Composer of 'S'

Philip Sainton (1891-1967)

An English composer and a viola player. Middle name is Prosper. Born at Arques-la-Bataille, Seine-Maritime in November 10th ,1891. His grandfather was famous French violinist Philip Sainton as well as his grandmother was alto singer Helen Dolby. He grew up in such an musical environment. When he was 16, he entered Royal College of Music where he studied composition under Frederick Corder and viola under Lionel Tertis. During the first world war, he went to the middle east as a chemist. After the war, he became a principal viola player of the Queen's Hall Orchestra as well as a member of London String Quartet in 1929. In addition, he was appointed as a second viola player of BBC symphony in 1930 (at the time, the principal was Bernard Shore, who gave the premier for Sainton's serenade fantasque. Sainton would succeed the position later on) which he kept the position until 1944. As a composer, he came to be noticed first for his 'Sea pictures' which was performed in 1923 by BBC symphony. In 1939, with his tone poem 'Island' he established his name as an composer of impressionistic coloration. He was also active as an arranger and orchestrated many compositions of J.S. Gerber, an south african composer as well as an educator in Guildhall Music as a conducting professor. Today, however, most of all his name is remembered just as a composer who has written the score of 'Moby Dick' movie (Director: John Houston). He died at Petersfield in Humpshire, on 2nd of September, 1967. His life and works is still largely unclear. Perhaps, some of the reason stem from the fact that he has destroyed many of his youthful works by himself. (2006 ©K.S.)

Main Works

Ballet The dream of the marionette (1929)
Sea pictures (1923/1924)
Herlequin and Columbine (pub. 1925)
Tone poem 'the island' (1939)
Caricature for orchestra (1940)
Mechanical energy (1940)
Tone poem 'Nadir' (1942)
Suite from Moby Dick (1956) ... taken from his film music
Carnival (-)
Phantom gavotte (-)
A king in New York (-) ...
caricature (-)
the clipper (-)
Concerto Sérénade fantastique (pub. 1935) {vla, ob, orch}
Songs he was my king (-)
leaves, shadows and dreams (-)
night in spring (-)
wind bell (-)
shieling song (-)
Jonah's hymn - from Moby Dick (-)
Arrangements balaton (-) ...orchestration of J.S.Gerber's work
fiesta (-) ...
orchestration of J.S.Gerber's work
stonehenge (-) ...
orchestration of J.S.Gerber's work

Sainton Disc Review

"The Island (Sainton) The Trees so High - Symphonic Ballad (Hadley)" (Chandos : CHAN 9181)
Matthias Bamert (cond) David Wilson-Johnson (btn) Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus
Swiss-born conductor, Bamert had worked as the assistant of G.Szell in Cleveland before was assigned as director of Basel philharmonic in 1977. Then he became proncipal guest of Royal Scottish Symphony in 1985 as well as the music director of London Mozert Players in 1993. This first book of Sainton-Hadley connection partly explains why he was welcomed in England although of his native country. As far as I know, these two discs still provides only oppotunity of listenning Sainton's works until now (in 2006). 'The Island' beame the work that brought the composer's fame. In 1942, it was performed by BBC Symphony. Henry Wood, a famous Englush conductor listened it and highly praised. Then in 1948, it was again performed on Cheltenham Music festival under the direction of famous Barbirolli. It became one of the cherished works through 1960s. In fact, the work bravely tells the author's masterly through its sophisticated key-change technique and harmonic coloration that resemble with Debussy in 'La demoiselle elue' era, whereas its rhythmic content is clearer and massive such that of Moeran and Bax. It is hard to believe the works has written by a viola player bacause of its skillful writing although the middle extended section can be polished more and the sudden ending is too abrupt. The coupling Hadley is a pupil of V-Williams. He is also a foggotten composer although the degree is less than the coupled one. The work shows that he was far feminine - modest english romantist. More pastorale-like and my-paced german romantic form indicates he was a naturalist and regionalist. Reflecting his way of life, the density of the content is lower than other composers because of his tranquility, it may change into his virtue if we stop the attitude of evaluating music like we spend the busy urban life.

"Nadir / The Dream of the Marionette (Sainton) La Belle dame sans Merci / One Morning in Spring / Lenten Meditations (Hadley)" (Chandos : CHAN 9539)
Matthias Bamert (cond) Neill Archer (tnr) Stephen Richardson (bass) Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus
4 years later from the first book in 1992 as above, here we had another book of Sainton-Hadley connection in 1996. As you may know already, the conductor had started to record the series of Martins to the same label which made his international fame getting much better. His well-ballanced way of conducting can be seen on these two recordings. 'Nadir' subtitled as symphonic tragedy which was written in 1942, is based on an episode of the composer that he saw a child's sudden death by bombing in Bristol while he was in military service. Such an motif apparently reflects the work. Comparing with 'The island', that can be described as bright and vivid themes that make the image of the work to be grasped easily, Nadir consists of far complicated rhythm which makes the work nationalist-dominant idiom. The sophisticated French modernist diction was replaced by Bax-Tschaikovski like heavy and dignified mood become dominant in this work. On the contrary, Marionette, written in 1929, can be characterized as French romantic feminine mood. Above all, the third movement 'dream of the Marionette' is typical ball-room dance (in a royal palace) tune in form whereas the harmony is former-Debussian rooted. Then we can conclude that he started to establish his diction from French-modernist to English modernism since he gradually came to be aware of his natinality as a composer. Hadley's coupling works shows the same tendency as we have seen in first disc. He takes more time to tell his musical language than other composers, and with hints of latter Holst's shade, he develops peaceful and tranquil at his pace. In case you might feel somewhat difficult to grasp the image of the work, it may be because of the performance. It is regrettable that the articulation of the chorus is hard to be praised.

(2006. 2. 7. uploaded)