sidestrand, where the poppies grow right down to the edge of the cliff. De Lara's song was one of the great " ballad " successes of its day, and in his autobiography, which he wrote some time ago, he gave the story of its publication. A concert is to be given at the Savoy Theatre to commemorate his more important works.
Rewarding The Composer
Decea records have now produced William Walton's Symphony, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty. It requires six records, and the album contains a descriptive leaflet by Edwin Evans, price complete 30s. The Decca. Company is to be congratulated both upon the excellence of the recording and the rapid way in which they have put this work upon the market and given us all a chance of studying it in detail. lt is surely a great advantage for a composer when his work is made available for a far greater number of musicians than those able to attend a concert performance.
The English Folk Dance and Song Society held their New Year's festival at the Albert Hall recently, which showed us the nature of the masque beloved of old. The " Masque of the Four Seasons" brings with it memories of Tudor and Jacobean times.