A beautiful collection of some of the finest Elgar recordings
George Weldon: an excellent, under-rated conductor well worth hearing
"Gladys Ripley made a recording of Elgar's Sea Pictures in 1946, with George Weldon conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra (H.M.V. C3498-3500) which I reviewed in the July number of THE GRAMOPHONE in that year, and I find now that I could repeat that review word for word except that there is now no astringency in the tone of the violins in the first song, or in Sabbath Morning at Sea. Miss Ripley's lovely voice is ideal for these songs and, as I said before, she sings them with complete understanding and is free from all the usual contralto vices of hooting and scooping. Elgar is not always very sensitive in his setting of the words, as such, and indeed makes nonsense of some lines of the first song (Sea Slumber Song), but his music gives distinction to some indifferent poetry, the orchestral part is full of imaginative touches, and his vocal line has a fine sweep and singable-ness that seem to have departed from most vocal writing today. George Weldon and the L.S.O. provide a sensitive accompaniment, the balance is excellent, and altogether I found these five songs as enjoyable as ever..." - Gramophone, July 1954
Notes on the recordings:
These recordings, all sourced from excellent near-mint copies expertly transferred by Edward Johnson from his private collection, where a delight to restore. Very little complex restoraiton was required, and XR remastering worked a treat. These recordings have been one of those delightful collectionc which I've spent more time listening to than restoring - which is something of a rarity here at Pristine! Wholeheartedly recommended.
biographical notes excerpt from Wikipedia
|Weldon conducts the Hallé Orchestra|
George Weldon (June 5, 1908, Chichester, England – August 17, 1963, South Africa) was an English conductor. Weldon was educated at Sherborne School and at the Royal College of Music. He studied conducting with Malcolm Sargent. In 1943, at 36 years of age, he became the conductor of the City of Birmingham Orchestra in succession to Leslie Heward, where he largely reconstituted the orchestra.
Ruth Gipps became the choirmaster of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Choir in 1948 after the birth of her son, Lance, the previous year. Rumours circulated that the married Gipps was having an affair with Weldon and that Lance was Weldon's son, but these were never confirmed.
In 1950 it was suddenly announced that Weldon would be replaced by Rudolf Schwarz. The reasons for this are unclear, but according to Ruth Gipps, Weldon resigned before he could be dismissed. In 1952 he became assistant to John Barbirolli at the Hallé Orchestra and remained in that position until his death. While in Manchester, he took charge of the Hallé summer seasons of promenade concerts, and many industrial concerts around the north of England. He frequently conducted in London and abroad, made broadcasts and many records.
Notes in full at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottorino_Respighi
In an extensive online biography (a free download in pdf book form from www.georgeweldon.co.uk), Margery Law and Jean Powrie mentions Weldon's time recording and conducting with the London Symphony Orchestra:
In 1954 the LSO recorded three works with George Weldon. Two of these, both by Elgar, his concert overture, ‘In the South’ and the song cycle ‘Sea Pictures’ with Gladys Ripley as soloist, were combined to create what was still considered in 1966, three years after Weldon’s death, ‘a splendid disc’. ‘In both works’ the anonymous critic continued, ‘Weldon drew vigorous, warm playing from the LSO and for any Elgarian, this is an essential disc. The opening of ‘In the South’ at once gives the lie to any idea that this is unmemorable music. It launches one into the music with extraordinary exhilaration and the massive structure is masterfully controlled...The recording is excellent.’
George Weldon and Gladys Ripley had previously recorded ‘Sea Pictures’ in 1946 with the Philharmonia Orchestra. This recording has been reproduced on CD by Pearl (2004). Brian B.Culverhouse considers the LSO recording to have been the better. He recalls that during the LSO sessions Gladys Ripley complained of a sore throat and believes this was the onset of the cancer from which she died the following year.
1954 was the 50th jubilee of the LSO. This was celebrated on June 6th by a special charity gala concert, given in the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the Queen Mother. The programme played at the LSO’s initial concert was repeated in the same format. Each work was to be under the direction of a conductor who had been closely associated with the Orchestra. Muir Mathieson, George Weldon, Basil Cameron and Sir Malcolm Sargent all took part, George Weldon conducting Bach’s Suite No.3 in D. The other designated conductor, Professor Joseph Krips, Conductor-in-Chief of the LSO, had resigned due to a dispute and was replaced by Anthony Collins.
In August, still without a Conductor-in-Chief, the LSO was scheduled to give concerts at Knokke (Belgium) and at the Kerkrade (Netherlands) Music Festival, under the auspices of The British Council. George Weldon took over and accompanied the LSO abroad. It was reported in The British Council Music Advisory Committee minutes, that these concerts had been ‘very successful and the press notices were most enthusiastic.’ As usual, George Weldon had taken charge at the last minute and ‘pulled it off’.
The last recordings George Weldon made with the LSO were the only recordings he made in 1955, Grieg’s ‘Peer Gynt’ Suite 2 and Holst’s ‘Marching Song’ Opus 22. Both were made on September 12th.
Further on, in the Epilogue:
George Weldon’s work with young musicians and music lovers was inspiring and generous. He is not known to have accepted fees from educational establishments or from amateur musicians. In Britain, through tours, popular, promenade, industrial and school concerts, he strove to convey his own enjoyment of music to those to whom it was not easily accessible. Abroad, he conducted in countries then rarely, if ever, visited by his contemporary English professionals, often travelling and creating music under difficult conditions.
Seeing the conductor’s rôle as that of interpreter, he put the demands of the composer first. Scores were his regular reading matter. David King recalls how he once called at ‘Rosefield’ when George Weldon was living at Bexhill-on-Sea, to find him with a score of Mendlesohhn’s ‘Hebridean Overture’. With the aid of records, Weldon showed how frequently the opening of this piece was misinterpreted.
Endurance, humility and a willingness to serve are virtues which do not attract publicity. This is partly why George Weldon is so undervalued, only being remembered by those, once many, now dwindling, to whom he gave support or lifelong pleasure. Another reason is that his activities were wide-spread and few who appreciated his work in one location were aware of his achievements elsewhere. Many Birmingham citizens believed his years with the CBO/CBSO constituted his total career. Others, who packed the Royal Albert Hall for his London concerts, probably thought the same about his relationships with London orchestras. Also, because his pioneering achievements have often been wrongly attributed to his more aggressively marketed successors, he has not received his true accolade. It is hoped that this short biography, put together with the help of many who still feel indebted to him, will help to ‘straighten the record’.
Biography of George Weldon (download in 3 parts): http://www.georgeweldon.co.uk