From Sir Neville Marriner on the occasion of George's 80th birthday
The Goldberg Variations Ideal
From Evan Tucker - Mein Blog (2013)
Nearly all the greatest recordings: Wanda Landowska, Helmut Walcha, Igor Kipnis, Karl Richter, George Malcolm, Anthony Newman, were done by harpsichordists who predate the period practice movement’s most rigid dogmas (or, in Newman’s case, was severely controversial within it). By the time history arrived at historically informed performance ‘Giants’ like Gustav Leonhardt and Trevor Pinnock, the doors of perception were closed, and the Goldberg Variations became just another dusty ‘masterpiece’ which you appreciated without feeling any true passion for it
And that leaves two. Two that trump even Wanda Landowska herself. The English keyboardist and conductor, George Malcolm, is one of the forgotten heroes of Baroque music. He, understandably, hated the modern harpsichord, and pledged himself to the newer model harpsichords with modern accoutrements. No harpsichord, not even Landowska’s, sounds like this. In his 1963 recording, is none of the percussive hardness which usually pervades baroque keyboard instruments. The notes on this instrument sound as though they’re being plucked by human finger, in a sound that is the perfect mix of harpsichord, organ, guitar, lute, and piano. Oh… and the interpretation ain’t bad either.
Mark Berry (2013)
I agree and disagree in almost equal measure: quite an achievement, though I'm not sure whose...! Malcolm: yes, a true musician, appallingly undervalued. (His recordings of Bach concertos with the young Schiff as soloist seem to be better than Schiff's later versions.)
Evan Tucker (2013)
George Malcolm will come back once the pendulum reswings, I'm sure of that.
Schiff on the Goldbergs
The old Decca recording, long regarded by music critics as one of the most distinguished Goldberg interpretations, was the work of an exceptional young musician who had already been playing the work for a decade. Indeed, even before his first public performance of the work, in Budapest in 1975, he had been “slowly working on it for four to five years.”
From: A History of the Harpsichord, Vol. 1, ed. Edward L. Kottick (2003)
See cartoon below left
JEANS: Well, Mr. Thomas Goff of course uses . . . well he uses condor quills.
THE HARPSICHORD: Where does he find them? They must be very expensive.
JEANS: Yes. Yes. He gets them from the British zoo. I guess they just pull a few feathers out from time to time, and of course they grow back, but for a while I think the birds must look very strange indeed. He makes beautiful instruments, Mr. Goff.
From an interview with Susi Jeans
I heard a concert in London on a clavichord by Thomas Goff and this reaffirmed my interest in a concrete way. I found that in England the clavichord had a certain very private following. I got to know Goff, who arranged for me to practice on one of his clavichords in the home of a friend of Winston Churchill. He also took me to see Raymond Russell, where I was overwhelmed by the live sounds of his antique keyboard instruments. Joan Benson (1999)
38 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where George lived with his mother for many years
In the 1960s I plagued every harpsichord maker I could find and attended every recital and Baroque programme available in and around the London area. Those I visited included: Tom Goff, Bob Goble, John Morley, Alf Reeve, Leslie Ward at Dolmetsch's, Wm. de Blaise, John Feldberg, and on one occasion I drove my ancient car all the way to visit Alec Hodsdon, whose ideas I likes very much. My greatest regret at that time was that I didn't meet Hugh Gough who by then had moved to New York. I did however encounter one of his beautiful doubles, owned by Lina Lalandi, who by the worst of chances, lived next door to Tom Goff (who hated both her and her harpsichord!!!) About instrument availability; In the London area, Tom Goff had rentals pretty well sewn up, but elsewhwere in the country, Goble and de Blaise were the most easily found in performances. Many performers took their own instruments with them: Millicent Silver always travelled with her Goble for instance. And regularly, private owners would make their instrument available to visiting musicians. Peter Redstone (harpsichord maker)
Although Thurston Dart sometimes used historical instruments, some of which he restored himself, he apparently preferred modern steel-framed “revival” harpsichords. From 1951 he was involved in the annual quadruple-harpsichord jamborees at the Royal Festival Hall with George Malcolm, Eileen Joyce and Denis Vaughan (who was instrumental in the creation of the UK National Lottery) – all playing “whispering giants’” which needed to be amplified to balance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The conductor was Boris Ord, another unsung early music pioneer. On the appearance in July 1957 of a recording, the Gramophone reviewer enthused as follows: Those who have enjoyed, year after year, the unique Festival Hall concerts at which Mr. Thomas Goff assembles a resplendent quartet of his inimitable harpsichords, will rejoice that some part of this hardy annual repertoire is at last made available on disc.
Benjamin Britten and his uneasy influence loom large here, and of special interest to Tablet readers are two sections about George Malcolm and his pioneering work at Westminster Cathedral, giving the boys voices “the sort of sound they had in the playground”, the texture which inspired Britten’s classic Missa Brevis. Nicholas Kenyon, Tablet (2006)
Above: From a letter to Robert Descombes after a recital in Lyon (1969)
This item is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.
The Saint Cecilia Petition
To the Right Reverend Fathers-in-God, the Clergy, and the Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England.
FATHERS AND BRETHREN
We the undersigned, desire to maintain the musical inheritance associated with the Anglican and Roman traditions. We recognise a positive aspect to change in the ordering of worship, and would want to encourage fresh and powerful contributions to a developing tradition. Nevertheless there are ominous signs that the repository of past achievements is in danger. The musical wealth of the churches is linked to classic texts, biblical and liturgical, of unique force and numinous power. We believe that texts and music should remain as the living patrimony of Christian communities in this country, shared by all, and that every effort should be made to ensure they are known and loved for generations to come.
Sir Lennox Berkeley, C. B. E.
Peter Maxwell Davies
Anthony Hopkins, C. B. E.
Dr Herbert Howells C. H., C. B. E.
John Joubert, Department of Music, Birmingham University
Elizabeth Poston F. R. A. M., Co-Editor The Cambridge Hymnal
Alan Ridout, Royal College of Music
Dr Edmund Rubra C. B. E.
Dr Herbert Sumsion C. B. E.
John Taverner, The Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral
Sir William Walton O. M.
Malcolm Williamson C. B. E., Master of the Queen's Music
Dame Janet Baker D. B. E.
Sir Adrian Boult C. H.
Julian Bream C. B. E.
Patrick Carnegy, Music Editor, Faber&Faber
(The Late) Alfred Deller C. B. E.
George Malcolm, Papal Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great; Sometime Master of the Music, Westminster Cathedral
Sir Peter Pears C. B. E.
John Shirley-Quirk C. B. E.
Ursula Vaughan Williams
Meredith Davies, Principal Designate Trinity College of Music; Conductor Royal Choral Society
Charles Farncombe, Director, Handel Opera Society
Dr George Guest, President Royal College of Organists; Director of Music St John's College, Cambridge University
John Hosier, Principal the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Dr Gerard Knight C. B. E., Formerly Director of the Royal School of Church Music
Dr W. S. Lloyd-Webber, Director London College of Music; Director of Music, Central Hall, Westminster
Sir Anthony Lewis C. B. E., Principal Royal Academy of Music
Dr David Lumsden, Principal Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
Professor Denis Stevens D. H. L., F. S. A. Accademia Monteverdiana
Sir David Willcocks C. B. E., M. C., Principal Royal College of Music
Dr H. Watkins Shaw F. S. A. Librarian and Fellow Royal College of Music
Dr John Wray, Dean of Studies of Music, Royal Northern College of Music
Kenneth Beard, Rector Chori, Southwell Minster
Sir Ernest Bullock C. V. C., Sometime Organist Westminster Abbey and Principal Royal College of Music
Anthony Crossland, Master of the Choristers, Wells Cathedral
Barry Ferguson, Master of the Choristers, Rochester Cathedral
Roger Fisher, Master of the Choristers, Chester Cathedral
Christopher Gower, Master of the Choristers, Peterborough Cathedral
Clifford Harker, Master of the Choristers, Bristol Cathedral
Dr Donald Hunt, Master of the Choristers, Worcester Cathedral
Peter Hurford, Lately Master of the Music, St Albans Cathedral
Dr Francis Jackson, Master of the Choristers, York Minster
Ian Little, Master of the Choristers, Coventry Cathedral
Dr Philip Marshall, Master of the Choristers, Lincoln Cathedral
Roy Massey, Master of the Choristers, Hereford Cathedral
Graham Matthews, Organist, Sheffield Cathedral
Michael Nicholas, Master of the Music, Norwich Cathedral
Ronald Perrin, Master of the Choristers, Ripon Cathedral
Noel Rawsthorne, Master of the Music, Liverpool Cathedral
Keith Rhodes, Master of the Choristers, Bradford Cathedral
Wallace Ross, Master of the Music, Derby Cathedral
John Sanders, Master of the Music, Gloucester Cathedral
Richard Seal, Master of the Choristers, Salisbury Cathedral
Dr Arthur Wills, Master of the Music, Ely Cathedral
Dr Stanley Vann, Lately Master of the Music, Peterborough Cathedral
Robert Vincent, Master of the Music, Manchester Cathedral
Dr William Cole M. V. O., Master of the Choristers, Wells Cathedral
J. E. Cox, Organist, Twerton Parich Church
Denys Darlow, Director of Music, St George's Hanover Square; Royal College of Music
Andrew I. Fletcher, Director of Music, Collegiate Church of St Mary, warwick
Ronald Frost, Organist, st Ann's Manchester; Chorus Master Hallé Concerts Society
Dr Harry Gabb C. V. O., Sometime Organist and Composer, H. M. Chapels Royal
Timothy Goulter, Assistant Director of Music, Wells Cathedral School
Dr Douglas Guest C. V. O., Organist and Master of the Choristers Westminster Abbey
Richard Hickox, Director of Music, st Margaret's Westminster
J. D. Holroyd, Master of the Choristers, Bath Abbey
Philip Ledger, Director of Music, Kings College, Cambridge
Dr P. G. Le Huray, St Catherine's College Cambridge
Dr Richard Marlow, Trinity College, Cambridge
Andrew Morris, Director of Music, St Bartholomew-the-Great
Margaret Phillips, Director of Music, St Lawrence-next-Guildhall
Richard Popplewell, Organist, Choirmaster and Composer H. M. Chapels Royal, St James' Palace
Dr Christopher Robinson, Organist, St George's Chapel, Windsor
Dr Bernard Rose, Informator Choristarum, Magdalen College, Oxford
M. Sealy, Sub-Organist, Bath Abbey
Eric Spencer, Organist, Brighton Parish Church
Dr G. Thalben-Ball, Organist, The Temple Church
William Whittle, Director of Music, Wells Cathedral School
Herrick Bunney M. V. O., Organist St Giles&39; Edinburgh
David Goddard, Royal College of Organists
Dr Michael J. Smith, Master of the Choristers, Llandaff Cathedral
John R. Turner, Master of the Music, Glasgow Cathedral
S. J. Cleobury, Master of the Music, Westminster Cathedral
Philip E. Duffy, Master of the Music, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
Terence Duffy, Organist, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
Shaun MacCarthy, Master of the Music, St George's Cathedral Southwark
Nicholas Danby, Church of Immaculate Conception, Farm St.
W. W. L. Baker, Royal College of Organists
Dr V. Butcher, Music Librarian, Worcester Cathedral
The Rev. Bernard Fernyhough, Archdeacon of Oakham
Inglis Gundry, Extra Mural Departments of London, Cambridge and Surrey Universities
Professor Brian Harvey, Professor of Law, Birmingham University
Professor Sir Bernard Lovell F. R. S., Professor of Radio Astronomy, Jodrell Bank, Manchester University
The Very Rev. P. R. Mitchell, Dean of Wells
Professor Roy Moore C. B. E., Late Head Master, Mill Hill School
Harry Pitt, Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford University
K. Graham Routledge, Precentor, Peterborough Cathedral
Canon D. Rutter, Precentor, Lincoln Cathedral
R. S. Thompson, Former Headmaster, Bloxham School
from Gravesend School:
Roger Bourne, Head of Modern Languages
John Meldrum, Head of Geography
John Moore Edward Stead, Head of English
A. J. Watson-Wennyss, Head of Classics
from The Choir, Kings College, Cambridge:
Simon Brown, Choral Scholar Martin Bussey, Choral Scholar
Julian Cope, Choral Scholar David Cordier, Choral Scholar
Charles Daniels, Choral Scholar S. G. H. Davies, Choral Scholar
Christopher Gillett, Choral Scholar Simon P. Halsey, Choral Scholar
Nigel C. Howells, Choral Scholar David Lowe, Choral Scholar
Tim Payne, Choral Scholar James Waters, Choral Scholar
Thomas Trotter, Organ Scholar
from The Choir, Bath Abbey:
I. P. Cox D. D. Falconer M. J. P. Heaton J. C. Hopegood
J. R. Key-Pugh D. R. Norton M. H. Painting T. Snowdon
N. J. Spooner J. W. spriggs G.Targett
Thomas Goff: b London, 16 July 1898; d London, 13 March 1975). English maker of clavichords, harpsichords and lutes. He was educated at Eton and studied the piano with Irene Scharrer. After service in World War I he read history at Christ Church, Oxford, and was called to the bar. Early in 1932 he received a clavichord as a gift and was so deeply impressed that he determined to build such instruments. In 1933 he formed a partnership with J.C. Cobby, a master cabinet maker, and they established their workshop in Goff’s house. The handsome veneering and inlay work of many of their instruments, and the finely chased brass hinges, were the result of this collaboration. A number of instruments with painted cases, including a few decorated by well-known artists such as Rex Whistler, were also produced. (Grove)
“George [Guest] conjured up a unique soundworld: he was influenced by Boris Ord at King’s College; George Malcolm at Westminster Cathedral; the monks of Solesmes… but there’s no question George’s choir sounded like anything else.” Andrew Nethsingha (Gramophone)
One of the most influential choral recordings of our time was of Victoria's Tenebrae Responsories, sung with raw passion half a century ago by the Westminster Cathedral Choir under George Malcolm. Over their 30 years of recording, the Tallis Scholars have always cultivated a far smoother, more harmonious texture: Victoria's Lamentations, also for the Holy Week liturgy, are less dramatic than the Responsories, but are powerfully intense and desolate. Under Peter Phillips the pungency of the text is occasionally sacrificed to the beauty of the sound, but the balance is perfect and the recording (in Merton College chapel) is glorious.
Nicholas Kenyon, Observer (2010)
The Tenebrae Responsories is a major work in MacMillan’s choral output written for Cappella Nova in 2006 and first performed by them the following year at St Andrew’s in the Square, Glasgow. MacMillan says: ‘I have always loved the Victoria settings of these texts and preciously guarded my old, and now legendary, recording of these by the Westminster Cathedral Choir under George Malcolm. It was a delight to be asked by Cappella Nova to set some of them myself.’ (Boosey & Hawkes)
Ross and his singers are at their best here, picking up their emotional cues from the texts. From this standpoint, it is one of the most insightful accounts of Victoria's music I've heard and recalls George Malcolm's magisterial performance of the responsories for the Tenebrae. Steve Schwartz (1998)
Divine Art dda 25114 'Remembering Alfred Deller'
The disc closes with two contemporary works, the first being Elegy: The Tomb of St Eulalia , a reflective piece by Peter Racine Fricker (1920-90) for countertenor, cello and harpsichord, to a Latin text by Prudentius. It was first performed at the Wigmore Hall London in 1955 by Alfred Deller with Desmond Dupré (viola da gamba) and George Malcolm (harpsichord). Fricker was a colleague of Deller, Tippett and Bergmann at Morley College. After Deller's death, Fricker composed a companion piece to the Elegy , entitled In Commendation of Music , for soprano voice, recorder, gamba/cello and harpsichord, in memory of Deller. Elizabeth Rees (2014)
Today, the choir's brilliance is still unquestioned, though the sound has changed. The word 'unique' came to mind when I sat in the collegiate-style pews close to the choir, enraptured at what I was hearing. What an energy to the sound! In a way, the treble voices reminded me of what has been called the 'full-throated' Continental tone. Some musicologists believe it was George Malcolm, music director at the Catholic Westminster Cathedral in the 1950s and 60s, who was an early exponent of training boy sopranos in the style. However one describes this vocal approach, the Temple boys are clearly prodigious talents whose singing — perhaps more than any other treble section I know — has stayed deep in my memory, piercing the heart. L. G. Eaglesham (2014)
Over his long career [Charles Thornton Lofthouse] performed in many places around Britain (Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Reading, Winchester, Liverpool, as well as London and the East Sussex & West Kent Choral Festival) with many well-known musicians, including the pioneering viola da gamba player Ambrose Gauntlett. He played the continuo with Cuthbert Bates conducting in Bath Abbey from the inception in 1946 of the Bath Bach Festival until 1973. At the 1954 Festival he also performed in a concert with four harpsichords, with George Malcolm, Eileen Joyce, and Boris Ord, with Raymond Leppard as harpsichord continuo.
Hermione Lockyer (Semibrevity.com)
I too like the Italian Concerto, then the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue is a wonderful piece. I'm particularly fond of George Malcolm's performance on a wonderful Decca CD "The World of the Harpsichord". Talk Classical (2013)
Thurston Dart playing a Goff harpsichord
From Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande (Stephen Lloyd)
A problem here, though - the set includes a performance by the Dennis Brain Ensemble of Beethoven's Piano and Wind Quintet which, when originally issued, named Britten as the pianist. It doesn't now. No pianist is named at all. I have seen the part attributed to George Malcolm in other references to this performance. It's nice to know what you are getting. Amazon
Below: From Andras Schiff (1975)
Above & right: from Early Music, August 1989 (GM was the continuo player!)
HARPSICHORD N0. 6
In August 1956, a beautiful new harpsichord arrived in Wellington aboard the RMS Rangitoto. It had been very recently made by Thomas Goff (1898-1975, right) of London and before being shipped, it was played by George Malcolm at a concert in the Royal Festival Hall (left). Goff's instruments were considered at the time to be "the Steinways of harpsichords".
The full story of this instrument, a broadcast by James Gardener, can be found HERE.
"The Beast" is pictured below.