The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (25): An English Adagietto

By the undeservedly obscure Harold Truscott. Written in 1943, hardly ever performed.

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  • Absolutely undeservedly obscure. I got to know him from his superb volume 1 of his study of Franz Schmidt. Then along came that Marco Polo disk. I’ve read some of his writings and listened to that disk many times. Fine symphony, too!

  • I have loved this recording for 25 years; why no other recordings or even an outing at the Last Night of the Proms? The Halle Proms (when the were a decent two-week festival used to include George Weldon’s lovely version of SUO GAN on final nights which would make another good comforter. (cfp Halle Maurice Handford)

  • Norman, thank you for sharing this fine piece, which was new to me. Written during the war, it inspires us to find beauty in music in these difficult days.

  • Having received its Southern Hemisphere premiere in 2014, marking Truscott’s centenary, in Australia, the Elegy was at last performed in England, in October 2018 in Malvern by the English Symphony Orchestra under Kenneth Woods. I know Ken would like to bring it to London; maybe when the lockdown is lifted. A few letters to the ESO commending that would help Ken convince the orchestral management about repeated performances!

  • noble, impressive piece; I’m glad to know it. It’s something in the same line of country as Guillaume Lekeu’s “Adagio pour Quatuor des Cordes” said by some to have influenced Barber’s “Adagio”. atruscott’s “Elegy” is like them for strings, and about the same oength as Lekeu’s “Adagio” and perhaps a bit shorter than Richard Strauss’s “Metamorpyosen”. Barber’s was under five minutes for toscanini, twice that when Bernstein was in charge.

    Another work that strongly recalls Mahler’s “Adagietto” is the slow movement of John Knowle Paines’s first symphony, recorded for New World by Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. It bould pass for early Mahler, with the “Adagietto” still in the future.

    I noted Truscott’s symphony is in E major, like Hans Rott’s and Bruckner’s seventh.

    Late in the 1890s Satie, Debussy, and Lekeu make the opilgrimmage to Bayreuth for “Tristan”. At the first notes, Satie burst into tears, Debussy began sketching a parody, and Lekeu fainted.

    Conductor Bartholomee recorded Lekeu’s “Adagio” with the Liege Philharmonique for Astree. It’s in memory of Lekeu’s teacher Cesar Franck.

    Sir Hubert Parry’s somewhat similar “Elegy for Brahms” is a bit of wash-out for me.

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