The Hancock Ensemble – Julius Tannenbaum, cond. – Harold Whitcraft, tenor – MBS-KHJ – February 6, 1938 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Another concert of small works, some unfamiliar, performed by local ensembles and broadcast in the 1930s. This one featuring the Hancock Ensemble, founded and led by G. Allan Hancock and featuring Julius Tannenbaum as guest conductor along with Harold Whitcraft, Tenor.
This was a half-hour program, produced locally by the Mutual network and originating from the studios of KHJ on February 6, 1938.
The Music played would be characterized as “light” but there are a few unfamiliar pieces, including one by the French conductor who was also a composer and contemporary of Guy Ropartz, Rhené Baton.
The program opens with Coleridge-Taylor’s Valse Rustique – and continues with Rhené Baton’s Return From The Fair. It’s followed by Schubert’s Ständchen with Tenor Harold Whitcraft as soloist. Then another unfamiliar piece; Minuet by Giovanni Bolzoni – Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Whitcraft returns for a performance of Paolo Tosti’s Aprile and concludes with Schumann’s Warum.
Like I said; light, not demanding and with a couple of unfamiliar works.
René-Emmanuel Baton, known as Rhené-Baton (5 September 1879 – 23 September 1940), was a French conductor and composer. Though born in Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, his family originated in Vitré in neighboring Brittany. He returned to the region at the age of 19, and many of his compositions express his love of the area. He also had close relationships with composers of the Breton cultural renaissance, notably Guy Ropartz, Paul Le Flem, Paul Ladmirault and Louis Aubert. As a conductor he was notable for his attempts to expand appreciation of classical music.
He studied piano at the Paris Conservatory and learned music theory under André Gedalge. He began his career as a chef de chant at the Opera-Comique in 1907. He was then appointed as musical director of various orchestral groups, notably the Society of Saint Cecilia in Bordeaux and Angers Société populaire (1910–1912).
In 1910 he was chosen to head the “Festival of French music” in Munich, Germany. Serge Diaghilev requested that he conduct the Ballets Russes in London and South America (1912–1913). During World War I he was the head of the Dutch Royal Opera (1916–18) and held summer concerts of the Orchestra in Residence of the Hague in Scheveningen (1914–19). Although his recordings are few, on 14, 17, and 18 October 1924 with the Pasdeloup Orchestra he committed to disc the first ever recording of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.
Serge Sandberg entrusted him with the direction of the Pasdeloup concert (the French “Proms”), the mission of which was to democratize access to music, providing commentary and analysis prior to the performance of works. He organized this event until 1932 and continued to lead the orchestra until the end of his life. He died at Le Mans.
He created the first performances of a number of notable musical works:
Les Evocations by Albert Roussel (1912)
Printemps by Claude Debussy (1913)
Habanera by Louis Aubert (1919)
Alborada del gracioso (1919) and Le tombeau de Couperin by Maurice Ravel
Les Agrestides and the Organ Symphony by Georges Migot (1922)
Requiem by Guy Ropartz (1939)
Arthur Honegger dedicated Le Chant de Nigamon (1918) to Rhené-Baton, as did Albert Roussel with his 2nd symphony (1923).
Sorry it’s only one piece by Baton – it would have been nice to have more. But better than nothing.
Enjoy the show.