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Howells G Major Service


nfortin
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I've just been working up the accompaniment to Howells G Major mag & nunc, which I've not played before. The copy I have, and I guess there's only one edition, is a Stainer & Bell. I'm wondering whether the "Big" chord that comes just before "world without end" on page 15 of my copy is a misprint. This is the chord with the E flat in the Bass, as printed there is a C flat in the left hand and a C natural in the right hand. To my ears this sounds horrible! Does anyone know if its a misprint?

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I've just been working up the accompaniment to Howells G Major mag & nunc, which I've not played before. The copy I have, and I guess there's only one edition, is a Stainer & Bell. I'm wondering whether the "Big" chord that comes just before "world without end" on page 15 of my copy is a misprint. This is the chord with the E flat in the Bass, as printed there is a C flat in the left hand and a C natural in the right hand. To my ears this sounds horrible! Does anyone know if its a misprint?

From memory, the chord should be A flat major with the added G flat and an E flat in the bass.

 

A

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I've just been working up the accompaniment to Howells G Major mag & nunc

 

To my ears this sounds horrible! Does anyone know if its a misprint?

 

 

=============================

 

 

This is what I've been saying about Howells for years!

 

:)

 

MM

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Guest Cynic
=============================

This is what I've been saying about Howells for years!

 

:)

 

MM

 

I will agree with anyone who says Howells' music is not all wonderful, far from it. In fact Howells would have agreed too. In his later years he really had to work at it! Even so, if I'd only composed one work and that work was was 'Like as the hart' or Mag and Nunc Coll Reg (or St.Paul's) or New College, well I'd die a happy man.

 

Those people who can't stand composers and keep telling us (no disrespect MM!) well, can they do better?

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Those people who can't stand composers and keep telling us (no disrespect MM!) well, can they do better?

 

 

=========================

 

 

How do any of us make value judgements other than by the way we react instinctively; perhaps shaped by what we have encountered in our respective musical journeys?

 

It's quite interesting that Paul delights in a piece of music which I detest: "Like as the hart."

 

I feel much the same way about most English music, but not quite all; finding Elgar a far finer composer than Wagner, for instance. I also admire the music of Arthur Sullivan, yet remain fairly indifferent to music by Benjamin Britten. In fact, were it not for "A ceremony of carols" and "The hymn to the virgin," I think I would have dismissed Britten as just another English composer.

 

The one outstanding exception is possibly Sir William Walton, the music of whom for which I have the very highest regard.

 

As in all personal "value judgements," ciriticism says at least as much about the critic as it does about the object of criticism; at least within certain accepted parameters. Consequently, my utter revulsion of all things to do with Wagner or Howells is something which is as amusing to myself, as it often is to others.

 

How many people could be persuaded to attend Wagner's "Ring cycle" and yet hear only the opening bars and the end, with all that din going on? I did! In fact, the only thing I took home were the bruises, when people started trampling all over my feet during the interval.

 

As for doing something better I would first have to find the motivation to do anything at all, for the simple reason that writing down music is a painstaking chore to me, and in any event, I am far too mercurial of mind ever to sit down in one place for very long. Additionally, I am deeply suspicious of most things religious, enjoy a healthy (rather than destructive) Christian-agnosticism, and would regard the Anglican Church as yesterday's voice of reason.

 

So on that basis, the answer would have to be, "No."

 

:)

 

MM

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Those people who can't stand composers and keep telling us (no disrespect MM!) well, can they do better?
Well, I'm confident most of us could do better than Caleb Simper. :) However I realise that's not what you meant. As far as composers of the stature of Howells is concerned it would be remarkable if we could. The main thing I learnt from lessons with him is that I'm not a composer! (Not that he ever said so, of course.)

 

However, I don't see why such considerations should prevent us expressing an opinion. Critical faculties and creative faculties are different things and one can have the first without the second. Indeed, much of the old "O" and "A" level syllabuses were grounded on developing the former. I agree, though, that it's all too easy to end up looking a complete prat. Not MM, who always writes carefully, but I do think that it would be no bad thing if those who express strident opinions about their own particular hobby-horses were held up to a similar level of criticism themselves. A bit of realism and objectivity never comes amiss.

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On the subject of (possible) misprints in Howells, one thing that has always bothered me is in the Nunc of the St Paul's Service - specifically the first chord of the last bar of page 22, where the altos' A flat is tied over, but the organ moves from A flat to G. Did he really mean that, or is one of those two things wrong?

 

If anyone has inside info about this, and can shed light on it before Sunday's broadcast, that would be much appreciated.

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On the subject of (possible) misprints in Howells, one thing that has always bothered me is in the Nunc of the St Paul's Service - specifically the first chord of the last bar of page 22, where the altos' A flat is tied over, but the organ moves from A flat to G. Did he really mean that, or is one of those two things wrong?

 

If anyone has inside info about this, and can shed light on it before Sunday's broadcast, that would be much appreciated.

Altos should move from Ab to G

 

A

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Adrian,

 

 

can I just say that I think its marvellous that a person of your stature takes the time to reply, and so swiftly, to queries of this nature. Particularly so when the initial query came from someone who, it is fair to say, has not been your stongest supporter on these message boards (ie. me).

 

Many thanks

 

 

Neil

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I will agree with anyone who says Howells' music is not all wonderful, far from it. In fact Howells would have agreed too. In his later years he really had to work at it! Even so, if I'd only composed one work and that work was was 'Like as the hart' or Mag and Nunc Coll Reg (or St.Paul's) or New College, well I'd die a happy man.

 

Those people who can't stand composers and keep telling us (no disrespect MM!) well, can they do better?

 

I have to agree with you here, Paul. The 1917 setting in G major is one of the most stunning services which I get to play - for me the Gloria of the Magnificat even eclipses in effect that of the Collegium Regale setting.

 

Incidentally, Adrian is correct - my copy at that point is page 13, but there is an erroneus C-flat there, too. Presumably Stainer and Bell were not appraised of the error before issuing reprints.

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Adrian,

can I just say that I think its marvellous that a person of your stature takes the time to reply, and so swiftly, to queries of this nature. Particularly so when the initial query came from someone who, it is fair to say, has not been your stongest supporter on these message boards (ie. me).

 

Many thanks

Neil

You're welcome

 

A

 

Thanks, Adrian.

If I might ask, is this just "custom & practice", or is there evidence?

 

Douglas.

I think it's just accepted as being a misprint...

 

A

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I have to agree with you here, Paul. The 1917 setting in G major is one of the most stunning services which I get to play - for me the Gloria of the Magnificat even eclipses in effect that of the Collegium Regale setting.

 

Incidentally, Adrian is correct - my copy at that point is page 13, but there is an erroneus C-flat there, too. Presumably Stainer and Bell were not appraised of the error before issuing reprints.

Its not a service that has stuck in my memory, and I must say that I've found the accompaniment alone to be rather dull and uninspiring to learn (though, thankfully, very straightforward), so I look forward to hearing it with the choir (RSCM Cathedral Singers in Tewkesbury Abbey) tomorrow.

 

Anyway, thats 2-0 in favour of A flat 7th for the big chord which certainly sounds better than whats printed. (Actually I find it almost impossible to play the chord with both C flat and C natural as printed, something in my brain or fingers rebels against it. Change it to either A flat minor 7th or A flat major 7th and it becomes easy)

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Its not a service that has stuck in my memory, and I must say that I've found the accompaniment alone to be rather dull and uninspiring to learn (though, thankfully, very straightforward), so I look forward to hearing it with the choir (RSCM Cathedral Singers in Tewkesbury Abbey) tomorrow.

 

The accompaniment is fairly, err, standard. With the choir, there are some good bits, notably the world without end/amen from the mag, but it's not Howells at his most inspirational.

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Unfirtunately I don't have the score in front of me but I always suspected a misprint on page 4 of Harris's Behold the Tabernacle of God (RSCM); at the point where "with a season of festivity" starts there is a strange clump of a chord quite out of keeping with the harmonic language of the rest of the piece. It seems to be an odd mixture of Aflat major and Eflat major with, if I remeber, a Dflat somewhere thrown in. Any thoughts?

 

Peter

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I've just been working up the accompaniment to Howells G Major mag & nunc, which I've not played before. The copy I have, and I guess there's only one edition, is a Stainer & Bell. I'm wondering whether the "Big" chord that comes just before "world without end" on page 15 of my copy is a misprint. This is the chord with the E flat in the Bass, as printed there is a C flat in the left hand and a C natural in the right hand. To my ears this sounds horrible! Does anyone know if its a misprint?
There can be no doubt it's a misprint. A simultaneous major and minor chord is quite out of the question, I think, for the generally plain harmonic idiom of Howells's early music (though not for what I think of as his "third period" from the late 60s onwards). Both Cs must be either natural or flat. C flat is perfectly logical in that it then serves as a pivot note with the B natural of the next chord. However, to my mind the matter is settled conclusively by the two chords before the start of the Gloria. These show that the A flat chord must have C naturals.
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Unfirtunately I don't have the score in front of me but I always suspected a misprint on page 4 of Harris's Behold the Tabernacle of God (RSCM); at the point where "with a season of festivity" starts there is a strange clump of a chord quite out of keeping with the harmonic language of the rest of the piece. It seems to be an odd mixture of Aflat major and Eflat major with, if I remeber, a Dflat somewhere thrown in. Any thoughts?
I can't claim any inside knowledge, but I'm positive he meant every note of it. More often than not Harris's harmonic idiom is very ordinary, or at least uncomplicated, but he also loved the scrunchiness of suspensions and occasionally he ventured into quite complex chromaticism, as for example in Faire is the heaven and the beautifully evocative Evening Hymn. The latter in particular is harmonically much more complex than Harris in his parish church (or weekday Evensong) mode and you'll find chords like the one you cite there in abundance. So I think that scrunchy chord is just Harris being indulgent.
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