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Paul LEWIS (born 1943)
The Prisoner of Zenda (1984)
Autumn Love (1974)
Brandon Chase (1980)a
Arthur of the Britons: Suite (1972)
The Big Knife: Romance (1989)b
Kingís Royal (1981)
The Dark Angel (1990)c
The Benny Hill Waltz (1960s)
The Island (1976)d
Woof! (1988)e
Wreckers at Deadeye: Overture (1970)
Lynn Peters (piccolo)a; Jonathan Higgins (piano)b; Nick Bucknall (soprano saxophone)c; Sarah Eyden (soprano)d; James Hughes (harmonica)e; The Royal Ballet Sinfonia; Paul Lewis
Recorded: Whitfield Street Studio, London, 1999
CAMEO 2018
[76:13]
Paul Lewis is a versatile, prolific composer whose music has already appeared, albeit in small quantity, on records (his English Overture on ASV WHL 2126 and his English Suite for strings on NAXOS 8.550070). This is Ė I think Ė the first disc entirely devoted to his music, and particularly to his many TV scores. He has also composed a good deal of so-called library music, such as the LP History Book of Music featuring what is now apparently best referred to as the Benny Hill Waltz. This delightfully ironic waltz, originally titled Ballroom, is here recorded at its proper speed, so that some may not recognise it (I did not!).

Some of his TV scores were quite substantial scores from which sizeable suites have been drawn, e.g. the epic Arthur of the Britons and the emotionally more complex The Dark Angel based on Sheridan le Fanuís Uncle Silas. Lewisís score for Arthur of the Britons successfully blends heroic and dramatic episodes (e.g. Celtic Horns somewhat redolent of Coplandís Fanfare for the Common Man) and more peaceful and tender ones, such as the beautifully lyrical Fair Rowena. The suite is a quite substantial score in the best tradition of epic film scores, and not unworthy the comparison with some similar scores by Alwyn, Arnold or Kamen. The Dark Angel is a more complex score allowing for a more richly varied approach. The Gothic Melodrama drawn from the score is a remarkable tour de force in which waltz tunes and rhythms are subtly varied according to the plot or the characters they evoke.

Philip Lane, the producer of this disc, mentions Arnold and Walton as Lewisís models (he might have added Richard Rodney Bennett); and, true to say, Malcolm Arnoldís shadow looms large over some of the scores (and none the worse for that, as far as the present Arnold fan is concerned). This is particularly evident in the rousing tune for Kingís Royal or the brilliant overture Wreckers at Deadeye. But, in spite of some clear influences, Lewis manages to remain his own man as in the delightful short fantasy Woof! (one of the most enjoyable items here) and the superb Mood Picture The Island for wordless soprano and orchestra which is, as far as I am concerned, the finest work in this selection. This is a real tone-poem in all but the name, that may sometimes recall Baxís seascapes. A really beautiful piece.

I suppose that British music lovers are likely to respond heartily to this release, the more so that these TV serials have been quite popular. I, as a foreigner, have to react to the musicís own merits; and I am happy to report that it is beautifully crafted, superbly scored and quite appealing. This generous selection of some of Lewisís finest TV scores is a joy from first to last. Excellent playing from all concerned, fine recorded sound and well-documented presentation. Incidental music of the highest quality (and The Island is much more than that), maybe, but well worth hearing (after all, Mendelssohnís Midsummer Nightís Dream started its life as incidental music).

Hubert Culot


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