> British Light Music Discoveries 4 [PS]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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John RUTTER: Partita
Richard Rodney BENNETT: Suite Française.
Malcolm ARNOLD: Padstow Lifeboat March.
David FANSHAWE: Fantasy on Dover Castle.
William BLEZARD: Battersea Park Suite.
Michael HURD: Dance Diversions.
Paul LEWIS: A Miniature Symphony
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland.
ASV CD WHL 2131 [67.00?] Midprice


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Here is another in this ASV series, which like its three predecessors, seeks to get away from British light music’s well trodden repertoire.

The Rutter and Hurd works, both sparklingly scored, are based on dance rhythms. The Hurd’s most memorable movement is the beautiful fourth, of five. Rutter’s music is extremely popular, but this is, I believe, the Partita’s first recording. It often reminds me of Malcolm Arnold, represented here by Philip Lane’s orchestration of the popular Padstow Lifeboat march, originally for brass band. The longest single movement is David Fanshawe’s Fantasy on Dover Castle, heroic and sometimes storm-tossed (Fanshawe originally had the inspiration to compose it during a Channel gale) but with a surprising colourful, almost ethnic-sounding episode. The Bennett Suite comprises attractive French folk arrangements. William Blezard seems to be having a revival on CD lately and his Battersea Park suite, in six brief movements, is delightful, with recollections of the coconut shy, a boat on the lake, the merry-go-round, distorting mirrors and a miniature railway which ambles amiably along. It is astonishing how many light music composers have been inspired by trains! Finally we have Paul Lewis’ A Miniature Symphony: classical pastiche – one is tempted to compare this with Prokofiev but his Classical Symphony was not as 'transistorised' as this, which is all over in five elegant, entertaining minutes.

Performances are again splendid; the RBS and the admirable Gavin Sutherland enhance their reputations in British light music and the recording and presentation are once more excellent.
Philip Scowcroft


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