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The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, USA, Saturday, March 20, 1920

DELIUS Violin Concerto

English Notes

By special correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

LONDON, England – Modern music with one classical item made up the Royal Philharmonic Society’s concert at Queen’s Hall on January 29, and the main interest undoubtedly lay with the two purely orchestral works which began and ended the evening – Gustav Holst’s suite "Beni More" and Brahms’ fourth symphony. In between came a "Hymn to Aphrodite" from Granville Bantock’s "Sappho Songs", sung by Olga Haley, and the Delius violin concerto, played by Albert Sammons.

Bantock’s song is a lesson in beautiful scoring, but otherwise is not one of his most distinctive things, and Olga Haley’s voice is just a little too light for this type of dramatic work, though she is to be commended for including compositions by fellow countrymen in her repertory. The Delius concerto, produced for the first time at a Philharmonic concert last year, was now repeated "by general request," and could not have been heard under better conditions, for Albert Sammons played it very finely. It is one of those works which provoke discussion. If the ideal of modern music be to have a flood of soft-tinted harmonies undulating on an even-toned mezzo voce, then the concerto is a very paragon of its kind: but to a good many people, rhythm and dynamic contrast still seem desirable in a large work, and these are almost totally absent from the Delius concerto.

"Beni More," by Holst, was rich in those qualities the concerto lacked. Laid out in three movements which record impressions of Arab music heard in Algeria, the strongly original material, the delicate intricate rhythms, and the extraordinary truth of atmosphere mark it as one of the most successful bits of recent program music.

Under Adrian Boult, Brahms’ symphony in E minor, often thought to be one of his toughest works, became as clear and direct as heart could wish, and received a splendid performance. The symphony stood revealed as an expression of that wisdom, deep and mellow, already detached from the visible world, which Beethoven also had learned, and strove to convey in his latest quartets. It is one of Adrian Boult’s finest gifts that he can so place a great work before its hearers that all thoughts save those of the music itself vanish for the time being.

Albert Sammons and William Murdoch gave a recital of violin and piano sonatas at Wigmore Hall on January 31, and drew a crowded audience. Individually they are splendid artists, and by working in combination they have developed an ensemble in which each seems the perfect complement of the other. They have the same glow, the same virility, the same intellectual conceptions, and the balance of tone between them is always perfectly adjusted.

Dohnányi’s sonata in E major, which began the program, comes very near being "Capellmeister" music. A finely thought-out performance of the "Great" G major sonata by Beethoven followed. The ensemble in the pellucid arpeggios and the joins between the sections of the first movement were faultlessly achieved. In the scherzo and finale, the tempi adopted seemed slightly slower than usual, but possibly they were more in accord with the customs of Beethoven’s time. Debussy’s sonata in G major and John Ireland’s in A minor were thoroughly congenial to the players, for Murdoch is noted as being an exponent of Debussy, and Ireland’s sonata is dedicated to Sammons. Both works received strikingly good performances; the rapid grace of the French music being as well realized as the uncompromising strength and impetuosity of the English work.

The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, USA, Saturday, March 20, 1920

This article appears here with the kind permission of Pamela Blevins


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