Back up to Canada this week for a world premier recording of Sea to Sea by the much loved Canadian composer and Conductor Alexander Brott, who leads the Montreal Symphony in this broadcast premier via a 78 rpm set of Canadian Transcriptions.
Brott originally began his career as a violinist and was the founding member of the McGill String Quartet in 1939 in which he played first violin. He was also a member of the CBC Trio, which gave many first performances and was the first Trio to perform the complete Beethoven Trios over Canadian radio. He later made his conducting debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1939 and it was around this time that he established himself as a composer of some note.
Over the years, he split his time between conducting, performing and teaching, and it was only because of a hand injury he was forced to give up the violin and continue on as conductor and composer.
Brott enjoyed a long career as conductor, performing with most all the symphony orchestras in Canada, as well as guest conducting a number of European Orchestras in concerts of works by Canadian composers, which Brott frequently promoted not only in Europe, but throughout the U.S. He was frequently referred to in the press throughout the world as one of Canada’s Greatest Conductors.
As I said, this radio recording is the world premier of Sea to Sea, which he completed in 1947. He would later re-record the work with the CBC Montreal Symphony in 1985, but this is the first one, and so it carries a certain historic cache to it.
The music of Alexander Brott is still widely performed in Canada, while not so much in the U.S. or Europe for that matter. His Sea to Sea is a highly evocative piece of music, conservative in execution but an enjoyable work strongly reminiscent of the music coming out of the Eastman School around this time; tuneful and nationalistic in flavor.
If you aren’t familiar with the music of Alexander Brott, here’s a good place to start – nothing to strain your enjoyment or cause you to run to the volume because it’s lyrical and well-executed.
And on this particular Sunday night, that seems to work.