Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


 ARTICLE

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 


Sir Edward Downes: A memory

It’s been a bad, no a dreadful twelve months as far as conductors are concerned; ‘Tod’ Handley, Richard Hickox and now Ted Downes have all left life’s podium. While the first two are a particular loss to the music of our own country, it is the opera world, and in particular the music of Verdi and the Russian schools of the 19th and 20th century which will feel the loss of Downes. The obituaries in the press have filled in the biographical detail, and will also cover his choice of death, in a way which one hopes that sadness mingled with admiration will be the driving force of emotion rather than any intrusive interest. There follows just a handful of my memories to sprinkle around.

I met Ted Downes very infrequently but was always glad to be in his company. In conversation he was straight-talking, witty, cultured, interesting and interested. As a young lad I was part of a Croydon-based orchestra which met on a Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours, never performed in public, and was run by a wonderfully dotty lady with an even dottier name, Dorothy Crump. She became my musical ‘granny’ because in the 1960s I formed an orchestra at the age of 16, much the same as she had done after the First World War. She was immensely proud of the ‘professionals’ as we were called, those who went in to the music profession as conductors or players; Norman Del Mar was one, bassoonist William Waterhouse another. I can remember Del Mar guiding me through the wonders of Beethoven’s ninth one Sunday afternoon after Mrs Crump had rung me during the week and asked me to come and conduct the first three movements. Ted Downes also went to the ‘Crumpery’ as it was called, when he was a student at the RCM.

Many years later we met at Heathrow airport and travelled on the bus back to Victoria bus station; I had returned from a conducting engagement in Germany, he from further afield. I never forgot the interest he took in me, my career, our musical tastes, views of the business and general gossip. After we had shared our memories of our respectively different eras at the ‘Crumpery’ the subject turned to his great passion and love, Verdi; I was then Director of Music at University College London (Bloomsbury Theatre) and responsible for the annual outing of an operatic rarity (among which was the British staged premiere of Verdi’s Oberto in 1982, some time before Opera North did it). I loved the early and middle period Verdi operas and went on to conduct Giovanna D’Arco, Il Corsaro and Un giorno di regno. We discussed the non-standard repertoire works of Verdi at length (Jérusalem, the French version of I Lombardi was planned but eventually thwarted by the unavailability of the orchestral parts), and having an encyclopaedic knowledge of them all, he gave me a wonderful insight.

Back in 1993 he conducted Verdi’s Aroldo for Chelsea Opera Group, and was heard to say to the orchestra at the end of the morning dress rehearsal, ‘Enjoy yourselves this evening; don’t sit there scrubbing away like bank clerks’. As chorus master for the Group for several years I again met up with Ted in 2000 when he conducted our 50th anniversary concert. As it happens, the four items he conducted did not involve the chorus, but during the morning rehearsal on the South Bank, after they had sung ‘Patria oppressa’ from Verdi’s Macbeth under another conductor, he warned the chorus that it was singing a particular Italian word just wrong enough to turn it from something poetic into something lewd. He spared no-one’s sensitivity, ‘suona a morto ognor la squilla’ means ‘a bell always tolls for the dead’, but if you sing ‘suona a morto ognor la squillo’, it means ‘a call girl always rings for the dead’. One sensed that in fact they were not getting it wrong, but Ted wanted to get his funny, and I suspect oft-told, story in, come what may.

He will be sorely missed, probably more by us musicians than the general public. As no seeker of the limelight, he kept a far lower profile than some of his podium peacock colleagues, but those who mattered, his players and his singers, knew his worth as a man and musician.

Christopher Fifield 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.