Bain’s Blog - Indian Summer

      Date posted: February 14, 2011

Indian Summer

A student of the way asked Yun-men: How is it when the tree withers and the
leaves fall?

Yun-men said: The golden wind is manifesting itself.

Zen koan

The golden wind is the poetic locution for autumn in old Chinese culture. Yun-men
(Jap. Unmon ), whom R.H. Blyth—”Zen in English Literature and oriental Classics”
thought one of the great figures, a Shakespeare or Göethe but with an Enlightened
eye. Thomas Cleary translates the answer as “Body exposed in the golden wind”
emphasizing the sense of vulnerability and ruin. The days shorten, cool mists
appear, and an overall sense of end times encroaches. Then comes a sudden rise
in temperature for a precious few days. Indian Summer (Or “First Nations Person’s
Summer”, as the PC crowd would express it); our special phenomenon here in the
Northern Tier.

Conductors are generally a long-lived breed. I shall deal here with a few examples of some who have enjoyed a glorious “Indian Summer” to our great enrichment.

Günter Wand (1912-2002)
Bruckner 9th Symphony

I initially hesitated to include Günter Wand in this group: for one thing, like Sergiu Celibidache and Jascha Horenstein, he was never really out of a conducting career. He had long tenures in the opera house, and led orchestras, if only as a guest, on both continents. A perfectionist who required seven to eight rehearsals, he was best suited to the German radio orchestras who could accommodate him. After an association with the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, in 1982 he became chief conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra. A contemporary of Karajan, he more closely resembled Celibidache , or Klemperer. My first and main Brahms Symphony cycle on CD was his. My choice also for Schubert 8th and 9th.

I think he qualifies for the Indian Summer category due to his late—in his ’sixties— devotion to the music of Anton Bruckner (Himself, a “late bloomer”.) Two complete cycles, first with the Cologne and then with the NDR orchestras; and his transcendent performances, in his last years, with the Berlin Philharmonic.

From these, and in the mood of Indian Summer I shall offer

Bruckner: Symphony No.9. D minor.
Günter Wand
Berlin Philharmonic
Recorded Live, 09/1998
Rca Victor Special Imports Catalog #: 163244
Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 62323

Video: With NDR.
Bruckner: Sym. No.9; 1st mov.

Georg Tintner (1917 – 1999)

Born in Vienna, he had joined the Vienna Boy’s Choir at the age of nine, and over the next four years had sung all of the Bruckner masses under the composer’s pupil and friend Franz Schalk, thus forming a lifelong devotion to the music of Bruckner. He later studied under Felix Weingartner at the Vienna State Academy.

With the Anschluss in 1938, his contract with the Vienna Volksoper was abruptly terminated. Escaping via Yugoslavia, he made his way to New Zealand in 1942 having been guaranteed support by the parents of one of his pupils. After conducting the Aukland Choral Society, he moved to Australia to conduct the National Opera— later the Autralian Opera. Then in 1964 he returned to New Zealand to conduct the New Zealand Opera. For a short time he led the South African Municipal Orchestra, a post which his distaste for Apartheid caused him to relinquish.  Then after a short stay in Britain, which increased his antipathy to concert agents, he returned to Australia to conduct the Queensland Philharmonic from 1976 to 1987. He came onto my radar with his appointment as Music Director of Symphony Nova Scotia.

This somewhat less than stellar course, was interrupted when he was “discovered” by Klaus Heymann of Naxos to conduct a complete cycle of Bruckner Symphonies. This gave Naxos credibility at last. And it gave Georg Tintner a glorious “Indian Summer”

I have especially preferred his recordings of the early Bruckner Symphonies, where he has used the latest critical editions. But it is the Seventh, I will offer. This was the first of the Tintner performances I happened to hear on the radio; and the Seventh is my personal initiation to Bruckner — with the old Decca, Van Beinum/ Concertgebouw (1947).  Tintner’s performance gained instant credibility and moved me to delve further into his Bruckner cycle.

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7, D Minor
Georg Tintner
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Naxos 554269

Georg Tintner was a lifelong Socialist, Pacifist, and Vegan. We lived in Halifax during part of his tenure.  I rejoiced that he had been able to finally show his true mettle; these Bruckner recordings would be his legacy. My regret is that we never met. I think, flattering myself immensely, he was just sufficiently eccentric that we might have gotten along quite well.

George Lloyd (1913 -1998)

George Lloyd came by his Celtic roots honestly. A Cornishman, he was born in St. Ives.  Bouts of rheumatic fever kept him out of school until the age of 11; he then studied violin with Albert Sammons and composition with Harry Farjeon, and attended Trinity College. He completed his first symphony at 19, which was programmed by Sir Dan Godfrey and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
George Lloyd Lyrita DiscServing in the Royal Marines, nominally as a bandsman, he was pressed into convoy duty as a gunner on arctic convoys. When his cruiser, HMS Trinidad, was torpedoed and sunk, he was rescued but traumatized by witnessing the drowning of fellow marines, what would today be termed Post-trumatic Stress Syndrome.  His health problems recurred, and he suffered a near total breakdown. The next years were spent in Switzerland convalescing at his wife Nancy’s family home, where he wrote his Fourth and Fifth symphonies.  The Fourth, entitled “Arctic Journeys”; “a world of darkness, storms, strange colours and a far-away peacefulness”, was a coming to terms with the wartime trauma.

Through the 50s and ’60s, withdrawn to Dorset, he raised carnations and mushrooms as a market gardener, reserving 4:20 to 7:30 each morning for composition.

“I sent scores off to the BBC. They came back, usually without comment. I never wrote 12-tone music because I didn’t like the theory. I studied the blessed thing in the early 1930’s and thought it was a cock-eyed idea that produced horrible sounds. It made composers forget how to sing.”
-George Lloyd

The beginning of his renaissance was Edward Downes and his Lyrita recordings of
Lloyd’s Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth symphonies.

LLOYD, GEORGE Symphony No. 4 in B (1945-6), Symphony No. 5 in B flat (1947-8), Symphony No. 8 (1961 orch. 1965). Philharmonia Orchestra / Edward Downes. Lyrita 3cds     SRCD2258

I have recently taken delivery of these CDs— a visit by “The Lyrita Truck”; which stops frequently chez nous— but I treasure a tape made off-air, when the late Bob Kerr programmed the Lloyd Fifth Symphony, in the Lyrita recording for my fiftieth birthday.
George Lloyd cover
It was Peter Kermani, the American counterpart of Richard Itter (Lyrita), who formed Albany Records (UK div.), to record George Lloyd, in England, and with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, for whom he had secured a guest conductor appointment for Lloyd, who gave George Lloyd his Indian Summer.

The Albany band loved George Lloyd, and “played above themselves” for him. His last symphonies were commissioned by them. They also performed a second concert of their season schedule in Troy, New York, site of the eponymous Troy Savings Bank Music Hall — conjure an age when bankers would build “Banks of Marble” and add a concert hall above. If you have heard a Dorian recording, you have probably heard the fabulous TSBMH acoustic, and its proximity to New York City, has made it a popular recording venue.

In 1990, upon the departure of Geoffrey Simon, George Lloyd was engaged to complete the season as Music Director. The season’s last concert was to be the premiere of Lloyd’s recently completed Twelfth Symphony.  In April of 1990, we had planned to journey down to Troy from Ottawa for this concert. Unfortunately a relative’s death changed our plans suddenly, and took us to Kingston instead.

The recording of the Twelfth—coupled with his First Symphony, also in a single movement thus truly closing the cycle, was recorded for Albany Records in the days following the premiere. I need say no more than that Tony Faulkner captured both the performance and the Troy acoustic.

George Lloyd: Symphonies:  One and Twelve
George Lloyd
Albany Symphony Orchestra

John Edward Bain


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