Tag Archives: music

Unknown Beethoven symphony discovered!

I heard a new — to me — piece of music the other evening, It was on ClassicFM‘s rather lovely ‘The Full Works‘, the late evening show which plays whole pieces, rather than the shorter snippets featured during the day. The piece was clearly (to my admittedly untutored ears) Beethoven, and symphonic, but, familiar as I am with Beethoven’s symphonies, I’d never heard it before, and couldn’t place it. The use of horns was typically Beethovian, the woodwind was very Beethovian, the strings were quite Beethovian, and the structure of the piece itself was absolutely Beethovian. No doubt about it, it was a Beethovian piece. But what was it?

As soon as I could, I pulled the car over and parked at the side of the road, whipped out my trusty Nokia N95, and used ClassicFM’s useful, if appallingly inaccessible and not really mobile- friendly, on-line playlist to check what it was. And it wasn’t Beethoven at all. To my surprise, it was Georges Bizet‘s Symphony In C Major. Remarkably, it was written as a student exercise in 1855, when he was just 16, and lay forgotten and unperformed until it was rediscovered in 1935. You’d never tell, if you heard this impressive work.

Well worth seeking out, I reckon. Especially if you like Beethoven.

Daughters of Albion review

Here’s my review of the Daughters of Albion at Birmingham Town Hall.

You can see more of my reviews, on the same site, ‘Birmingham Alive!’.

Update: Link expired; sorry. Here’s the original text:

Town Hall
27/04/08
folk

I was really looking forward to this concert — and I was really disappointed by it.

It seemed shambolic and amateurish and the over-long changes between each song meant that it lost what little atmosphere it had had.

June Tabor, a singer for whom adequate superlatives simply do not exist, was sorely under-used — but not as much so as Martin Carthy, who spent most of the evening as the best-seated spectator in the venue. Presumably, he was only there because his wife Norma Waterson was in the line-up. Apart from the opening number, Tabor took part in none of the evening’s collaborations. Indeed, though she appeared on stage for the encore, she bizarrely refused to sing, standing mute and looking lost; something her fellow performers seemed to find amusing, unlike your reviewer, who frankly thought it insulting to the audience. Even so, her performances, with Huw Warren‘s piano accompaniment, were among the evening’s few highlights.

Also worthy of mention was the understated accompaniment from musical director Kate St John (late of the Dream Academy), especially her oboe playing, and her small band of backing musicians. For the most part, the contributions from Lou Rhodes and Lisa Knapp were insubstantial, lacklustre or — performing a much-anticipated cover of Kate Bush‘s This Woman’s Work — unbearably shrill. Kathryn Williams‘s rambling and apologetic introductions were, frankly, embarrassing. Bishi, a replacement for Sheila Chandra‘s role in the 2006 concerts under the same banner, was a poor substitute.

The impression given was that the whole under-rehearsed event was being treated as a bit of fun for the performers. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but surely not at the expense of the enjoyment of the audience.