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HALLE BRUCH VIOLIN CONCERTO NO.l RECORDED 1925 MENDELSSOHN SYMPHONY N0.4, ‘ITALIAN’ RECORDED 1931 HEBRIDES OVERTURE RECORDED 1941 WORLD PREMIERE RELEASES ON CD SIR HAMILTON HARTY SIR MALCOLM SARGENT ALBERT SAMMONS

Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

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Page 1: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

HALLE BRUCH VIOLIN CONCERTO NO.l RECORDED 1925

MENDELSSOHN SYMPHONY N0.4, ‘ITALIAN’ RECORDED 1931

HEBRIDES OVERTURE RECORDED 1941

WORLD PREMIERE RELEASES ON CD

SIR HAMILTON HARTY SIR MALCOLM SARGENT ALBERT SAMMONS

Page 2: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

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HALLE TR N

MAX BRUCH (1838-1920) VIOLIN CONCERTO NO.l IN G MINOR, 0P.26

1: I Allegro moderate .8.01

2: II Adagio .7.36 3: III Allegro energico .6.39

SIR HAMILTON HARTY CONDUCTOR ALBERT SAMMONS VIOLIN

FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) SYMPHONY N0.4 IN A, 0P.90, ‘ITALIAN’

4: I Allegro vivace .7.16

5: II Andante con mote .5.36

6: III Con mote moderate.4.24

7: IV Saltarello:presto.5.20 SIR HAMILTON HARTY CONDUCTOR

8: HEBRIDES OVERTURE, 0P.26.9.03

SIR MALCOM SARGENT CONDUCTOR

TOTAL TIMING .54.13

HALLE

SIR HAMILTON HARTY PRINCIPAL CONDUCTOR 1920-1933

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. UNAUTHORISED PUBLIC PERFORMANCE, HIRING, LENDING, BROADCASTING AND COPYING OF THIS COMPACT DISC PROHIBITED. THIS COMPILATION © 2004 HALLE CONCERTS SOCIETY UNDER EXCLUSIVE LICENCE TO SANCTUARY CLASSICS © 1925 (1-3) © 1932 (4-7) © 1941 (8) © 2004 HALLE CONCERTS SOCIETY

MANUFACTURED AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN

HALLE PRINCIPAL SPONSOR MANCHESTER AIRPORTS GROUP

DIGITALLY REMASTERED BY

SIMON HARAM AT SILENT

AGE SOUND

CD HLT 8002

BOOKLET ENCLOSED

FILE UNDER:

MENDELSSOHN,

BRUCH: HISTORICAL '43625 80022 7

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Page 3: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

HALLE

BRUCH VIOLIN CONCERTO Recorded 9 April 1925 in the old Free Trade Hall,

Manchester. First released in December 1925 by

Columbia (L1680-2)

MENDELSSOHN SYMPHONY N0.4

Recorded 10 April 1931 in Central Hall,

Westminster, London. First released in May 1932

by Columbia (DX342-4)

MENDELSSOHN HEBRIDES OVERTURE

Recorded 29 July 1941 in Houldsworth Hall,

Manchester. First released in December 1941 by

Columbia (DX1053)

ORIGINAL RECORDINGS DIGITALLY REMASTERED BY

SIMON HARAM AT SILENT AGE SOUND

Tracks 1-3 pub. Stanley Lucas, Weber & Co.

Tracks 4-8 pub. Breitkopf & Hartel

INSERT THIS DISC IN THE CD DRIVE OF YOUR PC,

CLICK ‘ENTER’ AND BE TRANSPORTED TO A WEBSITE

DEDICATED TO THIS DISC.

MAX BRUCH (1838-1920) VIOLIN CONCERTO NO.l IN G MINOR, 0P.26

1: I Allegro moderate .8.01

2: II Adagio .7.36 3: III Allegro energico .6.39

SIR HAMILTON HARTY CONDUCTOR ALBERT SAMMONS VIOLIN

FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) SYMPHONY N0.4 IN A, 0P.90, ‘ITALIAN’

4: I Allegro vivace .7.16

5: II Andante con mote.5.36

6: III Con mote moderate.4.24

7: IV Saltarello:presto.5.20 SIR HAMILTON HARTY CONDUCTOR

8: HEBRIDES OVERTURE, 0P.26.9.03

SIR MALCOM SARGENT CONDUCTOR

TOTALTIMING .54.13

CD HLT 8002

All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited. In the United Kingdom, licences for public performance or broadcasting may be obtained from Phonographic Performance Ltd, 1 Upper James Street, London W1F 9DE. Manufactured and printed in Great Britain.

Page 4: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

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Page 5: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

HALLE TRADITION These recordings offer a fascinating insight into the playing of the Halle before and during the

Second World War, primarily with its Principal Conductor, Hamilton Harty. Harty’s recorded

legacy with the Halle stretches from early acoustic recordings made in 1920 through until he

left Manchester in 1933. The Orchestra did not record again until 1941

It is important to remember the circumstances under which these recordings were made.

Works needed to be divided up into four- to five-minute sections, and tempos often reflect this

fact. There were no ‘second chances’, no edits and no opportunity to hear a finished ‘take’

without destroying it! As with all orchestral concerts at this time, rehearsal time was minimal

and it is probably worth bearing in mind that it was the growth of recording itself which led,

in the 1940s and ’50s, to a greater emphasis

on perfection - the players and public of the

1920s and ’30s were more concerned with The Halle under Harty was other qualities. almost certainly the best The period that is covered by these British orchestra of its day recordings saw profound changes in

orchestral sound. The younger string players

were turning their back on portamento or sliding (the new wave of teachers viewed it as

‘vulgar’), and it disappeared almost altogether after the Second World War. There is a very

particular English guality to the wind playing which has not survived into the modern era, for

example a much thinner oboe sound with less vibrato. The orchestral seating of the Halle in

those days was almost identical to that used by the Orchestra under Mark Elder today, with

divided 1st and 2nd violins on each side of the stage; however this practice almost disappeared

during the second half of the 20th century. Recording itself (probably along with vast

improvements in transport) was a major reason for orchestral sound across the world

becoming increasingly uniform. One reason alone to be grateful for these recordings is that we

can hear what an outstanding English orchestra sounded like before this started to occur. The

Halle under Harty was almost certainly the best British orchestra of its day; reviewing a

concert given in London by Harty and the Halle in January 1928, the critic of The Observer

wrote ‘Friday’s concert has made it possible to revaluate [sic] English orchestral playing, and to

realise, rather startlingly, that it is not necessary to leave the country to hear first-class

performances, for all that London shows up badly in that respect The Halle Orchestra can do all

those things with which the Berlin Philharmonic astonished us... the concert renewed one’s hope

for music in England and increased one’s envy of music in Manchester’.

Our very grateful thanks go to David Jones for his astonishing labour of love in cataloguing all

of the Halle’s recordings, and also to him and Derick Davenport for supplying original 78rpm

records from their collections.

John Summers 2004

THE HALLE WITH HAMILTON HARTY (1931)

Page 6: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

MAX BRUCH VIOLIN CONCERTO NO.l IN G MINOR, OP.26 FELIX MENDELSSOHN SYMPHONY N0.4 IN A, 0P.90, ‘ITALIAN’ HEBRIDES OVERTURE, 0P.26

Herbert Hamilton Harty (b. Hillsborough, Co. Down 1879; d. Brighton 1941) was something of

a prodigy. A church organist by the age of 12, he was taught viola, piano and the elements of

composition by his father, and on his arrival in London, at the age of 20, he wasted no time in

establishing himself as a composer and brilliant accompanist. With such talent he was not

lacking in confidence or self-belief, so it is not surprising that he was found conducting his own

works and rapidly making his mark as an interpreter of others in London orchestral concerts

before the First World War. Another conductor making a name for himself at this time was

Harty’s exact contemporary and life-long friend Thomas Beecham, who was probably

responsible for introducing him to the Halle. Certainly Beecham (who became something of a

hero to Manchester audiences during the war when he gave many concerts without a fee to

bolster the precarious finances of the Orchestra) recommended Harty as a replacement when

he himself was not available, ultimately suggesting him as a candidate for Permanent

Conductor when the war was over and the future of the orchestra was uncertain. So it was

that the talented and volatile Irishman took over the Halle when it was at a low ebb and

turned it into the remarkable ensemble that can be heard here on his recordings.

Albert Sammons (b. London 1886; d. Southdean 1957), like Harty, showed musical promise

very early. At the age of seven he learnt the rudiments of violin-playing from his shoemaker

father and quickly displayed a natural aptitude for the instrument. His working-class

background, however, precluded any chance of higher education and at the age of 12 he was

expected to leave school and start earning a living. This he duly did but instead of following

his father’s trade he took the remarkable decision to work as a professional violinist!

In 1898 this meant playing in hotels and theatres and soon the young Sammons was earning

a regular living during the winter season in London and then travelling up to the Grand Hotel,

Harrogate for the summer season there. He took lessons when he could but relied mostly on

his own innate ability and natural instinct. By the time Thomas Beecham heard him in 1908

he was already playing concertos and had formed the New String Quartet (later the London

String Quartet). Beecham immediately offered him a position on the front desk of his new

orchestra, soon appointing him leader.

At the age of 22 he was already a leading orchestral player and was making a name for

himself as a soloist, but the occasion which marked him out as a violinist of the first rank was

a concert at the Queen’s Hall in London on 23 November 1914 when he performed the Elgar

Violin Concerto (then just four years old) with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by

Ivan Saffanof. Press reviews were ecstatic and he was to perform the concerto many times

thereafter, often with the composer himself conducting. His 1929 recording with Henry Wood

would no doubt have remained the classic

interpretation had it not been for the now

legendary recording made just three years

later by Yehudi Menhuin and Elgar.

Sammons continued to champion the works

of Elgar and other English composers

throughout his career. He took part in the

first performances of Elgar’s String Quartet

and Piano Quintet and recorded the Violin Sonata. Delius wrote his Violin Concerto for

Sammons and later he was a great advocate of the concertos by Dyson and Moeran.

Between the wars his activities as a recitalist and quartet player increased and the list of

works he promoted is too long to be detailed here, but included works by Goossens, McEwen,

Bantock, Bax, Delius, Howells and Rubbra as well as the core Romantic and Classical

repertoire. Not content with this achievement Sammons also taught himself to compose,

winning the Cobbett Prize with his ‘Phantasy Quartet’ in 1915 but confining himself later to

the production of delightful miniatures a la Kreisler (there is now an excellent modern

recording of many of them by Paul Barritt, the Halle’s Permanent Guest Leader, and Catherine

Edwards). The onset of Parkinson’s disease forced him to retire from the concert platform in

1948 but his fame as a teacher almost equalled that of his playing — perhaps his best-known

pupils were Alan Loveday and Hugh Bean — and he carried on teaching until shortly before

his death in 1957.

Press reviews were ecstatic and he was to perform the

concerto many times thereafter, often with the composer

himself conducting.

Page 7: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

That this remarkable man, with his vast repertoire of concertos, chamber music and solo

works, was so little known outside his own country is partly a result of his own dislike of

foreign travel, but it may also be due to the fact that he left a comparatively small recorded

legacy. Apart from the Elgar and Delius concertos and the Mozart Sinfonia concertante with

Tertis, opportunities to hear his flawless technique and beautifully open-hearted playing in the

standard repertoire are relatively few. We should be grateful then for the chance to hear him

play one of the most popular of all violin

concertos but there is a caveat: acoustic

recordings of this era, however expertly

remastered, can be a shock to the unprepared

ear. The orchestra players, often drastically

reduced in the string department, were

crowded together so that their sound could be

picked up by the recording ‘horn’ and the bass

line had to be artificially boosted by a tuba or

similar brass instrument (the timpanist is even

subjected to this ignominy in the very first bar

of the concerto!) while the soloist, sharing the

same cramped conditions as his colleagues, had

to hope for the best. And yet after a few minutes’ listening the obvious audible shortcomings

matter less and the artistic achievements begin to shine through. The wonderful elasticity of

Sammons’ playing, particularly in the slow movement, is one of the beauties of the recording,

and the listener is always aware, thanks to delicately turned wind solos, of the sensitive

orchestral accompaniment in the background. The pyrotechnics of the last movement are

despatched with a zest which recalls Hugh Bean’s description of his teacher’s ‘honesty,

integrity, directness and generally fresh-air approach’. All these characteristics can be plainly

heard throughout this recording.

The advent of electrical recording and reproduction made a huge difference to sound quality

as well as balance, and Harty’s performance of Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony is an

eloquent demonstration of this. This is still the composer’s most popular symphony and it is

amazing to find that the most recent performance of it in the Halle Subscription Concerts

before this recording was in 1908! Certainly there is not a bar of routine playing to be heard

and conductor and producer obviously thought that the odd imperfection in the first

movement was more than made up for by the never-flagging energy of the performance as a

whole. The second movement may or may not have been inspired by a religious procession but

Harty avoids fake sanctity here, preferring to let the strong inner pulse of the music speak for

itself. Equally in the minuet all traces of Victorian gentility are banished by the full-blooded

playing of the strings, while the horns and bassoons in the ‘elfin’ trio section are perfectly

balanced tonally — not always achievable in modern performances. The listener may be

disappointed by the lack of repeats (and, more seriously, by a cut made at the return of the

minuet) but any regrets will be quickly dispelled by the performance of the Saltarello finale.

Here virtuoso playing, inspired conducting

and superb engineering are combined to

produce what for 1931 must have been a

‘demonstration quality’ recording.

Ten years after the ‘Italian’ Symphony

recording many things had changed. Harty

had departed under acrimonious

circumstances and though Beecham’s

relationship with the Halle continued he had many other irons in the fire. Finally, in 1939, an

agreement was reached that Malcolm Sargent (1895-1967) should be appointed ‘conductor-

in-chief’ and, although the outbreak of war was eventually to lead the Halle in an entirely

different direction, he continued to conduct the Orchestra and make recordings. Sargent was

never as popular with orchestral players as he was with choirs or audiences but this

performance of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture (also known as Fingal’s Cave) shows he could

instil discipline without rigidity and inspire eloquent playing without sentimentality.

© Alan Fearon 2004

The second movement may or may not have been inspired by a religious procession but Harty

avoids fake sanctity here...

Page 8: Violin Concerto No.1; Symphony No.4; Hebrides Overture

ALLE TRADITION

gOo§gb

CD HLT 8002

This compilation ® 2004

Halle Concerts Society under exclusive licence to Sanctuary. Classics © 2004 Halle Concerts Socir

All rights reserved.

Unauthorised public perform, hiring, lending, broadcasting

and copying of this .

compact disc prohibited.

BRUCH VIOLIN CONCERTO N0.1 MENDELSSOHN SYMPHONY N0.4, ‘ITALIAN’ HEBRIDES OVERTURE

HAMILTON HARTY/MALCOLM SARGENT r