Tuesday, January 9, 2018

English suites no. 18

This entry is not a retelling of ancient music. It's pastiche. It's the musical facet of a 1950s scrub-brush-clean image of medieval or Renaissance times.

William Walton began his career in the 1920s as a continentally-oriented urbane sophisticate of a composer. He was the kind of person who hung out with the Sitwells, and indeed his most famous early work was a setting of Edith's verse.

But later his image changed to something more insular and home-grown. It may have been the exceedingly popular heartily English march Walton wrote for the coronation of George VI in 1937 that inspired Laurence Olivier to commission Walton to create the music for all three of Olivier's epic Shakespeare films of 1944-55.

The Shakespeare Suite (so titled by the conductor who put it together a few years later: Walton held that film music should stay in films) is a compilation from the incidental music to Olivier's Richard III from 1955. At most it's pseudo-Shakespearean, a major part of what marks the movie as a product of its time. But it's good stuff. It follows an epic and rather long prelude, mostly taken from the title music, which you can go back and listen to also if you like. But it's the suite that has the charm I'm looking for in this series. This is a rather broader and calmer performance than the one on the soundtrack.

The movements are titled: Fanfare (7:44), Music Plays (8:22), The Princes in the Tower (10:18), With Drums and Colours (13:14), I Would I Knew Thy Heart (14:38), and Trumpets Sound (18:28).

No comments:

Post a Comment