Sunday, October 03, 2010

Walter Leigh - Concertino for Harpsichord and Strings

Been meaning to post this for ages. IMHO it's one of the great neglected pieces of English classical music. I'm always impressed by the sheer confidence of the first movement - as if he's been turning out harpsichord concertos for ever - and the second movement is lovely.

This is a somewhat hissy, midfi recording from my battered 1970s copy with Neville Dilkes and the English Sinfonia. While the vinyl is not available on CD (it also featured Warlock, John Ireland, Butterworth and Moeran) the Dilkes Concertino and the John Ireland is on CD here.

Walter Leigh was killed at Tobruk in 1942 in a friendly fire incident. He's buried here. Quite apart from the loss to his family - he left three children and a delightful wife, think of all that music we never got to hear, and never will hear.
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Trooper (he's L/Cpl in the Regimental Diary - LT)
Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps
Unit Text: 4th Queen's Own Hussars
Date of Death: 12/06/1942
Service No: 7931725
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 10. A. 23.

RHQ, C and HQ Sqns left EL DUDA at 0630 hours for CAPUZZO area, arriving 1500 hours at BIR BEDER. A Sqn, 6 Stuarts, with 4 Stuarts, 3 Grants and 1 Crusader attached, remained at EL DUDA as rearguard to TDS. At EL DUDA the Sqn was machine gunned by one of our own fighters, resulting in the death of Sgt Shill, LCpl Duckering and LCpl Leigh. One OR was wounded. The deceased were buried at approx 428412. B Sqn. At 1430 hours, the Sqn (10 Grants) with 1 Crusader (3rd CLY) attached, was ordered to engage 8 Armd Cars and 9 M13’s at MADURET EL GHESCEUASC. Whilst engaging these, approx 12 Mk IIIs and 8 MK IVs, supported by 8 x 88mm and a number of 50mm guns, appeared from the direction of B.702 384402. From this action only 1 Tank succeeded in escaping. This was 2Lt Cartmell. Apart from this crew, only 2Lt RGH Walker and Cpl Murray have returned, both wounded. Nothing further is known about the rest of the Tank crews. A Echelon was attacked by high level bombers at 384416. Tpr Hyde and Tpr Hilliard were killed and were buried on the spot. No personal effects could be recovered. LCpl Chattaway, LCpl Vyse and Tpr Deacon were wounded. LCpl Chattaway died of wounds later the same day.
Leigh wrote a lot of film and incidental music. Everyone knows the famous Post Office film 'Night Mail', but the GPO commissioned many short films in the 1930s. Here's the composer's sister, actress Charlotte Leigh, explaining the new-fangled phone system (music by Walter and chorus of GPO switchboard girls). Love that enunciation :

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The concertino is available in two or three recordings - including a remastered cd version of your vinyl recording, available on Amazon for £15.