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COMPTON MACKENZIE and CHRISTOPHER STONE Wordsworth 2010

Vol. XVIII

FEBRUARY 1941

No. 213

CONTENTS

193 Editorial

197 Behind the Needle-VIII

199 Letter (rom America

Compton Mackenzie

Herbert C. Ridout

Roland B. Gelatt

200 Some Beauties o( Programme Music-V.

.

201 Analytical Notes and First Reviews

W. R. Anderson

205 Miscellaneous and Dance

Sam Heppner

206 Frank Bridge

207 Swing Music

209 TechnicalĀ·

F. G. You ens

Edgar jackson

210 Collector's Corner R. E. Higgins L. and Hevingham-Root

211 Richard Strauss and the Theatre ) . V. L. Gode(roy

213 Correspondence

214 Gramophone Society News

EDITORIAL

Sydney MacEwan

W HEN I was standing for the Rectorship of Glasgow University one of the members of the Nationalist Committee was a young man called Sydney MacEwan, much in demand at University gatherings for his singing. In those days his voice was considered a baritone . Nter leaving the University he sought my advice about the professional career he planned for himself. I felt pretty sure he had in him the makings of a first-class tenor, but I did not rely entirely on my own judgment. I sent MacEwan to myoid friend John McCormack and asked him to give an opinion. In due course John McCormack gave his opinion and it was extremely filVourable. Meanwhile, Sydney MacEwan was studying either at the Royal Academy or the Royal College of Music, and I gave him an introduction to Plunket Greene, whom I considered the finest guide a young singer could have. Plunket Greene gave him some lessons, and the next st ep was recording. Oscar Preuss, of Parlophone, believed in the young singer and during the last few years his records have been appearing regularly. MacEwan himself went out to Australia and New Zealand, where he had a great success with a concert tour, and he remained for some time in Australia with one of the Broadcasting Companies.

Then he decided to become a priest and was a student in the Scots College in Rome when war broke out. The students were called home and MacEwan is now at Bearsdcn, the Catholic seminary in the Arch-diocese of Glasgow. Meanwhile, with the permission of his pastors and masters, he is still making records, and he has now made a sufficient number of outstanding quality to justify my calling part icular attention to the performance of this remarkable tenor, in my opinion the best singer of Scots and Irish songs since John McCormack himself conquered the world some thirty-five years ago . I shall suggest as a fine test of his qualityPariophone E41 0 I , which contains on one side The Bonnie Earl of Moray and on the other the old traditional melody of Maiden of M()Tvern (not Morven as printed on the disc and in Songs of the North), the words of which were written by the late Sir Harold Boulton. The Bonnie Earl of Moray has never been so well sung, and i t is a model of how to give a song the full force of dramatic expression without letting listeners forget that it is a song. Both this and j\1aiden of Morvern are most beautifully accompanied on the piano by Duncan Morrison, who, rumour says, is a prisoner of war at the moment. Another good record is E4103 with Mhnathan a 'Ghlinne So on one side and Tog Oml Mo Phiob. In both these he is accompanied on the clarsach by Mrs. Campbell of Airds . Tradition says that Mhllathall a 'Ghlinne So, which means Ā« \Vomen of these glens," was the tune played by a Campbell piper, who dislikcdlhe task his clansmen had been set, to warn the Macdonalds of Glencoe of the impending massacre. It is a great Campbell tune and the piper of the Duke of Argyll used to play i t outside Inveraray Castle every morning at 8 o'clock to rouse host and guests, though truth to tell the tune itself is much more of a lullaby than a reveille. Tog Orm Mo Phiob (" Lift up on me my pipe ") was written by the great piper of the Macleods, MacCrimmon, in 1626. It is a most moving air with moving words, and MacEwan sings perfectly the arrangements made by Duncan Morrison, though I must confess that I think a piano accompaniment for this song is a mistake. Sydney MacEwan is not a native Gaelic speaker, but he has been well coached by his Gaelic-speaking friends and acquits himself creditably in that difficult language. Another good disc is E4108. On one side is Turn re To Afe, which is a particularly difficult song to sing really well. I would not say MacEwan quite reaches the level attained by his great exemplar, John McCormack, but he runs a good second. On the other side of this disc is Island Moon, a charming poem by Agnes Mure MacKenzie, set to music by Duncan Morrison . This has fascinated everybody to whom I have played it. Miss Mure :MacKcnzic, a native herself of Lewis, makes an odd mistake for such a careful observer by r,peaking of a . waning moon low in the west. This of cour~e is an astro-