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Taking Stock

 
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Jason Evans



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:13 am    Post subject: Taking Stock Reply with quote

One of our prominent contributors, lancecornea, has recommended the memoir "Taking Stock" by Humphrey Clucas. Certainly the name will be familiar to other members of this forum for obvious reasons. The book is a terrific read and I second Lance's recommendation.

Clucas gets his digs in on music he cares little for ( Nicholson in Db for example) and writes interestingly about his experience with the Westminster Abbey choir under Martin Neary. (The Princess Di funeral is particularly -and predictably- titillating in its expose.)

Four pages before the end, Clucas throws in his trump card:

"... one cannot possibly listen to the [Bach] B minor , or Spem in alium , or look at Chartres Cathedral, and imagine that these things are based on a delusion. Rationally, they might be; but one's whole being cries out against it."

This has overwhelming resonance for me. Certain members of this forum know that I very deeply admire Elgar's choral works. Yet a recent essay by Carl Newton attempted to throw things into a different light. Well written indeed, but it misses the point.

" Gerontius was just as much a British export as a Dorman Long rolled-steel joist, or a ton of Welsh steam coal. Like them it was a high-quality product, skilfully marketed, making a valuable contribution to the balance of payments. The real reason Elgar abandoned religious music [post The Kingdom ] was that it no longer paid." The author goes on to quote a letter backing him up.

Perhaps. Elgar needed to make a living as we all do. Call me too young and too naive, but I cannot accept that Gerontius (and the subsequent choral works) were not written from the heart as an honest believer.

Back to the Clucas quote, may I assume other members have joined this forum because they feel the same way? Comments would be welcome, but don't nitpick me on the Elgar. It was only an example from my personal experience.
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lancecornea



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 526
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes Jason, I agree. And William Alwyn who was professor of composition at the Royal Academy from 1926-1955 states that "....Elgar's setting (of Gerontius)... was the expression of a deep rooted and sincere conviction in Catholic Christianity".
Hardly a means to earn a few bob!
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