Conjurors usually delve into hats - but hat boxes
will serve well enough here - and the merry bag includes a few
hares and even a red herring! The dividing line between classical/serious
and classical/pop needn't trouble us. Classical/fun might be a
better classification. There are serious moments: a courtly Greensleeves,
virtuosic divisions on a Dowland song, a dreamy 'Chadkirk Idyll'
from that much loved composer of light music, Ernest Tomlinson.
There are even some seriously/dull 17th century dances from the
'Select Cabinet'. But with the local impetus of Stockport (and
John Turner) time passes quickly in this cheery company.
One wonders whether the demand for hats still
exists in this balding and baseball cap world. The variety of
colourful headgear in Alan Bullard's wardrobe certainly includes
the ubiquitous baseball cap (with appropriate referee's whistle
- and, with the present fashion surely the theme of the music
should be in retrograde?). We are told that the final "doolichter"
(A descriptive Fife word for the working man's cap) conceals a
well known local tune which I suppose I ought to know? (I ought
to have known - "Christians Awake" to John Wainwright's well known
The longest piece (at a mere 5'15") and perhaps
the best music on the disc is Tomlinson's "Chadkirk Idyll", a
reflective work of which the composer writes "the mental image
of a small and lonely chapel in the river valley at the base of
a wind-swept hillside inspired the melodies around which the idyll
Stepan Rak's "Arioso" was originally written
for solo guitar but at an evening function he was persuaded to
add a recorder part to provide an encore, promptly premiered that
same evening! Of the other items there is much that is attractive
without being weighty: David Ellis's 'Fred and Ginger' imagery
on the renovated staircase house in Stockport (with its slide
down the banisters); the Bramall Hall Dances of Peter Hope, a
mixture of modern and mediaeval with a Prokofievian ostinato and
final Galop; John Golland's New World Dances, including a clever
guitar rhythm underpinning an urchin's song; John Duarte's 'Un
Petit Jazz' . This last sums up the proceedings with four little
pieces and an encore making merry with a series of time signatures
with "touches of tongue in cheek". His words "an overdose of solemnity
would have been inappropriate" might apply to the whole disc.
Infectious probably describes the music best.