Graham Whettam (1927–2007) was a largely self-taught composer who occupies a place in the English symphonic tradition. His works include five symphonies – among them the Sinfonia Contra Timore and the Promethean Symphony – and a wealth of chamber works, including four string quartets, various trios and a series of works for solo instruments.
Spanning a period of over 40 years, Whettam's works for solo violin are informed and directed by compositional rigour, technical assurance and an analytical musical grammar but, at the same time, are full of vivid colour, dramatic inventiveness and, above all, a sense of deep humanity. We firmly believe these works are deserving of a wider audience than they have enjoyed hitherto, and we are therefore working with the acclaimed label EM Records to present their World Première recordings, for release worldwide on audio CD and digital download.
Who we are
The recording is to be made by the internationally-acclaimed violinist Rupert Marshall-Luck, whose solo performances have been frequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3, ABC Classic FM (Australia), RTÉ (Ireland), SABC (South Africa), Radio Suisse Romande (Switzerland), and in Canada, France, New Zealand and the USA.
Please visit Rupert's website at www.rupertmarshall-luck.com for more about his work.
Rupert Marshall-Luck’s handsome tone and laser-like tuning are remarkable in themselves.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Marshall-Luck is an ideal interpreter: generously but not effusively lyrical; agile and athletic.
His technique and intonation are flawless, and each work is projected with knowing sensitivity and communicative expression.
We should never take the redoubtable Rupert Marshall-Luck for granted. Here is a man who continues to introduce us to works that the years have discarded and trodden down. He brings them to us not as something fusty and dusty but as precious and joyous. His many discs leave us in no doubt of his great artistry and advocacy. It’s an extraordinary heritage that he is laying down.
EM Records (www.em-records.com) is the recording arm of the English Music Festival and, as such, fulfils the EMF’s aims of celebrating and preserving overlooked works by British composers throughout the centuries. EM Records resolves to bring this glorious music to a world-wide audience by committing to recorded format some of the treasures that the EMF unearths, giving listeners the chance to experience the fullest possible range of the Festival's work. In keeping with the unique spirit of the Festival, each disc released by EM Records contains at least one World Première recording.
In 2016, Rupert was approached by Christine Talbot-Cooper, Chairman of the Gloucester Music Society and a Vice-President and Administrator of the Piano Trio Society, about the solo-violin music of Graham Whettam. Christine has been an admirer and champion of Whettam's music for many years, encouraging, for instance, the Carducci Quartet to perform his first String Quartet, a work which they later recorded, alongside the String Quartet no.4, on their own label, Carducci Classics (CSQ5847). Rupert himself attended, several years ago, a memorable performance by Yossi Zivoni at the Cheltenham Music Festival of Whettam's third solo-violin sonata; and this vivid experience meant that, with Christine's approach, his enthusiasm was immediately kindled. Once the works' scores had been reissued by Edition Peters, Rupert had the opportunity to examine them in full and was struck by their detail and depth, as well as by the strongly idiomatic writing, a response that was heightened still further when he performed the first solo sonata at a recital for the Gloucester Music Society in Gloucester Cathedral earlier this year.
We are convinced that these pieces, with their passion, sincerity and integrity, should be performed and heard more widely; and it is our hope that this planned recording will help to reawaken musicians' and audiences' interest in Graham Whettam's work, and lead to more opportunities for performances and recordings of his music generally.
Your donations will contribute directly to the expenses that such a project involves. Making a commercial recording is time-consuming and expensive, with outlays including fees for the recording producer and engineer; venue hire; and for travel and accommodation expenses. After the recording sessions have finished and the editing completed, CDs must be manufactured and the booklet designed and printed.
We have worked hard to keep the costs of the project as low as possible, consistent with delivering a high-quality product; and we have been very fortunate in securing the support of the RVW Trust, which has made a generous financial contribution.
This pie-chart shows the make-up of the project's expenditure.
What are the works that are to be recorded?
Graham Whettam wrote three Sonatas for solo violin, all of which are extensive pieces of three or four movements each. There are also two single-movement works: Romanza no.1 and Romanza no.2, both of which were written for friends and colleagues: no.2, for instance, is dedicated to Hilary Groves, the wife of the eminent conductor Sir Charles Groves.
Where will the recording take place?
We are very fortunate to have secured the beautiful church of St Andrew in Toddington as a venue for this very special recording. The church has a marvellous acoustic and will be ideal for this repertoire.
How long will the recording process take?
The recording sessions themselves – the actual recording of the music – will take two days: during this time, the works will be played in their entirety, probably at least twice, before being split up into smaller sections. The sound engineer is responsible for ensuring that a realistic sound is captured by the microphones; and the sessions are directed by the producer in consulation with the performer.
After the recording is made, it needs to be edited: that is, the best of the performances of various sections are put together to form a seamless rendition of each work. Edits are prepared by the producer and, at each stage of the process, the performer is given the opportunity to comment on what has been done.
It's an intensive but extremely enjoyable experience! If you're interested in the recording process, please do pledge to a level that will entitle you to attend the recording sessions (£200 or above)!