Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Il pleuvait sur Peckham...

Once again, thanks to the selflessness of British collector Paul Steinson, we are able to enjoy two acoustical rarities. The first was recorded on a very wet day in 1923 - in Peckham!

Liszt Piano Concerto No.1 in E flat
Anderson Tyrer (piano)
British Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Adrian Boult
Velvet Face 557-58

Joe Batten's Book, London: Rockliff, 1956, p.61: ‘Dr. Adrian Boult’s first recording for Velvet Face was Liszt’s E flat Piano Concerto, Anderson Tyrer being the soloist. Our well-concealed recording studio in Peckham was remote from the West End. The first session had been called for ten in the morning ; since dawn it had rained hard and incessantly. Through this downpour Boult pedalled across London on a bicycle; when he arrived at the studio his clothes were soaked. But he made nothing of it, mounting the rostrum and getting to work without any fuss. As he conducted, water dripped from coat and trousers and collected in puddles about his feet. Despite this physical discomfort, he made a musicianly job of the Liszt work.’

As the set was issued in July 1923, I guess these sessions took place in the first half of that year - does anyone have a more precise date? The recording was mentioned in The Gramophone in January 1924, in Compton Mackenzie’s quarterly retrospective, but, as far as I can make out (since The Gramophone’s online archive is so hard to search), it was never fully reviewed - I wonder why not?

This is often stated to be the Concerto's first recording; most of Arthur de Greef’s version with Ronald on HMV (D 890-92) was actually waxed earlier, in 1922, but not completed until September 1923. This Velvet Face version has a cut of a few bars marked Grandioso at the end of the first side, not a bad one; otherwise, it is complete. I have merely run Mr. Steinson’s dub through ClickRepair, with decrackling, and joined up the sides (as you will hear, since the surface noise changes quite abruptly).

Download the single, fully-tagged mono FLAC file from my midden.

Some time in the following year, the same team returned (I imagine) to Peckham:

Franck Variations symphoniques
Anderson Tyrer (piano)
British Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Adrian Boult
Velvet Face 599-600

This set, recorded complete, was issued in November 1924, when it was reviewed in The Gramophone. The reviewer, Peter Latham, preferred Arthur de Greef’s 1922 version with Ronald on HMV (D 697-98), transferred and recently uploaded by this enterprising fellow-blogger (doubt he's a fellow-troglodyte, though). I'm just glad to have both!

Technical bits as above. Download the single, fully-tagged mono FLAC file from here.

As ever, the Cave resounds with thanks to Mr. Paul Steinson. All such offerings are, of course, grumpily - I mean, gratefully - received...


  1. Dear Troglodyte, very interesting posts, this and the ones earlier. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  2. And thank you for your great blog, Satyr! Best wishes, G

  3. Nick - Thanks so much for Mr. Tyrer and Dr. Boult!

  4. Just sat down and listened to these through the ol' music box and WOW what special find they are! The piano sound in the Franck is particularly surprising. Better, in the main, than much of what passed for Hi Fi in the early LP era, I say.

    I was also wowed by your transcription of Ruhlmann's "Tannhäuser" recording. I want to hear more of him!

    cheers friend,

  5. Dear Buster & Squirrel, Thank you both for your kind comments, though all the credit belongs to Paul Steinson for these Velvet Face sets and to Jolyon for the Ruhlmann. And to you both for your fantastic offerings, of course! When I get my act together, I'll be able to do 78 transfers myself. Best, G

  6. Dear grumpy & charming Nick,
    thank you so much for these rarities! – and
    for mentioning »Joe Batten’s Book« which I
    will try to get hold of…
    (I’ve just finished reading »Dame Adrian’s«
    memoirs: he doesn’t mention Tyrer nor Peckham.)

    All my best,

  7. Thank you Malatesta! I see copies of Joe B's Book fairly often so you should find one - in fact, there's one going very cheap on Amazon UK! Don't worry about the pages falling out, it was very cheaply produced so that's true of every copy. Best wishes, G

  8. I’ve ordered my copy – thanks again!

  9. Grumpy,
    I hope you will soon return to your cave and offer more fascinating musical stalactites. Perhaps the holidays have you particularly grumpy and un-share-y? I wish you fine fettle and swift return to these parts.
    Best wishes from snow-obliterated new york city!