Posted by: Jon

Facade - 11/01/10 10:12 PM

(I would have spelled it with the cedilla, but that's one of the characters that gets mangled in some text encoding systems.)

Yesterday I became a musical performer, for the first time in decades. I spoke the "Reciter" role in William Walton's Facade: An Entertainment at the University of Delaware. I had assembled the ensemble of students (both undergraduate and graduate: flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, percussion, and 2 cellos. And we'd been rehearsing weekly since early September.

It all came off very well; our conductor and instrumentalists did outstanding work, and I seem to have come off well, according to reports from students and colleagues. I did the 21 Edith Sitwell poems (notated with precise rhythm but no pitch) in my best attempt at a vaguely British accent -- the assonances and near-rhymes of the text seem to require it. And one item, "Scotch Rhapsody," I did in broad Scottish; our Glasgow-born composition professor heartily approved.

Does anyone here know this unique, amusing, atmospheric work?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Facade - 11/02/10 06:25 AM

"Cried the navy-blue ghost of Mr. Belaker The allegro negro [ahem!] cocktail-shaker ..."

Well, you know that I know it, Jon, and I can remember you reciting enormous chunks of it before/after our visit to the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. My only recording of it is the one with Edith Sitwell and Peter Pears, but you seemed to have listened to every known recording. I can't remember which was the one you thought was the best.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Facade - 11/02/10 07:57 PM

I'm not familiar with it. But then, Walton is a big question mark to me.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Facade - 11/03/10 08:34 PM

Actually, I wouldn't bother with anything else by Walton. Jon might disagree.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Facade - 11/04/10 07:18 AM

I know Andrew's opinion of all English composers between Elgar and Britten; he knows that I disagree.

I'm actually in the middle of reading a Walton biography while attending a musicology conference in Indianapolis. I know, one is supposed to do research before the performance; but I belatedly realized I knew very little about his life (and not that much about his other works, although those I know were likable enough). Despite the impression that he and Britten were bitter rivals, they were on reasonably good terms.

And Andrew, nobody in our audience (as far as I know) took any exception to the (dated, but not offensive) racial terminology in a few of the poems. They understand that poems written in 1922 will use the correct vocabulary of their time.

"Man must say farewells to parents now, and to William Tell and Mrs. Cow."

[This message has been edited by Jon (edited 06-29-2011).]
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Facade - 11/04/10 06:33 PM

Originally posted by Jon:
I know Andrew's opinion of all English composers between Elgar and Britten; he knows that I disagree.

Actually, there are a few things from that period that I like:

Constant Lambert: The Rio Grande
Vaughan Williams: The Wasps overture, The Lark Ascending
Walton: Portsmouth Point overture, the song "Wapping Old Stairs"

and the triple-time setting of "In summertime on Bredon" from A Shropshire Lad - can't remember who wrote the music. I don't think it was Vaughan Williams or Butterworth. Somervell? Peel?
Posted by: Jon

Re: Facade - 11/04/10 10:07 PM

Walton was good at those zippy short concert-opener pieces: Portsmouth Point, Scapino, Johannesburg Festival, Partita.

At the reception for the musicology conference that started today, I drank enough glasses of wine that I threw caution to the winds and recited all of "Scotch Rhapsody" from FaŤade for my friends. With the Scottish accent.

[This message has been edited by Jon (edited 11-20-2010).]
Posted by: Jon

Re: Facade - 11/20/10 06:50 AM

Here's one of the items from our performance: http://www.entertonement.com/clips/sztxcmzsvr--6-Tango-Pasodoble

And yes, the recording microphones in the hall didn't pick up all of my vocal amplification, so I'm a bit buried in the balance. There, I've said it and nobody else needs to.