British Light Music Discoveries 4

There is much to enjoy in this well­filled‚ spiritedly performed tray of musical canapés

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British Light Music Discoveries 4

  • (The) Padstow Lifeboat
  • Suite Française
  • Battersea Park Suite
  • Fantasy on Dover Castle
  • Dance Diversions
  • (A) Miniature Symphony
  • Partita

The most ambitious piece here is not Paul Lewis’s Miniature Symphony‚ whose four movements each last barely over a minute. It is most notable for the finaleÊ–Êa galumphing horn tune‚ which might have been written by Ron Goodwin. John Rutter’s opening Partita‚ however‚ is more expansive‚ sandwiching a gently elegiac ‘Aria’ in between a vivaciously syncopated VivaceÊ–Êperhaps a shade over­long for its light­hearted materialÊ–Êand a finale which unashamedly draws on the celebratory royalist style and characteristic harmonic progressions of Walton’s Crown Imperial.
My favourite item is Rodney Bennett’s endearingly modest Suite française‚ which uses traditional folk melodies; here the refined‚ often Ravelian scoring is quite distinctive. Arnold’s rumbustiously vigorous Padstow march brings an all­but­vulgar domination from the local foghorn‚ while William Blezard’s Battersea Park remembers pictorially and quite vividly the Festival of Britain funfair of the early 1950s‚ which he enjoyed with his family (as did I). The watery clarinet solo ‘On the Lake’ and ‘Child asleep’ make engagingly gentle interludes. I did not much take to David Fanshawe’s evocation of Dover Castle: its ambitious historical ambience is not supported by really memorable musical ideas. Attractive invention is certainly not lacking in Michael Hurd’s set of five Dance Diversions‚ nicely scored‚ mostly in pastel shades‚ and most English­sounding‚ reminding one a little of the Arnold regional Dances. All this music is played freshly and spiritedly‚ and excellently recorded. But there are so many brief vignettes in this collection‚ that one could wish for something a little substantial.

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