Eleventh Concert from Queen's Hall, London
(Sole Lessens, Messrs. Chappetl and Co. Ltd.)
May Blyth (soprano)
Paul Beard (violin)
The BBC Symphony Orchestra
Leader, Paul Beard
Conductor, Sir Adrian Boult
Listeners will remember that a complete concert version of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck was performed at Queen's Hall at a BBC Symphony Concert in 1934. The libretto compresses into fifteen scenes the play of the same name by Georg Buchner, who died in 1831. Although belonging to the early romantic period of literature, it is more in keeping with the modern spirit of stark realism.
The story runs roughly as follows: Wozzeck himself, a humble soldier, is tormented constantly by the impossibility of adjusting his mental outlook to his own surroundings, and in the end kills his sweetheart, Marie, not so much from jealousy of her apparent preference for the handsome drum major, as in a fit of neurotic madness, which leads him, too, to take his own life.
The first of the three extracts to be heard this evening begins at the close of the second scene. The second extract comes from the beginning of Act 3. It is a theme with seven variations and a fugue. The third extract comes at the end of the opera.
Versatile Artist May Blyth, who gave the first concert performance in England of these Fragments, and also took part in the complete concert version, won the Sainton Dolby Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in 1916. She was one of the first members of the British National Opera Company, for which she sang several of the principal Wagnerian roles, and she has also appeared on many occasions with the Covent Garden Opera Company.
Miss Blyth's association with the BBC goes back to the summer of 1923, when she made her microphone debut. Her gifts, however, are not restricted to opera, for she is an equally fine singer of German lieder and English song. Her husband, by the way, is Aylmer Buesst, the well-known conductor.