M.P. Belaieff, Frankfurt/M. (BEL 691, ISMN M-2030-0424-0) £41.99
The preface to this new edition of Frederick Delius's orchestral suite Florida gives us an insight into the uneven history of Delius's manuscript score, which is now held in the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, Australia. Above and beyond the history there is also further evidence - not that such evidence is needed by those of us who love the orchestral music of Delius and deplore some of the offhand treatment he has received from some people and organisations - of what a long and perplexing saga of neglect has attended this attractive work.
The Florida suite was written at Leipzig in 1887, during the time when Delius was a student at the Conservatory there. That same year it received its first semi-private performance, "...to a limited audience of Christian Sinding, Grieg and the composer by the musicians of the band at Bonorand's restaurant in the Rosenthal Park, conducted by Hans Sitt, who taught violin at the Leipzig Conservatory and had succeeded Brodsky as director of the conservatory orchestra." Afterwards, according to an article by Rachel Lowe in the Musical Times of March 1965, a re-scoring of the suite was undertaken by Delius during 1888/1889. Astonishingly, the piece then had to wait until 1937 (after Delius had died!) to be published by Beecham, and for three movements of the suite to receive their London première.
According to Robert Threlfall, the manuscript lacks its original third movement, but there is an extant manuscript of the revised version of this movement: "Sir Thomas Beecham entered his editing into both of these manuscripts, probably at the time of the performance of part of the work in April 1937. Further markings were added by him to the copyist's orchestral parts used on that occasion. By the time Beecham recorded the work in the 1950s the manuscript scores had been given to the Grainger Museum...where they remain. Subsequently a copyist's score was raised for Beecham's use from the orchestral parts, and further editing was added to it by him. This score was used for the first edition of the work, published in 1963." The present score has four movements: Daybreak, By the River, Sunset and At Night.
No surprise, then, to see the influence of Beecham in this publication. The Italian directions and metronome marks supplied by Beecham for his 1963 edition have been retained. Moreover, as Delius was still a student in Leipzig Conservatoire at the time of composition (and considering that first performance given by local German musicians at the restaurant in the park), it isn't surprising that Delius's own indications of tempo and expression also appear in German.
So the first movement, 'Daybreak', is also called 'Tagesanbruch', and the instruction Andante moderato is amplified by Sehr mässig; sehr leise und allmählich starker werdend. ('At a very moderate speed; very quiet, becoming stronger little by little.') Footnotes tell us that: "Sir Thomas Beecham originally eliminated the strings' mutes (which appear in Delius's manuscript)." Beecham also indicated that the notes in the horn parts on the first page should be stopped, and has queried the second horn part in one bar of the first movement, on page 13 of this edition.
Issued in conjunction with the Delius Trust, this is a reprint of the 1963 edition, revised in 1986, with yet further revisions for this 2006 printing. Printed on white paper, with numbers rather than letters used as rehearsal points, it is unfortunate that no bar numbers are given, a weakness that could easily have been remedied. Nevertheless, the score is authoritative, with pleasing print (music and words) that is clear and easy to use. Orchestral parts are available on hire.
The Eulenberg Audio + Score series contains 50 of the most famous orchestral works of the baroque, classical and romantic repertoire, from Bach to Wagner. The striking point is that these scores are incredible value for money; each costs only £3.99 each when the complete works are purchased on subscription. At a price equivalent to a glossy magazine, or a couple of pints of beer, here is a remarkable bargain. Even when purchased individually, each Audio + Score still only costs £5.99.
The scores, perfect bound with a crisp, square spine, come in a fresh version of the well-known Eulenberg yellow cover, laminated for durability. Explanatory prefaces are written both in English and German. The score is packaged with a CD of the complete work, made under licence from Naxos and stored in a transparent wallet inside the back cover of the score. The orchestra heard on both Bach discs, Capella Istropolitana, based in Bratislava, was founded in 1983 by members of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, initially as a chamber orchestra, then as an orchestra large enough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Capella Istropolitana works in recording studios and undertakes frequent tours throughout Europe. The orchestra's discs on the Naxos label include The Best of Baroque Music, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, fifteen each of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as well as works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann. So, here is an astounding bargain. Individually, Naxos recordings sell for around £5.00. One could view this as a CD purchase with a score thrown in! I foresee a high demand.
The score format, at 22.5 x 16 cm, is just too large to pop into the average jacket pocket. The clarity of the printed image (on high-quality paper) varies slightly from work to work, for the two volumes of Bach overtures (numbers 13 and 14 in the Eulenburg series), the image is marginally clearer than that in Dvorák's Ninth Symphony (reviewed below), though it is stated that the whole series has been newly engraved. However, although the print in the Dvorák symphony looks to be of a slightly older style, it is still perfectly legible. The volume that contains Bach Overture No 1 in C major and Overture No 2 in B minor also contains an integrally-bound Eulenberg catalogue, which occupies a considerable proportion of its contents, being a 46-page catalogue with 50 pages of score.
While many musicians will be pleased to own an up-to-date catalogue of Eulenberg's 1,200 titles of chamber, orchestral, operatic and choral works (not merely of the Audio+Score series), there is no mention of this on the cover of this particular volume, and of course the catalogue list will go out of date. Nevertheless, I am pleased to discover that works by Edward Elgar, George Gershwin, Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Carl Orff, Sergej Prokofiev, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky and Sir Michael Tippett are now in the Eulenberg list. We are also told that: 'Among the revised scores are the symphonies of Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Mozart, Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann, to name but a few.'
Removing the CD from its clear plastic envelope inside the back cover of the score proved to be slightly difficult. Perhaps this is done to deter light-fingered shoppers from separating the disc from the score? The wallet, glued to the cover, has a plastic flap which is tucked down and hidden behind the disc, then sealed. The purchaser must tear the plastic seal to release the disc. Unfortunately, this is likely to leave the sticky flap of the envelope protruding untidily, adhering to whatever it touches! A better method of storage should be found.
Playing the disc on my own PC, using Windows Media Player, track numbers and timings are displayed, but the CD is described as having an 'unknown artist', and the track shown as having come from an 'unknown album'! All fine and good if playing discs singly for your own pleasure, but when in a classroom or a lecture theatre one will have to be well-organised to avoid confusion if undertaking a multi-work presentation. Maybe this is a quirk of my particular model of CD player? I hope so. Both the musical performance and the quality of the recording are exemplary.
Commendably, Eulenberg also offer advice about score-reading, including suggestions about a suitable piece for beginners (Beethoven's Romance in F major for violin and orchestra), with advice to count bars, read an individual part, and eventually to give up counting the bars and to read by following one instrument, then going over to section-by-section or selective reading. In summary, Eulenberg is here offering a top-quality bargain, which should not to be missed.
Antonin Dvorák's Symphony number nine (score number 12 in this Eulenburg Audio+Score series) was first performed by the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Anton Seidl in Andrew Carnegie's fantastic two-year-old Music Hall in New York, on 15th December 1893. The title, 'From the New World', was used from the beginning: "The symphony would be performed at the next New York Philharmonic concert, on or about 15 December, and since it was necessary that the parts be copied and that there be time to study the score, [Seidl] requested the master to send him the score as soon as possible. That same evening, the very moment before [he] set out with the score, the master added to the title-page the words, 'From the New World'."
Dvorák's arrival in America in 1892 had been the result of great persistence on the part of Jeannette Thurber - the wife of the wealthy New York merchant who founded the National Conservatory of Music in New York, a pioneering institution which opened its doors in 1888 to promising African-American musicians. Jeanette Thurber hoped that by employing Dvorák (1841-1904) as a teacher of composition, and particularly as the conservatory's artistic director, she would put her institution on a firm footing towards the eventual production of American-born composers of world class. Dvorák was allegedly lured to New York with the promise of a fee twenty times his salary in Prague! Eventually, he stayed in America for three years.
At the time, there was much discussion about the importance of establishing a truly American style of music. Dvorák himself started the debate in an interview published in the New York Herald in 1893, while he was finishing the last movement of the New World Symphony. He was quoted as having said: 'I am now satisfied that the future of music in this country must be founded upon what are called Negro melodies. This must be the real foundation of any serious and original school of composition to be developed in the United States.' Interestingly, and somewhat paradoxically, Dvorák completed the symphony during the summer while on vacation in Spillville, Iowa, staying in a colony of Czech immigrants who helped to moderate the composer's homesickness.
The head of the cello faculty at the National Conservatory was Dublin-born Victor Herbert (1859-1924), who is now more remembered as a composer. In fact, he was the first composer to write for film. At the time, Herbert was known as a conductor and also as the leading cellist of his generation. Later (in 1914) he was to be one of the founders of ASCAP. But at the time of the première of the New World Symphony, the cellist had not begun to compose his famous operettas.
Herbert recalled that the young black composer and singer Harry (Henry) Burleigh, then a student at the Conservatory, had given Dvorák some of the tunes for the ninth symphony. Herbert added, 'I have seen this denied, but it is true.' Burleigh sang spirituals for Dvorák, who took a great interest in Burleigh as one of the conservatory's most talented students. Whether or not Burleigh gave Dvorák any actual melodies, he certainly familiarized Dvorák with the characteristic melodic types of the spiritual, including the use of the pentatonic scale.
Dvorák returned home to Czechoslovakia in 1895, leaving behind a legacy greater than anything Jeannette Thurber had ever dared to dream. Yet, more than 70 years later, in The Infinite Variety of Music, Leonard Bernstein examined each of the symphony's themes, traced their origin to Chinese, Czech, French, German and Scottish sources, and concluded: "What emerged, of course, is a beautiful, finely wrought and deeply felt Old World symphony". In Bernstein's view one had to consider the symphony multi-national at best. So much for Dvorák's suggestion that the future of music in America must be: 'founded upon what are called Negro melodies'.
Consistent with the two scores of Bach overtures reviewed above, this publication has laminated covers, with perfect binding. A short preface by Klaus Döge is included, translated into English by Richard Deveson. The full length CD, again made under licence by Naxos, presents the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Gunzenhauser. And, like the Bach scores, the method of attaching the envelope containing the CD to the score booklet is not ideal. Otherwise, it is a welcome publication.
Tchaikovsky conducted the first performance of his Symphony Number Six in B minor on October 28 of 1893 in St. Petersburg. Only after the première did he add the word Pathétique - or rather, he added its Russian near-equivalent pateticeskaja or patetichesky, which carries the slightly different meanings of 'enthusiastic', 'emotional' or even 'bombastic' or 'passionate' - certainly not 'pathetic'. Then, almost immediately, the composer asked his publisher to suppress the word. Within a couple of weeks of the première Tchaikovsky was dead at the age of 53, the Moscow première taking place posthumously on 4th December 1893.
Until the end of the 20th century, it was widely thought that Tchaikovsky had died of cholera. However, in recent years Alexandra Orlova, a Soviet musicologist, proposed the theory that an honour court of former classmates at the college of law in St. Petersburg forced Tchaikovsky to commit suicide by taking arsenic. Apparently, the composer was under the threat of having his homosexual affair with a young nobleman exposed. Upon hearing news of the composer's death, Tchaikovsky's publisher Jurgenson reinstated the sub-title, usually represented by its French translation, Pathétique. Given the dramatic circumstances, it wasn't surprising that the name stuck.
The huge first movement of the symphony reaches bar 90 (page 18 in the Belaieff full score) before the strings present the soaring second subject in D major, the great melody being 'known and loved to the outermost reaches of the civilized world', in the words of Leonard Bernstein. Thanks in part to the tune being appropriated by Tin Pan Alley, it is familiar even to those who have no idea when the tune was written, what for, or by whom. Indeed, its beauty has led to much debate as to its suitability as a symphonic theme; melodies suitable for development usually consist of short motives or figures. To test the truth of that idea, one needs to think no further than the symphonies of Beethoven. In an exhaustive and thoroughly absorbing essay, Bernstein has argued that, no, this is not really a symphonic theme, but that yes, without doubt, the Pathétique really is a symphony!
In place of the usual slow movement, the unconventional D major second movement of the symphony is marked Allegro con grazia, with a time signature of five-four. Such a lop-sided pulse was, and still is, rare. Historically, time signatures in music have derived from everyday human activities such as marching, walking, running and dancing, or maybe trotting or galloping on horseback, all of which are inevitably grouped evenly in pulse combinations of twos or threes. Here, Tchaikovsky's five pulses are a result of a two-plus-three grouping which, despite its novelty, expresses a balletic grace that reminds us of Waltz of the Flowers in Nutcracker.
The final movement, Adagio lamentoso, gave the name 'Pathétique' to the symphony. To end a symphony with a tragic slow movement was brilliant and daring. Here, Tchaikovsky's innovative use of fourths both melodically and harmonically (a unifying element throughout the movement used to such an extent that Bernstein called it a 'Festival of Fourths'), was a precursor of an important element of the musical language of Bartók, Orff, Janácek, Hindemith and Stravinsky.
The Belaieff full score comprises 227 pages, perfect bound on cream paper, with soft covers, measuring 23 x 30 cm, known as Bachformat. As well as rehearsal letters, at the top of each page of score the bar number is given - a useful aid to navigation in rehearsal. Music printing is clear, sharp, and well-spaced. A single-page Afterword (Nachwort) carries brief historical notes, score sources, and editorial comments with sources, given in German and English. An excellent publication which is suitable for professional use. Orchestral parts are available for hire and purchase.