Overlooked Orpheans

STUART MILLSON enjoys some neglected gems of British music Why does the spiritual toll of the Great War seem to have been harsher for Britain than for any of the other European combatants, asks organist, scholar, music-writer Robert James Stove, in commentary for a booklet which accompanies a new CD on the Australian Ars Organi…

Sinfonia sparkle for austerity December

An American in Paris STUART MILLSON is transported to a warmer sound-world Any sense of malaise, austerity or winter gloom in London was dispelled for two hours (for those fortunate to be in attendance) by the Sinfonia of London’s 2nd December performance of Walton, Ravel, Dutilleux and Gershwin at the Barbican. Much praised by the…

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile”

STUART MILLSON can hear Restoration London from 21st century Kent Music@Malling, planned and organised by classical musician and educator, Thomas Kemp, is one of those provincially-based, smaller festivals which succeeds in bringing performers of national and international standing to local and semi-rural settings. So, instead of having to travel to Kings Place, Wigmore Hall, or…

Summer with the Sinfonia

Tintagel. Photo: Chris Gunn. Wikimedia Commons STUART MILLSON enjoys a super-orchestra’s seasonal offerings The re-formed Sinfonia of London (a recording and film-score orchestra of the 1960s) appeared at the Proms on Saturday 16th July under the baton of the ever-popular John Wilson, for a concert of music by British composers. The programme was made up…

An Agincourt for our age

STUART MILLSON enjoys seeing Shakespeare’s Henry V brutally updated The year is 1415... Trumpets sound at the Globe Theatre; Olivier draws his sword and heroically sets forth to ‘the vasty fields of France’ where English arms and chivalry triumph, and a youthful English king wins the hand of France’s fair princess, Katherine... That is the…

John Pritchard – master of sonorities

STUART MILLSON recalls an unjustly overlooked conductor The early 1980s was a vintage time for British orchestral music. Gennady Rozhdestvensky was halfway into his term (1978-1982) as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a position which brought great kudos to the ensemble – Rozhdestvensky recording and performing Tchaikovsky ballet music, and venturing into the…

The battle for the soul of a Kentish village

Credit: Shutterstock STUART MILLSON reports from semi-rural England The earliest settlement to have occupied the ground that we now know as East Malling, Kent, is thought to have been Roman, although who knows what band of ancient Britons wandered and settled the area before the Legions and arrow-straight roads came to our shores. Fragments of…

England’s musical Shakespeare

Henry Purcell STUART MILLSON gives a glimpse into the life of Henry Purcell Henry Purcell (1659-95) is forever associated with the birth of opera (or masques) in England – works such as King Arthur and The Fairy Queen - the creation of semi-operatic scenic cantatas, like his music for The Tempest, and with expansive works…

Cornysh, Campion, Dowland: England’s sweet songsmiths

STUART MILLSON dives into old English ‘ayrs’ There is a persistent idea that English music only really got going with Parry and Elgar, but four centuries earlier William Cornysh, Thomas Campion and John Dowland had possessed national and European reputations. William Cornysh was one of England’s leading Tudor composers, gaining the attention and then patronage…