Friday, 13 August 2010

Ffunky Ggibbons, Locke & Purcell

Here's another one you won't want!

But I love these recordings of 17th C consort music by string quartet. They bring it out of the music chest and the library and into the concert hall - especially peformances as confident as these, by the New Music String Quartet: Broadus Earle, Matthew Raimondi (violins), Walter Trampler (viola), Claus Adam (cello). Recorded by Peter Bartók in about 1952, I reckon, for his own label, on which this was first released as LP number 913, some time in the first half of 1953. The Quartet made quite a few interesting LPs of early music for Bartók, from Alessandro Scarlatti to F.X. Richter; some have been reissued on CD - but not this one. This World Record Club Recorded Music Circle issue must date from the late 1950s, no? I wish I knew more about this fascinating label: all info grumpily received.

The two Gibbons 4-part Fantasias (his only two) have been transposed up a fourth; at this pitch and in the NMSQ's hands they zing with high tension and rhythmic drive. Perhaps the Quartet should have upped Locke's sixth Consort of Ffowre Parts too; it comes across least well of the 5 pieces here. This was not its first recording; amazingly, that was made in 1929 by the National Gramophonic Society, with André Mangeot and his International String Quartet playing Mangeot's edition of a transcription by Warlock (I dunno what edition was used here - quite possibly the same?). The movements are Fantazia, Courante, Ayre, Saraband.

The famous Purcell Chacony, on the other hand, has a reticent delicacy that I really like - no Nymanesque chugging or overblown climax. Not on the disc, anyway.

Download the 5 fully tagged mono FLAC files in a .rar archive from here.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks so much for these. The NMQ were such a great and under-recorded ensemble. For anyone interested, their Beethoven (available on the Bartok site you link to) is just stunning.

  3. Does anyone have catalogues or release sheets? I'd love to date some of the WRC issues, which weren't reviewed in the Gramophone. In fact, we really need a complete discography!

  4. The WRC records weren't reviewed in Gramophone because the major labels saw cheap record club issues as a threat and put pressure on Gramophone not to review them, and craven Gramophone gave in. They started to review the records in the early 1960s, when WRC had been taken over buy EMI.

    I started a discography years ago, but never managed to complete it. It's not up to Philip Stuart level and has no dates, but for what it's worth:

  5. Thank you, David, I suspected WRC was perhaps regarded as infra dig but your Machiavellian explanation makes sense - and reminds us unfair practices aren't new even in the classical record business... And thank you so, so much for the discography! I will try to add more info when I can. At least it'll stop me buying monos where stereos exist. Best wishes, Nick

  6. Dear Nick,

    I assume you are the Nick Morgan who wrote a piece on downloading in the Summer issue of Classic Record Collector?
    You say of the Archival Sound Recordings site that the recordings can't be downloaded and saved: true up to a point (at least not directly) but there are plenty of programmes that will record while streaming - I use Total Recorder.
    Best wishes,

  7. That's an amazing effort David. Very well done. With regard to the Recorded Music Circle part of the list,do you have any more details on CM12/SCM12(?) : it sort of sticks out like a sore thumb among the rest of the titles which are all classical.

  8. With regard to stereo issues of Recorded Music Circle titles, the following also exist: SCM 5, 6, 7, 11, 25, 29, 31, 34, 46, 51, 53, 55, 65, 66, 67, 82-3,
    New entries:
    CM/SCM7 : Smetana & Dvorak String quartets Aeolian SQ
    CM/SC 29 : Prokofiev Symphony 5 LSO Sargent
    CM30 : Mozart K.570.399.394 Kirkpatrick (f-piano)
    CM/SCM34 : Copland Symphon 3, LSO Copland
    CM35 : Handel Concerti grossi,op.6, 1-4 Tilegant
    CM37 : Lieder recital Matti Lehtinen
    CM38 : Dvorak Piano Quintet Solchany, Hungarian Q
    Schubert Quartettsatz, D.703 Lowenguth Q
    CM44-5 : Brahms German Requiem Triumphlied
    Sailer,Titze, Stuttgart Ch. Couraud
    CM70 : R. Strauss Opera excerpts Ludwig, Berry
    CM81 : Prokofiev Sinfonia concertante, op.125
    Rostropovich, RPO, conducted by Sargent
    CM/SCM82-3 : Handel Solomon, conducted by Beecham
    CM87 : Recital of Spanish songs, M.Caballe

    Many of the titles also appeared on 3.75 ips mono reel-to-reel tapes.
    Most of the recordings were licensed from labels like Everest, Westminster, Bartok, Erato and Ariola but there were many original records too, presumably the Virtuoso Ensemble, the Aeolian SQ and others. Of course when EMI took over WRC became mostly an EMI reissue label

  9. Which leaves us with the question of what is on CM13, CM14, CM18 and CM49. 13 and 49 appear in the BL Sound Archive catalogue but only as numbers of records "in store". I would be most grateful for any information on these four remaining discs.

  10. Hi all, Sorry not to have responded earlier! I've no idea what was on those LPs either. I guess it's a question of looking through old mags and release sheets - if anyone has them? I shall try to remember next time I'm at the BL (though I believe LPs are unavailable at the moment, as the entire collection is being moved). G

  11. I think that BL has an incomplete collection of the WRC's publications but I don't live anywhere near London so I've had to use other sources. It's a shame the Sound Archive catalogue is so sporadic in its coverage (online at least). Does anybody know where the collection is being moved to? Boston Spa perhaps?

  12. Further to my previous comments, CM12 remains a mystery as it is not "Negro spirituals" which is LM12, an easy mistake to make.
    CM13 turns out to be a recording by The Harpsichord Quartet of Couperin, Frescobaldi and Rosenmuller first issued on Esoteric ES507 ; and CM14 is a recording of the Khachaturian piano concerto by Alexander Jenner with the Vienna Volksoper Orchestra conducted by Kurt Richter,first issued on Classique.
    RMC later issued another recording of the same concerto by Peter Katin

  13. I have now persuaded the BL, in the person of a nice chap called Rod Hamilton, to retrieve CM12 and CM49 from their "store" which turns out to be in Boston Spa.
    CM12 is another "Harpsichord Quartet" (Claude Monteux, flute ; Harry Shulman,oboe ; Bernard Greenhouse, cello ; Sylvia Marlowe,harpsichord) recording from Esoteric/Counterpoint of trio sonatas by Bach and Handel, and a cello sonata by Handel, made in 1954.
    CM49 is revealed as the Klemperer/Cavelti/Dermota/VSO recording of "Das Lied von er Erde".A surprise there!
    Who will reveal the contents of CM18?