British Light Music Discoveries 4
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.