excerpt from 'Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 8 Feb 1939' (395 words)

excerpt from 'Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 8 Feb 1939' (395 words)

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Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 8 Feb 1939

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Feb. 8, B.B.C. : Boult : Hymn of Jesus, King David

It must be a very long time since I heard the Holst [Hymn of Jesus] – possibly not since two Oxford performances in the successive summers of 1920 and 1921. It does not seem to me so exciting as it did then – I have heard a great deal in the meantime – but I am still very much impressed by it – it’s beauty and inevitability. It seemed to be well done & the reduction of the semi-chorus to very small proportions gave an excellent effect of remoteness.

The Honneger [King David] was new to me apart from the selections which I have on the gramophone. It was written, in 1921, as the incidental music to a Biblical Play, using an orchestra of 15 instruments of which the double bass was the only stringed instrument. Later it became a sort of oratorio, arranged for normal orchestra with a narrator (mostly unaccompanied[)] to sum up the episodes of the story. It’s [sic] origin probably accounts for the fact that the string part has little individual interest, tho’ the wind is used very effectively – especially the trumpets & trombones & sometimes, the horns. It is really a very beautiful and effective work. The two sections which I have liked most on the gramophone – the Penitential Psalm “Miséricorde O dieu pitié” (Pity me God, in my distress”) and the Angel’s song at the end still seemed to me the most beautiful tho’ there are other fine passages. The choral writing is often most effective. Elsie Suddaby has just the right light high soprano & sang more beautifully than ever. Astra Desmond, with less to do was also good. The tenor’s part is rather subdued & does not exploit his high notes. Parry Jones (an inevitable choice, apparently, for any out of the way work[)] made the most of it. But the narrator (Leslie Banks) was really dreadful. He shouted monotonously, with no feeling or expression – a much quieter delivery would have been 10 times as effective – and in the “accompanied” Endor invocation (not a recitative, for it was still spoken) got so far out that he had to omit several sentences in order to catch up. But he was the only blot on a very good evening.

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