Friday, February 9, 2018

Howard Ferguson: Octet

Howard Ferguson
The work that put Belfast-born Howard Ferguson (1908-1999) on the musical map was his Octet, scored for the same forces as Schubert's, written when he was a young man of 24. Dedicated to his composition teacher at the Royal College of Music, R. O. Morris (whose other students included Gerald Finzi, Michael Tippett, Constant Lambert and Edmund Rubbra), the work began life as a clarinet quintet, then was expanded into an octet at Morris' suggestion.  Here is its first recording, made ten years later:

Howard Ferguson: Octet, Op. 4
The Griller String Quartet (Griller-O'Brien-Burton-Hampton)
augmented by
Pauline Juler, clarinet
Cecil James, bassoon
Dennis Brain, horn
James Merrett, double bass
Recorded April 7 and May 24, 1943
Decca AK 1095 through AK 1097, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 53.49 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 32.61 MB)

This is one of Dennis Brain's earliest recordings, and, of course, he would make many more before his untimely death in 1957 of an auto accident. It appears, however, that this is the only recording by Pauline Juler (1914-2003), a fact that seems doubly regrettable when one hears her fine account of the prominent clarinet part in Ferguson's Octet. But Juler, who had studied with Charles Draper, gave up performing publicly after her marriage to cellist Bernard Richards in 1948.

11 comments:

  1. Alternate links:

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/rn0b0oo2520h55t/Griller_SQ_-_Ferguson_Octet_FLACs.zip

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/w01hw3ie7o2yhew/Griller_SQ_-_Ferguson_Octet_MP3s.zip

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  3. That is to say, thanks, Bryan!

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  4. Many thanks for this discovery.
    Outstanding performers.

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  5. Much appreciate your efforts in sharing with us.

    Cheers,

    Douglas (UK)

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  6. Thank you, as ever, Bryan! All the best, Nick

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  7. I actually played this in a programme with the Schubert. There are very few pieces for this particular instrumentation.

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  8. Thank you very much for this very interesting performance. I never heared about Ferguson before.

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