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Peter Clark

Peter Maxwell Davies

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Does anybody play Maxwell Davies' organ music? He hasn't written that much, but there is a remarkably complex and difficult organ sonata (recorded I think by Kevin Bowyer) as well as some shorter (and, frankly, much easier) works. His fantasia (I think) on O Magnum Mysterium is also quite complex. I play his 3 Organ Voluntaries and have just bought 2 Organ Pieces.

 

I have always been a fan of his. When I first heard St Thomas Wake I was knocked out - and then someone gave me his first symphony (conducted by Rattle) for Christmas about 20 years ago. Then I saw at the RFH Vesilae Icones (I think that's how you spell it). His current work includes a series of string quartets comissioned by the Naxos label.

 

Anyway, just curious as to whether others share my enthusiasm or indeed play any of his stuff.

 

Cheers

 

Peter

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Does anybody play Maxwell Davies' organ music? He hasn't written that much, but there is a remarkably complex and difficult organ sonata (recorded I think by Kevin Bowyer) as well as some shorter (and, frankly, much easier) works. His fantasia (I think) on O Magnum Mysterium is also quite complex. I play his 3 Organ Voluntaries and have just bought 2 Organ Pieces.

 

I have always been a fan of his. When I first heard St Thomas Wake I was knocked out - and then someone gave me his first symphony (conducted by Rattle) for Christmas about 20 years ago. Then I saw at the RFH Vesilae Icones (I think that's how you spell it). His current work includes a series of string quartets comissioned by the Naxos label.

 

Anyway, just curious as to whether others share my enthusiasm or indeed play any of his stuff.

 

Cheers

 

Peter

 

 

I used to know (quite well) one of his singers in 'The Fires of London'. In those days, PM-D was a freely confessed diabolist, (allegedly) sleeping every night upon a coffin. This rather put me off him - a bit like Wagner's practice (apparently) of lying nude upon a velvet couch having scent sprayed over him in order to get inspiration. I have several M-D scores (bought for the sake of completeness) and have tried them out; but as with so much contemporary music, where (outside a university) would one ever find an audience to listen to them?

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I used to know (quite well) one of his singers in 'The Fires of London'. In those days, PM-D was a freely confessed diabolist, (allegedly) sleeping every night upon a coffin. This rather put me off him - a bit like Wagner's practice (apparently) of lying nude upon a velvet couch having scent sprayed over him in order to get inspiration. I have several M-D scores (bought for the sake of completeness) and have tried them out; but as with so much contemporary music, where (outside a university) would one ever find an audience to listen to them?

 

 

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

 

 

Apart from "Sir," what does one call someone who sleeps INSIDE a coffin?

 

I used to sleep with a boffin, and I'm sure that has a name too, but I can't think of it at the moment.

 

And talking of Boffin, I had an ex-army partner who was delightfully dim in many ways, but he neverthless solved the mystery of the word 'boffin'.

 

With impressive logic, he suggested that the term derived from two sources during WW2, when technical people were often referred to as "brain boxes." He then explained that in the military, the term 'box' was used to describe a coffin. So a 'brain-box' was a 'boffin."

 

Would someone please kindly inform the Oxford full English dictionary?

 

MM

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as with so much contemporary music, where (outside a university) would one ever find an audience to listen to them?

The imagery of sleeping on a coffin . . . what can one say? It must be a joke!

 

Anyway, St George's Windsor is where he is listened to . . . by the Queen on her birthday. One had to comment that "The Golden Rule" was not the most obvious composition for a happy occasion, and it left the Choristers who sang it most perplexed . . . and one might surmise what HM might have said in private, but by the next time it was performed, it was the full version with orchestra and it made more sense - a good deal of sense - and merited further listening. In fact quite superb!

 

Perhaps not the most obvious composition to encourage the young generation in classical music either: perhaps that might be his next challenge? By the way, I saw some mention of someone asking "how many of the nightclub generation are there here?" Has anyone any idea of the answer?

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Perhaps not the most obvious composition to encourage the young generation in classical music either: perhaps that might be his next challenge?

I think he's been there, done that, got the tee-shirt years ago. Wasn't he a music teacher in Cirencester or somewhere like that - or am I totally confusing him with someone else?

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By the way, I saw some mention of someone asking "how many of the nightclub generation are there here?" Has anyone any idea of the answer?

Well, I'll stand up and be counted. B)

 

Actually, I'm probably the oldest in the night club, so not strictly the night club generation, but I get away with it! B)

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I think he's been there, done that, got the tee-shirt years ago. Wasn't he a music teacher in Cirencester or somewhere like that - or am I totally confusing him with someone else?

 

Yes - Cirencester Grammar School.

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I play his 3 Organ Voluntaries

I picked these up last year in a secondhand bookshop in Ashburton (of all places). My impression of them is that they would probably only make sense on a classically voiced organ. They certainly don't work on my toaster.

 

I remember a year or two back seeing what looked like an autograph score of something or other by Max lying around in the organ loft at Rochester. It looked substantial and in no way sight-readable, but I can't remember what it was. The sonata maybe?

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I picked these up last year in a secondhand bookshop in Ashburton (of all places). My impression of them is that they would probably only make sense on a classically voiced organ. They certainly don't work on my toaster.

 

I remember a year or two back seeing what looked like an autograph score of something or other by Max lying around in the organ loft at Rochester. It looked substantial and in no way sight-readable, but I can't remember what it was. The sonata maybe?

 

One of his "2 Organ Pieces", Veni Creator Spiritus, was premiered in Rochester Cathedral in 2002, but this is a short work (just three pages). The Sonata it could have been, or possibly the Fantasia on O Magnum Mysterium which, like the Sonata, is highly complex. I agree with you on the choice of organfor the Voluntaries; I first platd them on a two-manual Walker extension from 1967 or thereabouts.

 

Peter

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I picked these up last year in a secondhand bookshop in Ashburton (of all places). My impression of them is that they would probably only make sense on a classically voiced organ. They certainly don't work on my toaster.

 

Try them on a Bellini brushed steel model, with integral crumb filter - they sound magnificent.

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Allan Wicks premiered "O maximum hysterium". He told me that he practised it for a year and was certain that he could play all of the very complex rhythms correctly. He then played it for "Max", who said, "Oh very good! But you must play it much more freely!"

 

Cheers

B

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Allan Wicks premiered "O maximum hysterium". He told me that he practised it for a year and was certain that he could play all of the very complex rhythms correctly. He then played it for "Max", who said, "Oh very good! But you must play it much more freely!"

 

Cheers

B

I was reminded of this tale whilst reading the recent biography of Malcolm Williamson. MW wrote a large-scaled Organ Sonata for Allan Wicks and pretty much said the same thing after AW had practised it for ages and then performed it with the composer present. The actual quote was along the lines of ".. play it more freely, like Brahms!"

 

Could this have really happened twice to poor Allan or have you mixed up your Masters of the Queens Musick, Barry?.. :)

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Not directly relevant really, I haven't come across any of his organ music but did attend a touring production of his opera "The Lighthouse" here in Cheltenham some years ago. I member this as being a splendid piece.

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I have the Two Pieces - fairly recent publication and quite readily found on most good music shop shelves these days - "Veni Creator spiritus" and "Reliqui Domum meum." I've only played the former piece once, when I was Organist at Clifton College and getting a bit disillusioned with the levels of chatter in Chapel. It was high time to give them something to chatter about!

 

"Reliqui" is not a particularly remarkable piece but I have had greater mileage out of it: at Compline Services in Clifton Chapel, preamble (or postludes) at Bath Abbey, even put it into a recital at the Building of Bath Museum (intriguing historic instrument with a few bugs in the system due to age - http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...c_index=D05738).

 

It is quite accessible, not perhaps as much as Max's two piano pieces "Farewell to Stromness" and "Yesnaby Ground" but still enough that one can risk putting it out there without causing Joe and Jane Recital-Goer to riot! It doesn't even need pedals, so in theory you could do it even with only a harmonium or Casio...

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