Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The Mashenka Waltz Peter Greenwell & Gordon Langford
For fun I am orchestrating the music from a musical 'The House of Cards' I was in, in London. At the time it was a box office disaster and critical failure but it seems now to be coming rather famous as an example of professional nastiness. In the past it was possible to exclude anyone that the Establishment didn't like. In the 1960's the Establishment did not 'like gay men' and sent them to prison. The librettist Peter Wildeblood a remarkable, brilliant man had already suffered this fate along with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.
The Players Theatre was a 'gay haven' and virtually every male involved with the production was gay at a time when being 'gay' was very dangerous. It was a very nasty time indeed. The musical was delightful, witty and sharp. It did require a certain amount of intelligence to get the full meaning which was out and out greedy capitalism is not a 'good thing'. The critics had a field day with the exception of Bernard Levin, the arch destroyer of the West End theatre, who liked it.'Go to see this' headed his review in the Daily Mail, the only good one we got.
I loved it and so it appears does Andrew Lloyd Weber!!! who says it is one of his favorite musicals. Everyone who saw it loved it and I adored being in it but not a photo or a record remains except for some sheet music and now in hindsight it appears that the critics got it wrong. They did!
I still have the script and now I can use Garageband I can bring the music of 'The House of Cards' to life again. I have the time and enthusiasm and at least there will be a record for posterity. I am not sure if I am allowed to do this but it is for educational reasons and nobody else is going to do it for there is absolutely not a penny in it at the moment. If I don't do it it will be forgotten. That really is one of the messages of the 'House of Cards' greed triumphs over art.
There are now only five people alive who were connected with the musical. One is the brilliant orchestral arranger Gordon Langford who has orchestrated 'Waltzing Mathilda' for Australia! I have tried to contact him but in three months I have failed to find him. In a sane world I could write it out digitally and he could arrange it far better than I. Langford gave an interview where he discussed his arrangement. He included trombones but no strings. Langford said the' Mashenka Waltz' by Peter Greenwell was worth saving and needed a full orchestral arrangement. He's absolutley right about this. Very 'Blue Danube' and 'Waltz of Flowers' genre.
Yesterday with nothing to do I heard again 'The Mashenka Wal'tz with full orchestra and Hollywood strings for the first time since 1963. We never heard it like this at the Phoenix! In fact today 'raw' sound sounds awful. It is so Tchaikovsky! I, who could never play a note on the piano and struggled with 1st year Harmony at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and who could never see the point as I would never arrange anything, experienced the delight and power a conductor has over a symphony orchestra. A little more trombone and less timpani. Oh magic!
I could never really read traditional music. Scores that my husband poured over were a mystery to me. and yet with Garageband and a change of notation all is different. Now I can see what musicians can see and it is just so wonderful. Garageband and Midi is like the thrill I encountered with getting a Spellcheck. It allowed me to become 'normal' and enjoy musical notation.
Yesterday I added the Hollywood Stings to the trombone section and the influence of Tchaikovsky on the score became apparent to me for the very first time. That is how Tchaikovsky got his effect of majesty and power and I had achieved it on my computer with a free programme 45 years later!
I shall arrange and perform all the songs for which I have music and at least they will be there for the world to enjoy when it wakes up. It will take time. Oh why is life so short and why did I not have Garageband when I was 18!