Saturday, June 17, 2017

New review for Conversations with George Edgar Selby

The soundtrack album to Beside the Manor Selby, Conversations with George Edgar Selby has a new review by noted musicophile Russell Hammond, of New South Wales, Australia. We present it here along with an earlier review by critic at large Boulevard Denim.

The album available as CD and digital download is available from 
Melodic Revolution Records
and also features composer Ellsworth Hall's Piano Concerto No. 1 in addition to the soundtrack material.

Conversations with George Edgar Selby (music CD - includes music from the soundtrack to Beside the Manor Selby)

On the Composer's Oeuvre

By Boulevard Denim

Ellsworth Hall occupies a peculiar place, entirely of his own creation, in the field of contemporary music.  He is a seeker after the realities of shadowy and dim illusions, an artist in grays and greens and subtle golds while still dabbling in opulent purples. Mr. Hall is of the "children of revelry," a weaver of dreams. For him, indeed, shadows and dreams are the invincible realities, and from them he derives a compelling music; music which serenely rebukes dissection.

That serenity, that innocence of intention, are indeed remarkable. After the plangent splendors, the torrential rhetoric of his earlier works, Mr. Hall's contemporary oeuvre, owing something of the subdued and elusive beauty of antique tapestries, addresses the spirit with a unique appeal.

His is music in which the emotion conveyed is the emotion of remembered rapture, the beauty, "the surviving beauty of gathered dreams;" seldom the emotion and beauty of that which is actual and present. Mr. Hall is most urgently aroused by such moods of longing and remote enchantment as find jeweled expression in Beside the Manor Selby for which he has written unforgettable music.

At times his habit of artistic  speech tempt him to such outbursts of passionate lament as fill the movements of his Piano Concerto No.1 with so insupportable a poignancy. There is the driving rhythmic asymmetry of the opening movement; the decorative flourishes surrounding the resurfacing primary theme in the second;  the modal and jazzy harmonies of the third; and the adroit use of fortspinnung (along with recapitulations of a leitmotif from the second movement) in the fourth.

Mr. Hall perceives his world with as rapt a gaze, with as complete an absorption in its emotional panorama, as the most vivid and declamatory of the moderns; but the issue of his understanding is certain veiled and continent intensity, an interior passion, a conviction implied rather than than declared. That is, finally, the peculiarity of his art.

Track by track review by Russell Hammond (with gracious permission)

There is light and darkness together with tension and release within the same track
and if not, then with the next track. I have not seen ‘Besides the
Manor Selby’ and I can only comment on the music:

Lento e Allegro – my favourite instrumental track from the album and a
worthy opener. I love its length, the way it ebbs and flows, the
different instrumentation, the drive behind the track and how you
simply stopped it. Not a wasted note and it didn’t overstay its

Andante e Presto – This one seems to have the kitchen sink thrown in
it. Quiet start and then deviates all over the place following little
themes here and there and some interesting percussion thrown in. You
definitely won’t be dancing to this track.

Allegro Moderato – Just great to sit down and let the track wash over
you. I liked the stripped back nature with enough ‘Selby’ thrown in.

Andante – the beginning didn’t win me over at all with the synth out
front. But then that was just the warm up and with different
instruments and with then the strings to round the track. Love the
piano section in the middle (a breather) and then it builds on itself
a number of times to its climax and final release – I love the
clapping at the end too.

Besides the Manor Selby Overture – This was the only track to touch me
and I wiped my eyes. To me it was thought provoking and made me
reflect on my life today.

Newsreel – this track that didn’t agree with me but it might be down to context.

After Ferdinand – Another track that starts off with drive but doesn’t
resolve itself for me – that context again. Way too short.

Round About the Garden – I can imagine what this track is trying to convey.

The Archduke Earsworth – Love a good waltz. Pleasant.

The Tower – This track took me on a not too long enjoyable journey.

Gather the Heirlooms – rather down beat track but nicely layered with
a real presence.

La Masque a Enleve – A hymn? My French is non existent but the track
gathers a real church atmosphere with that deep organ.

Verdun – Lovely piano and atmospheric (eerie?) vocals. Reminded me a
bit of a Rick Wakeman track in Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Undone in Verden – Hard to believe this follows the last track. Mostly
pastoral with that orchestral part in the middle. It could have wound
away for a few more minutes for me.

Here Lies a Wretched Corpse – If the name of a track can determine the
soundscape of a track then this is it. A bit of ‘Selby’ reprised and
it is very well layered and I could see this being at the end of the
movie or as the end credits are rolling.

In Grief Unbound – simply stunning and could have been released as a
single. Your standards for the choice of vocalist are very high – to
my ancient ears.  (editor's note - the vocalist here is the remarkable Dyan Brown)

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