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Press Release: Summer 2015

Leicester Symphony Orchestra to record newly rediscovered works by its founder, Sir Malcolm Sargent

Leicester Symphony Orchestra is delighted to announce that it is in the process of recording two orchestral works, previously thought lost, by its founder-conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Sargent's performance in 1921 at the De Montfort Hall of his An Impression on a Windy Day with the Queens Hall Orchestra first brought him to the attention of the public and Sir Henry Wood. Whilst this work has been performed and recorded in recent years, two further works of these early years had previously been thought lost.

However the scores of the Nocturne and Scherzo: Night-time with Pan and Valsette in A minor were finally tracked down to the Royal College of Music by Sam Dobson, and will now be recorded by the orchestra Sargent conducted for 20 years, the Leicester Symphony Orchestra.

Nocturne and Scherzo: Night-time with Pan, was written specially for a Russell Subscription Concert at De Montfort Hall in 1922 and was also performed at the Proms in 1922 and 1923. A reviewer said, "It went with a bang, not a little of its effect being due to the tremendous energy of the young conductor, who bestrode the whirlwind in fine style."

Sargent conducted the Valsette in A minor at the Proms in 1923 describing the work as, "Pure Tchaikovsky and all the better for that."

It was the success of the Russell Subscription Concerts that led to the formation of the Leicester Symphony Orchestra, which Sargent conducted until 1942. Present-day conductor John Andrews said, "It is an absolute delight to be able to give these pieces their world premiere recording. They give us a wonderful insight into English music-making in the inter-war years, and suggest that Sargent could have been a very successful composer if he hadn't been such a successful conductor."

Sam Dobson summed Sargent up: "Sargent went on to greatness. He quickly attracted devoted followers, his buoyant personality enabling him to communicate his enthusiasm for music to players, singers and audiences alike. His sense of theatre, elegant dress and sheer panache propelled a meteoric career in Britain and throughout the world. From humble beginnings, Malcolm Sargent became one of the best known musicians in the world."

The CD is due for release in 2018.

All three works have been transcribed and will be available to hire after the recording has been completed. More information on the discovery and publication of the pieces is available
here and on the pieces themselves here.

leicesterso@hotmail.com
www.leicestersymphonyorchestra.co.uk
www.johnkandrews.com


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Background to Press Release: Rediscovery and Publication Summer 2015

Three Orchestral Compositions Sir Malcolm Sargent 1895-1967

Allegro Impetuoso: An Impression on a Windy Day, opus 9, 1921 (7 minutes)
Nocturne and Scherzo: Night-time with Pan, opus 10 1922 (10 minutes)
Valsette in A minor, opus 8, written 1919 first performed 1923 (3 minutes)

The Leicester Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce the publication of three previously unpublished orchestral compositions by its founder Sir Malcolm Sargent. His genius as a conductor came to the attention of the wider world in early 1920s Leicester where he performed to packed houses. What is not so well known is that on occasions, concerts would feature his own compositions.

It was through conducting his own composition, An Impression on a Windy Day, that the 25 year old Sargent's unique talent was recognized by Sir Henry Wood and other figures of the musical establishment. This was in De Montfort Hall in 1921. The two other pieces were also performed around this time but it was thought that their scores were probably lost.

Sam Dobson, a long time supporter of the orchestra said, "About a year ago, I decided that if they existed, I would try to find the missing scores. After several dead ends I contacted Sylvia Darley who was secretary and personal assistant to Sargent for the last 20 years of his life. She put me in contact with a very knowledgeable librarian at the Royal College of Music who was able to locate the hand written scores. I hope that in a small way this publication is a tribute to Sir Malcolm and his unbounded enthusism for and commitment to the musical life of Leicester."

Copies of the scores for all three pieces were sent to Leicester where they were transcribed onto a computer by an orchestral member, Jeremy Oakley. This means that the pieces can now be played by Leicester Symphony Orchestra or any other orchestra that wants to borrow them. John Andrews the LSO's conductor said, "We feel there is bound to be quite some interest in these works. Windy Day is a little gem, seven minutes of fun. The other two pieces we haven't heard yet but they seem to be a sort of cross between Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky. We intend playing them through later this year. This kind of rediscovery is always going to be exciting."

Sam Dobson who has researched the life of Malcolm Sargent said,"Sargent had a prodigeous talent. Most people today remember him as a Proms conductor, which he did for 20 years. He had a thorough grounding in music was a hugely accomplished organist and pianist as well as being an able composer and arranger. It was Henry Wood who persuaded Sargent that his true calling was as a conductor."

More information on the orchestral compositions can be found
here. The recording will also include Malcolm Sargent's arrangements of works by Brahms, Bach and Borodin. For more information see here

www.leicestersymphonyorchestra.co.uk


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Three Orchestral Compositions Sir Malcolm Sargent 1895-1967

Allegro Impetuoso: An Impression on a Windy Day, opus 9, 1921 (7 minutes)
Nocturne and Scherzo: Night-time with Pan, opus 10, 1922 (10 minutes)
Valsette in A minor, opus 8. Written 1919 first performed 1923 (3 minutes)

The Leicester Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce the recording and publication of three previously unpublished orchestral compositions by their founder Sir Malcolm Sargent. His genius as a conductor came to the attention of the wider world in early 1920s Leicester where he performed to packed houses. What is not so well known is that on occasions, concerts would feature his own compositions.

Sargent was born in 1895 and lived in Stamford until the age of 19. After completing a rigorous apprenticeship at Peterborough cathedral he was appointed organist and choirmaster in Melton Mowbray.

A concert held 3 February 1921 was a key point in both Malcolm Sargent's career and in the formation of the Leicester Symphony Orchestra. On that day Sir Henry Wood - the founder of the Proms and the father of British conducting - visited the De Montfort Hall, Leicester with his Queen's Hall Orchestra. It was a charity concert and as was customary, included a specially commissioned work from a local musician. Malcolm Sargent had been invited to compose a piece which he called, Allegro Impetuoso: An Impression on a Windy Day.

In the event, he conducted the piece as well as composing it. This was because two weeks before the concert he still had not written out the music and it was too late for Sir Henry to study and rehearse. Sargent said that he composed the piece "quickly and easily". He had had its shape in his head for quite some time. The "feel" and thematic material had come to him while golfing with friends at Cromer in gusty weather. "Windy Day", written and conducted by the 25 year old Malcolm Sargent, brought the house down. It was a sensation.

Wood immediately invited Sargent to conduct his piece at the Proms which he did the following October and on four subsequent occasions. In Leicester, a music shop owner and impresario Karl Russell, quick to spot an opportunity, commissioned Sargent for a series of four Russell Subscription Concerts which in turn led to the formation of the Leicester Symphony Orchestra in 1922.

Sargent 1922
This is the earliest known photograph of Malcolm Sargent with the LSO, taken shortly after its creation in 1922

Sargent continued to conduct the Leicester Symphony Orchestra until 1942 by which time his increasing workload made it impossible for him to continue. Programme notes are available on request.

Sargent 1923
Nocturne and Scherzo: Night-time with Pan, was written specially for the third of the Russell Subscription Concerts at De Montfort Hall, 10 February 1922. The piece was also performed at the Proms in 1922 and 1923.

A reviewer said, "It went with a bang, not a little of its effect being due to the tremendous energy of the young conductor, who bestrode the whirlwind in fine style." The piece was played in Leicester at fourth concert of LSO's first season 19 April 1923 and also in Llandudno where Sargent conducted spa concerts between 1926 and 1928. A copy of Sargent's original programme notes for this piece are available on request. The concert of 10 February 1922 is also known to have been pivotal in the life of another, soon to be famous, composer, Michael Tippett.



Malcolm Sargent outside the Royal Albert Hall
in 1923, the year in which he conducted all three
of his own orchestral compositions at Prom concerts

In 1919 Sargent was awarded his doctorate by Durham university. As part of this he had to write, "A 40 minute piece in three movements including eight part choral writing and a fugue in not less than five parts". He chose Shelley's Ode to a Skylark for his subject. In 1923 he lifted out an orchestral interlude which he called, Valsette in A minor. Sargent conducted this at the Proms in 1923 and also in Llandudno between 1926 and 1928. He described the work as, "Pure Tchaikovsky and all the better for that. Nothing original about it, thank God." then added, "The trouble with so many modern composers is that they insist on being themselves."
Sargent 1924
Leicester Symphony Orchestra has the permission of the copyright holder, Malcolm Sargent Estate, to perform from and lend these scores. They will be recorded, alongside Sir Malcolm's orchestral arrangements of works by Brahms, Bach and Borodin, together with a work by another local composer Sir Malcolm Arnold. The orchestral arrangements are described
here

I hope that in a small way this publication pays tribute to Sir Malcolm Sargent and his unbounded enthusism for and commitment to the musical life of Leicester.

Recordings are in progress and publication details will be announced later.

Sam Dobson
www.leicestersymphonyorchestra.co.uk

Sources:
LSO Archives
Neil Crutchley, Leicester Symphony Orchestra - The First 90 Years
Charles Reid's biography of Malcolm Sargent




Malcolm Sargent, with hallmark carnation, conducts
the LSO in the De Montfort Hall, Leicester in 1935

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The Other Works included on the CD

Sir Malcolm Sargent: Orchestral Arrangements

Brahms Four Serious Songs Op121 were composed in the last year of Brahms' life during the time of Clara Schumann's final illness. The biblical texts, around the themes of despair, hope, love and the transience of life are set for voice and piano. They have been described as "compact, refined, uncompromising masterpieces."

The work reflected Sargent's own devastation in the darkest period of his life when his cherished daughter Pamela was dying of polio. He orchestrated the songs for full standard orchestra and dedicated them to her. They were written in final weeks of her tragically short life, much of the work being done at Pamela's bedside as she slept. She died in 1944 and is buried in Hartland, Devon.

Sargent's setting was given many performances notably sung by Kathleen Ferrier who, by a twist of fate, was herself to die tragically young. She had recently been discovered by Sargent. Reviews were invariably favourable with even critics barely able to believe that the orchestration was not by Brahms himself. Sargent's orchestration was described by one critic as, "perhaps his finest legacy to music."

The Borodin Nocturne from 2nd String Quartet is a well known and popular piece. Sargent expands the scoring from the original four instruments to include the whole string section. He is thought to have worked on this in 1946 and a recording was released shortly after completion. It was published in 1949. Sargent is known to have been very pleased with the work and of all the many arrangements of the Borodin Nocturne, this one seems to do most to maintain the intimacy of the original.

The work was played by the LSO in December 1967 at a concert given in memory of Sir Malcolm who had done so much for the orchestra. He had died two months earlier.

Bach's Air from Suite no. 2 in D, "On the G string", is well known and popular. The archives of the LSO indicate that Sargent conducted an orchestrated arrangement of this as early as March 1927. This could have been a try-out as Gramophone released the first recording of the piece with the New Symphony Orchestra under Sargent in the following year.

The piece is known to have been included on the programmes of Sargent's Blitz Tour concerts of 1940. The Bach is scored for a small ensemble. In keeping with the atmosphere of the original, Sargent's adaptation is lightly scored for strings and wind with no brass. However, a memorable large scale version with about 150 string players, was conducted by Sargent in the Royal Albert Hall in the 1960s. This was at the spring concert for the four colleges and academies of London.

Notes on other pieces to be included on the recording will be added when the final selection is made.


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