"Consort with a Swing", was one of several works which I purchased in June 1983 intended for use by the Schwanewede Recorder Consort. It later proved to be one of the best purchases I had ever made as it was played intensively by The Schwanewede Recorder Consort
, the Blue Monday
and Blue Tuesday consorts . It has four pieces:
Red Rose Rag
, Fig Leaf Rag
, The Yale Blues
and Bach Goes to Town
The preface has a delightful performance note which I would like to quote:
The arrangements in this collection may be described as "fun music for serious players", providing a (wholly musical) relaxation from the more traditional consort repertoire.
Their successful performance will depend not only on skilful ensemble playing but also on an appreciation of the nature of swing. The key to this is "quavers inégale" - an unexpected but appropriate parallel with the Golden Age of the Recorder!.
Over the years it has been my wry amusement here in Germany in trying to pass on this message in a recorder culture steeped in baroque whereby the first beat in the bar comes like a Swiss precision clockwork with all the charm of a machine gun bullet. Nevertheless there have been sufficient occasions and enough people (no names mentioned) able to make the transition that I can say the efforts have been more than worthwhile.
Red Rose Rag
composed by Wenrich
(1880-1952), arranged by Hugh Blake
I first heard "Red Rose Rag" being played by The Christopher Whitehead Girl's School Worcester Recorder Ensemble, directed by Glenis Cole at the Waldschule, Schwanewede in April 1982. This inspired us in The Schwanewede Recorder Consort
to also take it into our repertoire in due course.
Of all the rags listed in these pages, "Red Rose Rag" is probably the easiest and is well-suited to beginners. A common fault is to play it too fast, youthful enthusiasm is sometimes hard restrain - or they just want to finish it quickly! The performance notes stress that it should be played airily, not too legato with the syncopated notes lightly stressed.
Fig Leaf Rag
composed by Joplin
(1868-1917), arranged by Hugh Blake
Quartet: D/A/T/B rmfigleaf.mid
This version of "Fig Leaf Rag" is much easier than that of Christa Sokoll's
no doubt being at players of intermediate proficiencies or beginners. Along with Red Rose Rag
it was very much played by The Schwanewede Recorder Consort
, Blue Monday
and Blue Tuesday
as ideal introductions into Scott Joplin's world. The performance notes stress that it should be played airily, not too legato with the syncopated notes lightly stressed.
It was also played reluctantly by Quartettino
who in the main, considered in to be somewhat infra dig and should not be taken seriously.
Yale Blues, The
||Recorder Memories: Quartettino
composed by Knox and Vivian Ellis
, arranged by Philip Evry
"The Yale Blues" is a very happy piece of medium difficulty which was regularly played by the Blue Monday
and Blue Tuesday consorts. The tenor and bass have a pretty quiet time of while the descant and two trebles (playing mostly thirds) battle it out at the top.. It has lovely long passages where you can really swing.
Bach Goes to Town
composed by Templeton
(1909-1963), arranged by Brian Davey
This trio "Bach goes to town" (Prelude and Fugue) is probably the most difficult of the four works in "Consort With A swing" with its many grace notes as well as the top Fs and Bbs required of the treble. The bass part is a lot of fun however. I very much like the contrast between the somewhat sombre Prelude and the gay Fugue. Brian Davey has arranged this work such that the bass part can be played by either tenor recorder which makes for close harmonic texture or the bass recorder which gives a greater sonority.
Experiments by myself with Blue Monday
in the use of both bass and tenor for the bass part were a failure. Instruments playing in unison an octave apart may sound good with an Ulster Flute band but sound a little odd when done with recorders!