excerpt from 'Letter from Leslie Woodgate to Sir Adrian Boult, 26th October 1937' pp. 205-6 (607 words)

excerpt from 'Letter from Leslie Woodgate to Sir Adrian Boult, 26th October 1937' pp. 205-6 (607 words)

part of

Letter from Leslie Woodgate to Sir Adrian Boult, 26th October 1937

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urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

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205-6

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text excerpt

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THREE CHOIRS FESTIVAL - September, 1937

(Gloucester)

26th October, 1937 A great many interesting details emerged from this year's festival. Firstly that Herbert Sumsion is a very good musician and has improved enormously in his direction of the Choirs and Orchestra, secondly that the music of the Gloucester meeting is always a little better choice than the other meetings. It is a great pity, however, that their ambition does not rise to greater heights. The most modern works in the programme were by Kodaly, and he was represented by two Choral pieces which are not to my mind, in the greatest style.

The Sunday service was not distinguished by any good performances, but it showed that the Choir [BBC Chorus?] was as good as usual. Lee William's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were sung 'In memoriam', and they are in good style, but rather imitative of Stanford. On Tuesday the main work was 'Elijah' and what a fine work it is. The first part is brilliant for its dramatic effects and splendid orchestration. The second part rather lags, I feel, in inspiration. The Soloists (Suddaby, Jarred, Trevor Jones and Henderson) sang well. Henderson acted dramatically, but did not quite 'get over'.

Wednesday's performances were excellent. The great work by Vaughan Willaims 'Dona nobis pacem' took on an especial significance, and I think that this is one of the greatest of all his fine works. The text is chosen with an insight belonging to genius. The bi-annual performance of St. Paul's Voyage to Melita by Dr. George Dyson was well done. In the evening the orchestral concert opened auspiciously with a light hearted overture by Arthur Benjamin 'Overture to an Italian Comedy'. This is an excellent bit of fooling, and I am surprised it is not seen in some of our lighter orchestral programmes. It is certainly worth performing. Myra Hess played beautifully in the Beethoven C minor. What a superb artist she is. Kodaly conducted his Dances of Galanta in a rather uninspired fashion - but they are lovely pieces.

The great work on Thursday was the Bach Mass. Dr. Percy Hull did extremely well with this, although I did not care a great deal for his nuances and dynamics. It was one of the best bits of Chorus singing during the week. It was fairly well done, but I do not think Kodaly's conducting is at all helpful. A pleasant string peice by Herbert Howells, 'Elegy' came next, and the final item was Verdi's 'Requiem'. This was sung with great fire and zeal, and sounded great. It is a fine piece, but to English ears a little over sentimental. I love it.

The final performance included 'Jesus and the Traders' (Kodaly). The choirs were woefully unprepared, and it was rather a fiasco. Kodaly conducted this too. I was most anxious to hear the scenes from Parry's 'Judith' (conducted by Sir Ivor Atkins) but I was terribly disappointed. It seems to me to be a rather manufactured piece, with only a little real Parry inspiration. Most of the tunes are four-square and the harmonisation calculated and not felt. The libretto is so bloodthirstly that I had hoped for some full-blooded music, but alas, nothing happened to make me shiver.

These Three Choir Festivals are a splendid mental tonic, and they are helpful to me so far as the training of the Chorus is concerned. It is extremely useful to hear where the singers go wrong, and why, also to know why they sing so well, and why so badly. On the whole, the Gloucester Music meeting this year was one of the best ensembles I have ever heard.

LESLIE WOODGATE

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excerpt from 'Letter from Leslie Woodgate to Sir Adrian Boult, 26th October 1937' pp. 205-6 (607 words)

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