Chasing Moonbeams (Paul Guinery)
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
Delightful discoveries abound. Look no further than the opening track, Blue Blazes by Joseph Tunbridge, one of seven world premiere recordings
Paul Guinery pf
Following the success of Vol 1 – The Dicky Bird Hop (EMR CD064), which I welcomed last year – Paul Guinery follows up with a second equally enjoyable collection plucked from the vast library of forgotten British light music.
Though many of this album's 16 composers will be familiar, few of the 21 numbers are known today. In the Shadows (1910) by Herman Fink is undoubtedly the most commercially successful piece, while Reginald Foresythe's Serenade for a Wealthy Widow was a big dance band hit in the 1930s.
Delightful discoveries abound. Look no further than the opening track, Blue Blazes by Joseph Tunbridge, one of seven world premiere recordings. This is followed by Dreamy Afternoon from the pen of Iris Taylor, the pseudonym of Fred Hartley (1905-80), a stalwart of BBC radio light music for three decades. After that, another pseudonym: Sherman Myers, one of the several disguises adopted by Montague Ewing (1890-1937) famous for his 1911 hit The Policeman's Holiday.
The disc's title track presents Guinery with a rare opportunity for some dazzling presto fingerwork. Elsewhere, there are pianistic challenges from the thorny rhythmic figurations of Mayerl's Fireside Fusiliers, Harry Engleman's Ivory Antics and the world premiere of Douglas Brownsmith's catchy Larry the Lamb, a salute to the puppet character in the BBC's immensely popular Children's Hour.
Echoes of Elgar, Grainger and Gershwin are evident at various points throughout. Personal taste means some pieces are less appealing than others (Madeleine Dring's Times Change, for instance, and Cyril Scott's Vesperale), while several would fail to enchant were it not for Guinery's playing. His empathy with the genre, his rhythmic acuity and rich chordal voicing, the delicate precision he brings to some of the surprisingly tricky writing, and the shrewd variety of the running order, all contribute to a charming 74 minutes, Moreover, Guinery's extensive 40-page booklet is extremely diligently researched and presented. He has been handsomely recorded by Oscar Torres and producer Sarah Devonald.