Hamilton Harty, Vol. I = BRAHMS; CLARKE; DAVIES; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV; MUSSORGSKY; WEINBERGER; more – Historical-Rec.

by | Aug 5, 2011 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Hamilton Harty, Vol. I = BRAHMS: Hungarian Dances 5-6; CLARKE: Trumpet Voluntary; DAVIES: Solemn Melody; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Capriccio Espagnole; Flight of the Bumble Bee; MUSSORGSKY: Khovantschina: Prelude;  WEINBERGER: Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper; BERLIOZ: King Lear Overture; Trojan March; HAYDN: Symphony No. 95 in C Minor – Halle Orchestra of Manchester/ London Symphony Orchestra (Weinberger, Berlioz, Haydn)/ Sir Hamilton Harty – Historical-Recordings HRCD 0057, 70:24 [www.historical-recordings.co.uk] ****:
Hamilton Harty (1879-1941) stands virtually supreme among Northern Ireland’s multi-faceted musicians and composers, a pianist and conductor of exceptional gifts. Historical-Recordings resuscitates a series of Harty’s electrical inscriptions, 1926-1935, each of which testifies to the energetic glamour that Harty could bring even to hackneyed familiar scores.  Harty’s repute in Berlioz, however, elicited much-earned praise in his own time and certainly persists in the annals of that composer’s especial interpreters.
After two rousing Hungarian Dances, the Clarke Voluntary for trumpet, organ, and orchestra also from 1926 conveys the requisite pomp and ceremony to warrant repeated hearings. Davies’ Solemn Melody has Harty’s 2 May 1927 recording to memorialize it. The tempo changes radically for the Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio Espagnole (11 February 1929), a performance of brisk tempo but equally sensuous rounded periods and focused insistence on vivid orchestral colors, including the requisite expert violin, harp, viola, and castanets. The fiery idiom of the music has rarely been matched, except in a more modern era by George Szell and his Cleveland Orchestra. The rhythms sachet and whirl in illumined colors well belying the age of the original shellacs, here restored by Norman Field and Alan Bunting. If you are wearing a toupee while listening, you’d be advised to glue it on more tightly. The remainder of the brilliant program has been remastered by Bill Anderson. Both the dramatically expansive Mussorgsky Prelude and the rambunctiously virtuosic Flight of the Bumble Bee date from the 24 June 1929 sessions in Manchester.
The series of LSO inscriptions begins with the 12 March 1934 Weinberger selection, a dazzling orchestral showpiece from the 1927 opera Mitropoulos used to champion. Harty has the LSO rather hustling through its colorful pages, the brass, battery, and woodwinds in fine fettle. The 1831 King Lear Overture (rec. 12 March 1934)–composed by Berlioz as an alternative to the literal assassination of his fiancé Camille Moke!–makes a striking impression, and this performance–along with those by Beecham and Mitropoulos and the NBC–invests a pungently dynamic ferocity into the conception as Lear and his daughters broker for power in the realm. The low strings–their influence from Beethoven oft noted–add an undercurrent of inflamed frenzy to the entire enterprise.  Sudden interjections by brass and metric shifts each contribute to the dissolution of both Lear’s mental state and the status of his royal power. The last pages under Harty exhibit all of the apocalyptic forces we might associate with the Dies Irae of the Requiem. The Trojan March–long a Beecham lollipop–vibrates with ceremonial energies. Great trumpet work, supported by clean colors in cymbals and strings. The string work elicits the same kind of infernal potency as the Ride to the Abyss in The Damnation of Faust.
The 1791 Haydn Symphony No. 95 in C Minor from 16 October 1935 plays for its clean directness of statement and the forcefully etched contour of Haydn’s motives.  The work opens without any slow introduction, so whatever serenity can emerge from the sturm und drang of the C Minor first movement derives from the learned transition to C Major at the close. The heart of the symphony lies in its theme-and-variations Andante in E-flat Major. Harty lays out the variants with studied, light deftness and wonderful legato. The Menuetto has an almost savage cast about it, a step away from Dvorak’s Plains Indians. The trio, a spirited cello solo over a pizzicato, has a limpid ethos all its own. The C Major last movement Vivace invites Harty’s natural capacity as an arbiter for counterpoint in all its glory. The LSO bassoon has much to say in the course of this spirited reading.
— Gary Lemco
 

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