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<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    EPISODES FROM A MEMORY BANK


That precious bassoon vanished after his home was burgled in 1979. After this, he decided to stop playing -- 'Well, that is what I told people, but I just lost it...' He started to walk away from me, but quickly returned with a partly ashamed expression.

I mentioned his composer-father, Joseph Holbrooke, whose music I have loved since my National Service days, 1951-3, and the discovery of those precious Paxton 78rpm records. 'God, all those score hieroglyphics, the sheer profusion of notes. I could not make head or tail of it!' I expressed admiration for The Children of Don, Dylan and the Piano Concerto.

Joseph Holbrooke

He grabbed his despatch case and started undoing the straps. From inside he removed two CDs -- one, the chamber works of Holbrooke: The Clarinet Quintet in G major, Piano Quintet in G minor, and some settings of traditional melodies of England, Scotland and Ireland; the other, performances of concertos by the English Bach and Mozart -- the 'Violin' Concerto in G major, together with Devienne's Quartet in C and Reicha's Sonata in B flat. The soloist on all four was Gwydion himself. 'As you are a real music enthusiast, I would ask you to accept these'. I promised to listen closely and write about our meeting.

Keeping Sir Thomas Beecham aside, we spoke of the 1947 Weber Concerto recording with Sir Malcolm Sargent and the then Liverpool Philharmonic. 'Can you picture me late at night sitting upright in bed in my new gold silk pyjamas listening to the radio? I switch on BBC Radio 3, then when I've had enough transfer over to Classic FM. There was this young woman spouting about the Liverpool Phil, without realising that it is the oldest of our Philharmonic orchestras; she then stops and I hear music....wait a minute, I know this, and by God that's me playing! Imagine the state of complete silence as you listen to yourself pulsing the phrasework! Eerie!'

After I had stopped laughing, I turned to Sir Thomas 'and his Royal Family' -- the famous wind foursome in the Royal Philharmonic -- Gerald Jackson, Terence MacDonagh, Jack Brymer, Gwydion Brooke -- bald heads glistening, fingers performing conjuring tricks, lip pressure and breath control producing marvels in purity and breathing of sound phrasing during those marvellous London concerts.

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Copyright © 5 April 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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