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Songs of Quest and Inspiration

Robbert Muuse & Micha van Weers

Songs of Quest and Inspiration

Price: € 12.95
Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917252729
Catnr: CC 72527
Release date: 08 November 2011
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Label
Challenge Classics
UPC
0608917252729
Catalogue number
CC 72527
Release date
08 November 2011

"impressive performances"

Gramophone, 01-3-2012
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
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DE

About the album

Music history is often unfair to composers. Following his studies in Germany, Cyril Scott became known as the leader of the so-called “Frankfurt Group” of five British composers, including Percy Grainger and Roger Quilter, who “stood apart in outlook and education from the mainstream of the conservative British musical establishment”. Overall, he was a major figure in helping Britain to break away from Austro-Germanic musical hegemony. The famous conductor and composer Eugene Goossens even called him “The Father of Modern British Music;. Much to his own frustration, however, Scott became especially known as a successful composer of innumerable; short songs and piano pieces rather than for his serious compositions. By and large, he produced these;, as he called them, due to a contract that he signed with Elkin in 1904 and I suspect that the fact that he composed only four songs after 1930 had much to do with the ending of this arrangement. Ultimately, the main reasons for Scott’s dropping out from the British music establishment were his musical modernism and, in particular, his fascination with Occultism and Eastern philosophy, which increasingly influenced his musical style. By the 1940s, then, this cosmopolitan composer-pianist was everything but forgotten, though he would continue to compose and, indeed, to write numerous esoteric books, including his most famous Music: Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages (1933), until the end of his life. No doubt, the revival of interest in Scott’s music during recent decades finally does justice to this remarkable, albeit somewhat eccentric, composer.

Conversely, for a long time in music history, the dominant image of Ralph Vaughan Williams has been that of an English nationalist ‘folksong’ composer. Yet, he never claimed that his collecting of English folksongs, which he began in 1903, liberated his muse and by 1918, in fact, he had largely abandoned composition based on folksong. Furthermore, ironically, the piece that overall established “the supposed high priest of the pastoral” as a musical spokesman of the nation, A London Symphony (1913), was a tribute to what was then the world’s largest city! Likewise, his A Pastoral Symphony (1921) was inspired originally by the landscape of wartime France and not, as generally understood, by that of peacetime England. Fortunately, since recent research has challenged many of the myths surrounding Vaughan Williams’ oeuvre, there now is emerging an image of a distinct modernist composer, who commanded a wide range of musical styles.

Besides the familiar, well-known repertoire, Robbert Muuse and Micha van Weers challenge themselves to continuously explore the field of unknown works, forgotten or even forbidden songs that they deem worthy to be re-discovered and performed as new. This research led to their present collection of approximately 80 songs by Cyril Scott, that have unjustly remained unknown to our generation.

De onbekende Cyril Scott en liederen van Ralph Vaughan Williams
Dit album presenteert een selectie van zelden uitgevoerde liederen van de ondergewaardeerde 20e-eeuwse Engelse componist Cyril Scott, uitgevoerd door bariton Robbert Muuse en pianiste Micha van Weers. Enkele van deze liederen zijn nog nooit eerder opgenomen. Het album bevat ook de Songs of Travel en twee van de Five Mystical Songs van Ralph Vaughan Williams.

De fenomenale bariton Robbert Muuse en de veelzijdige pianiste Micha van Weers treden als duo regelmatig op in binnen- en buitenland. Met enige regelmaat verschijnen zij op internationale radio en televisie. Naast het standaard liedrepertoire is het duo altijd op zoek naar zeldzame, vergeten of zelfs verboden liederen. Dit leidde hen naar de liederen van Cyril Scott, die ten onrechte onbekend zijn gebleven.

Cyril Scott was een productieve componist en schreef ruim 400 werken. Veel van zijn muziek wordt echter maar zelden uitgevoerd, waaronder de 13 liederen op dit album. Hij was een belangrijk figuur in het doorbreken van de dominantie van de Austro-Germaanse muziek in Groot-Brittanië. De beroemde dirigent en componist Eugene Goossens noemde hem zelfs “de vader van de moderne Britse muziek”.
Ralph Vaughan Williams deed veel onderzoek naar Engelse volksmuziek, wat veel invloed had op zijn manier van componeren. Hij wordt hierdoor gezien als een sleutelfiguur in het Engels muzikaal nationalisme en wordt tegenwoordig gezien als een uitgesproken modernistische componist, die een breed scala aan muzikale stijlen beheerste.

Lied-Weltersteinspielungen von Cyril Scott

Außer dem vertrauten, wohl bekannten Repertoire fordern Robbert Muuse und Micha van Weers sich heraus, unaufhörlich das Feld von unbekannten Werken, vergessener oder sogar verbotenen Lieder zu erforschen, dass sie für würdig halten, wieder entdeckt und neu geführt zu werden. Diese Forschung führte zu einer Auswahl aus einer Sammlung von etwa 80 Liedern von Cyril Scott, die unserer Generation völlig zu unrecht unbekannt geblieben sind, ergänzt durch bekanntere Lieder von Vaughan Williams wie den Zyklus 'Songs of Travel'.

“As Cyril Scott’s son, I know he would be delighted that these songs are being recorded, for the first time on CD, by such accomplished performers as Robbert Muuse and Micha van Weers” - Desmond Scott

Artist(s)

Micha van Weers

The Dutch pianist Micha van Weers is versatile performer in different facets of chamber music. As a soloist she has focussed on twentieth-century Czech pianomusic, for which she has lived and studied in Prague. Beside playing solo and together with other instrumentalists, she has a special dedication to accompanying singers in song recitals. In many reviews Van Weers has been praised for her colourful play and great expressivity. She performed concerts, e.g. in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Kassel State Theatre, in Paris, Prague, Stuttgart, Salzburg. She made recordings for radio and television in the Netherlands and abroad; in 2011 her debut-CD was launched, with songs of Cyril Scott and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Besides the familiar, well-known repertoire, baritone Robbert Muuse and Micha van...
more
The Dutch pianist Micha van Weers is versatile performer in different facets of chamber music. As a soloist she has focussed on twentieth-century Czech pianomusic, for which she has lived and studied in Prague. Beside playing solo and together with other instrumentalists, she has a special dedication to accompanying singers in song recitals.
In many reviews Van Weers has been praised for her colourful play and great expressivity. She performed concerts, e.g. in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Kassel State Theatre, in Paris, Prague, Stuttgart, Salzburg. She made recordings for radio and television in the Netherlands and abroad; in 2011 her debut-CD was launched, with songs of Cyril Scott and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Besides the familiar, well-known repertoire, baritone Robbert Muuse and Micha van Weers challenge themselves to continuously explore the field of unknown works, forgotten or even forbidden songs that they deem worthy to be re-discovered and performed as new. This research led to their present collection of approximately 80 songs by Cyril Scott, that have unjustly remained unknown to our generation.

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Composer(s)

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams was an English composer and folk song collector. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over nearly fifty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century. He wrote many works for amateur and student performance. He was musically a late developer, not finding his true voice until his late thirties; his studies in 1907–08 with the French composer Maurice Ravel helped him clarify the textures of his music. Vaughan Williams is among the best-known British symphonists, noted for his very wide range of moods, from stormy and impassioned to...
more
Ralph Vaughan Williams was an English composer and folk song collector. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over nearly fifty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century.
He wrote many works for amateur and student performance. He was musically a late developer, not finding his true voice until his late thirties; his studies in 1907–08 with the French composer Maurice Ravel helped him clarify the textures of his music.
Vaughan Williams is among the best-known British symphonists, noted for his very wide range of moods, from stormy and impassioned to tranquil, from mysterious to exuberant. Among the most familiar of his other concert works are Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910) and The Lark Ascending (1914). His vocal works include hymns, folk-song arrangements and large-scale choral pieces. He wrote eight works for stage performance between 1919 and 1951. Although none of his operas became popular repertoire pieces, his ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing (1930) was successful and has been frequently staged.

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Cyril Scott

Cyril Scott (1879-1970) was truly one of the more remarkable men of his generation. Far ahead of his time in many ways, in others he was inescapably a product of the Victorian age in which he grew up. As John Ireland his friend and exact contemporary wrote to Scott in 1949 “You were the first British composer to write music which was non-academic, free and individual in style and of primary significance. Long before I could write anything in the least worthwhile you had made a great reputation in England and on the Continent”.   His music, though certainly the most important, is only one aspect of his enormously varied creative output. He wrote the lyrics for many of his songs and...
more
Cyril Scott (1879-1970) was truly one of the more remarkable men of his generation. Far ahead of his time in many ways, in others he was inescapably a product of the Victorian age in which he grew up. As John Ireland his friend and exact contemporary wrote to Scott in 1949 “You were the first British composer to write music which was non-academic, free and individual in style and of primary significance. Long before I could write anything in the least worthwhile you had made a great reputation in England and on the Continent”.
His music, though certainly the most important, is only one aspect of his enormously varied creative output. He wrote the lyrics for many of his songs and the libretti for his operas. He published forty books; on alternate medicine, ethics, religion, occultism, psychology, humour and music; wrote two autobiographies forty years apart and six volumes of poetry. Many of the books he wrote remain in print today and one trilogy in particular, The Initiate, written in the 1920s was optioned just recently for a film and continues to be translated into other languages, the latest being Swedish and Romanian.
In his staunch advocacy of alternate medicine decades before it became mainstream Scott was again ahead of his time. His poetry on the other hand is very much of the period, deeply romantic and infused throughout with a Pre-Raphaelite sensibility. In the same mode he designed some of his own furniture, trying, as he said, to make his lodgings look as much like a monastic cell as possible. More practically, he later devised a unique piano. It was a regular upright but with a sloping front replacing the lid to form a broad writing desk leaving him space beneath to play on and compose.
Aware that some people felt he was spreading himself too thin, he defended himself in his later biography Bone of Contention, (1969) by saying: “Holding the belief that the more subjects one can, within reason, become interested in, the less time and inclination one has to be unhappy, I will make no excuses for what the friends of my music call my versatility, and its detractors the dissipation of my energies (for) in a sad plight is the composer who has no sideline or pastime to turn to during those desolate periods when musical ideation gives out, leaving but that painful sense of emptiness and frustration so familiar to all creative artists.” Scott was born in Oxton, near Liverpool to a middle class family in 1879. As his son, I truly find it hard to realise that I’m intimately connected to someone who, as a student in Frankfurt heard Clara Schumann play and remembered his teachers taking the day off to go to Vienna for Brahms’ funeral. He was born into a world we wouldn’t recognise today, except through costume dramas on the BBC. It was a world of the horse and carriage and cobbled streets, a world without cars, planes, radio, TV, computers, CDs or the Internet. The last time I saw him we sat in front of the TV together and he watched a man land on the moon. That’s quite a change in one lifetime! Scott’s father was a businessman involved in shipping whose chief interest was the study of Greek. His mother played the piano “with a certain superficial brilliance, and had even written a waltz which somehow got into print.” (Bone of Contention) As a young child he was abnormally sensitive and precocious, bursting into tears at any music that affected him.
He played the piano almost before he could talk, picking out tunes from the barrel organs heard in the street outside. When he was 12 his parents sent him to the Conservatory in Frankfurt to study piano where he was the youngest pupil accepted up to that time. He stayed there for eighteen months, came home, decided he was more interested in composition than in teaching or being a concert pianist and returned to the Conservatory when he was not quite 17. There at one time or another he met Norman O’Neill, Balfour Gardiner, Roger Quilter and the one he remained closest to, Percy Grainger, the five musicians becoming collectively known as the Frankfurt Group. Grainger became not only an especially good friend but also a tireless advocate of Scott’s music, playing his compositions, in particular the Sonata No. 1, all over the world. He was also extraordinarily generous to him. During WWII, having earlier become an American citizen and with restrictions on taking money out of the country, he insisted that Scott be given all his British royalties and after the war lent him his cottage in Pevensey Bay rent-free for two and a half years. Success came early for Scott. His First Symphony was performed in Darmstadt in 1901 and his Second under Henry Wood in London two years later.
It took one hundred years, though, before his next Symphony, The Muses, had its first hearing in 2003! For the first quarter of the last century he was in the forefront of modern British composers, hailed by Eugene Goossens as ‘the father of modern British music’ and admired by men as diverse as Elgar, Debussy, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. By the time he died in 1970, however, he was remembered by the general public for little more than Lotus Land (1905) and small piano pieces such as Water Wagtail (1910), which at one time, according to Lewis Foreman, was used as the signature tune to the Test Match broadcasts on the BBC! What caused such a sharp decline is hard to assess. Musical tastes change. Avant garde can easily become vieux jeu. Maybe Scott’s highly individual style, which to listeners more accustomed to the work of Stanford and Parry would initially have appeared radical and ‘modern’, began to seem dated. Or, maybe Diana Swann was right when in a perceptive article for the British Music Society in 1996 she wrote, “ ... Perhaps too much hope was pinned on him at a point when England’s fading Imperial importance craved a compensatory and valuable place in European music.” Another possibility, as she noted, was that after WWI, “English music was encouraged to progress only along the folksong/Tudor revival/Christian agnostic path” and the new composers finding favour had all been trained at the Royal College or Academy of Music.

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Press

impressive performances
Gramophone, 01-3-2012

Play album Play album
01.
Song of London, op. 52, no. 1
01:42
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
02.
Blackbird?s Song, op. 52, no. 3
02:57
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
03.
Sundown
03:19
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
04.
To-Morrow
02:02
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
05.
Water-Lilies
01:52
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
06.
Time O?Day (O. Macnaghten) (1919)
01:29
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
07.
Ballad of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel, op. 8
03:58
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
08.
Picnic, op. 46, no. 2
02:22
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
09.
An Eastern Lament, op. 62, no. 3
02:07
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
10.
A Song of Wine, op. 46, no. 3
02:34
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
11.
Prelude, op. 57, no.1
01:42
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
12.
Have Ye Seen Him Pass By?
02:47
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
13.
The Huckster
01:45
(Cyril Scott) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
14.
Five Mystical Songs: Easter
04:32
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
15.
Five Mystical Songs: Love bade me welcome
05:09
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
16.
Songs of Travel: The Vagabond
03:08
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
17.
Songs of Travel: Let beauty awake
01:58
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
18.
Songs of Travel: The Roadside Fire
02:22
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
19.
Songs of Travel: Youth and Love
03:30
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
20.
Songs of Travel: In Dreams
02:29
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
21.
Songs of Travel: The infinite shining heavens
02:22
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
22.
Songs of Travel: Whither must I wander
04:16
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
23.
Songs of Travel: Bright is the ring of words
02:02
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
24.
Songs of Travel: I have trod the upward and the downward slope
02:18
(Ralph Vaughan Williams) Robbert Muuse, Micha van Weers
show all tracks

Videos

Robbert Muuse & Micha van Weers - Blackbird's Song, op. 52, no. 3
Robbert Muuse & Micha van Weers - To-Morrow (Chr. Rossetti)

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