British Light Overtures
Just what music qualifies as ‘light’ remains a vexed question. The earliest overture in this collection‚ Walter Carroll’s Festive Overture‚ is so reminiscent of what we generally consider Sullivan’s serious musical style as to be almost a Sullivan copy. On the other hand‚ there’s no problem categorising the overture to The Arcadians‚ and I have to say that I have never heard it sound as sparkling and yet as imposing as here. The high standard of playing from Gavin Sutherland and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia is equally apparent in Stanley Black’s delightful pastiche Overture to a Costume Comedy‚ which older collectors may recall from a 1950s Decca recording played by the LSO under Pierino Gamba (4/58).
Black is one of six composers represented here who are still living. Indeed as many as seven of the overtures date from the past 50 years‚ and two are brand new. William Blezard’s LatinAmerican flavoured Caramba gets the programme off to a rumbustious start‚ and another attractive example is by the indefatigable Philip Lane‚ who again earns our gratitude as conceiver‚ producer and annotator of the collection. He has also reconstructed the overture to Thomas Dunhill’s comic opera Tantivy Towers‚ whose full score ‘went missing’ after a BBC broadcast in the 1970s.
Only a couple of the overtures here even remotely threaten to outstay their welcome‚ and all 11 admirably convey the essence of the genre in raising the listener’s spirits. The result is a refreshingly different and valuable issue.