Have you heard of the composer Freda Swain? I sure hadn’t. But William Wiegus has now introduced her to me. These are so sweet!

From the YouTube Page (and you might want to subscribe to his channel!):

Freda Swain (1902-1985)
Three Whimsies for unaccompanied Oboe (1969)
1. Jig-Jog (0:00-0:45)
2. Lament (0:46-2:11)
3. Reel (2:12-3:14)

William Wielgus, oboe
Home Recording, July 4, 2022

Illustrations of Paddington Bear by Peggy Fortnum

Freda Swain was born in Portsmouth, England on 31 October 1902, the daughter of Thomas and Gertrude (nee Allen) Swain. Her first piano lessons (from age 11) were at the Tobias Matthay Piano School in London, given by Matthay’s sister Dora.] Three years later she went to study composition with Charles Villiers Stanford and piano with Arthur Alexander (1891-1969) at the Royal College of Music] earning awards including the Sullivan Prize in 1921.

In 1924 Swain began teaching at the Royal College and in 1936 she founded the British Music Movement to help promote the efforts of young composers and artists. Swain married Arthur Alexander in 1921, and before World War II the couple toured South Africa and Australia, lecturing, broadcasting and performing recitals. They were both on the founding board of the Surrey College of Music from the mid-1940s. From 1942 they lived in a bungalow on Chinnor Hill in Oxfordshire. Freda Swain died on 29 January 1985.

Swain wrote some 450 pieces, piano and chamber music as well as many songs, but also opera and orchestral works, including two piano concertos and a clarinet concerto. Few were performed aside from a series featured in the NEMO Series of concerts that Swain herself founded after the wa Her first major success was The Harp of Aengus for violin and orchestra (after the Yeats poem), with soloist Achille Rivarde at the Queen’s Hall in January 1925. The solo Violin Sonata was premiered by May Harrison at the Wigmore Hall on 8 December, 1933. Her ‘Airmail’ Piano Concerto, mailed in instalments to her husband Arthur Alexander while he was stuck in South Africa during World War II, was performed by Alexander in Cape Town. She composed a one-act opera Second Chance, but left two other operas incomplete.

Piano compositions include three large scale piano sonatas and 40 or so other works for solo piano, including many educational pieces. There is also a substantial cello sonata, two violin sonatas (one with piano, the other unaccompanied), two string quartets, a piano quartet, a sextet with horn and clarinet, a Suite for Six Trumpets and many other chamber and instrumental pieces.

Swain’s surviving manuscripts were handed down to her pupil and friend David Stevens, founder of the Swain-Alexander Trust. In turn they were passed on to Swiss pianist Timon Altwegg in 2005, who has begun recording the piano works for Toccata Classics.

(Information from the Wikipedia article on Freda Swain)

10. January 2022 · Comments Off on New To My Ears · Categories: NewToMyEars™

I’ve not done a “new to me” post in eons, but I landed on this video and I had never heard of the composer before. Baroque composer Johann Melchior Molter, from Germany, is worth a listen, as is this group! (And I just love the sound of the Baroque oboe.)

From the YouTube page:

Johann Melchior Molter
Concerto for oboe in a
Badische Landesbibliothek Karlsruhe Concertos- Mus. Hs. 300

0:00 I. Allegro
3:07 II. Largo
5:14 III. Allegro

Musica Gloria
Nele Vertommen & Beniamino Paganini

Nele Vertommen – oboe
Elise Dupont – violin
Pietro Battistoni – violin
Lena Rademann – viola
Phyllis Bartholomeus – cello
Beniamino Paganini – harpsichord

Thomas Langlois – recording supervisor
Rachel Perfecto & Jakob De Vreese – video recording cameras
Peter Van Wonterghem – sound engineer
Nele Vertommen & Beniamino Paganini – sound editing
Beniamino Paganini – sound recording & video editing

Hollands College Leuven (B) – 11 December 2021

With many thanks to LozerCultureel

28. January 2019 · Comments Off on A New Composer to Me · Categories: Composers, Contemporary Composers, NewToMyEars™

There are so many new composers I know nothing about. Perhaps I’ll start a series that features composers who are new to my ears. We shall see.

This composer was great fun to listen to, especially as she talks about her composition process.

Hannah Kendall, talking about her work Baptistry.

20. March 2017 · Comments Off on Robert Kahn · Categories: NewToMyEars™

I’d never heard of this work, much less the composer. I’d love to perform this sometime! I think it was originally for French horn but perhaps included an “or English horn” on the front page. I’ve not seen the music since it’s not available on imslp in the US yet and I’m careful not to download things that are still under copyright.

Robert Kahn: Serenade, Opus 73 for Oboe, English horn and Piano
Alexey Konoplyannikov, oboe; Alexey Sorokin, English horn; Vera Almazova, piano

03. December 2016 · Comments Off on New To Me · Categories: English horn, NewToMyEars™

Last night as I was driving home from our final Symphony Silicon Valley rehearsal I heard a piece I’d never heard before for English horn and strings. How did I not know about this sweet piece?

Concertino In a Flat Major, Op. 34
English horn and orchestra
I. Preludio
II. Capriccio (05:49)
III. Adagio (13:19)
IV: Finale (21:28)

Jose Antonio Masmano
Corno Inglés

Peter Csaba, Director
Orquesta Ciudad de Granada
Auditorio Manuel de Falla
Granada, 11 y 12 noviembre de 2011

23. October 2014 · Comments Off on New To Me · Categories: NewToMyEars™

I haven’t posted anything about a composer being new to me in eons. But since I found a few videos by Johann Hermann Schein and enjoyed the music here’s one for you:

With Nicholas Daniel and Warren Jones.

This is a new work to my ear. I’m liking what I hear!

31. July 2013 · Comments Off on Cliffs of Moher, Concertino para Oboe y Orquesta – Javier Martínez Campos · Categories: NewToMyEars™, Oboe, Videos

For those of you looking for new works, this appears to be one!

Here’s the info directly from the YouTube page:

Concertino para Oboe y Orquesta
(Premio en el IX Concurso de Composición “Andrés Gaos” 2011 de la Diputación de A Coruña)
Estreno: Palacio de la Ópera de A Coruña – enero 2013 – Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia OSG/ Director: Josep Pons. Oboe solista: Casey Hill.
Cliffs of Moher – Javier Martínez Campos (2.010)

(Prize in the IX Composition Competition “Andrés Gaos” 2011)
Premier: Palacio de la Ópera de A Coruña – january 2013 – Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia OSG/ Conductor: Josep Pons. Oboe solist: Casey Hill.

I’ve never seen these before … at least not as far as I remember (so, considering my memory, that’s not saying much, eh?) …

The piece sounds like a hymn. Anyone know it?

22. February 2012 · Comments Off on For Your Listening Enjoyment · Categories: For Your Listening Enjoyment, NewToMyEars™

… and new to my ears, the AZAHAR ENSEMBLE plays À Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn:

Info provided:
Frederic Sánchez – Flauta
María Alba Carmona – Oboe
Gonzalo Esteban – Clarinete
Antonio Lagares – Trompa
María José García – Fagot

Direcció de vídeo, Igor Cortadellas

So. Zoom

Càmeres: Marc Campà, Igor Cortadellas