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British Light Classics
Peter HOPE (b.1930)

Mexican Hat Dance (1961)
Charles ANCLIFFE (1880-1952)

Nights of Gladness (1912)
Archibald JOYCE (1873-1963)

Dreaming (1911)
Meyer LÜTZ (1828-1923)

Pas de quatre (1889)
Ernest BUCALOSSI (1859-1933)

Grasshopper’s Dance (1905)
Frederic CURZON (1899-1973)

The Boulevardier (1941)
Geoffrey TOYE (1899-1942)

The Haunted Ballroom (1935)
Ernest TOMLINSON (b.1924)

Concert Jig (1955)
Ronald BINGE (1910-1979)

The Watermill (1958)
Charles WILLIAMS (1893-1978)

The Old Clockmaker (1949)
Albert KETELBEY (1875-1959)

Bells Across the Meadow (1921)
Cecil ARMSTRONG GIBBS (1889-1960)

Dusk (1935)
Robert FARNON (b.1917)

Jumping Bean (1947)
Sydney BAYNES (1879-1938)

Destiny (1912)
Arranged Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941)

Londonderry Air (1924)
Eric COATES (1886-1957)

Covent Garden (1932)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
Recorded 13-14 September 2004, Cadogan Hall, London
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 62020-2 [59.35]

 

The resurgence of British Light Music in recent years has encouraged a spate of recordings, to which these performances make a worthwhile addition. In fact this is a second volume, inspired no doubt by the success of its predecessor (Warner Classics 2564 61438-2) review.

The recording, produced by Tony Faulkner in London’s Cadogan Hall, is both warm and atmospheric, and the climaxes pack a punch when they arrive. The general production standards are high, as they were in the previous volume. There is a well planned and nicely designed booklet, again containing clear and informative notes by George Hall. The latter are the more important because some of the names will be unknown to all but specialists.

Some of the music is interesting rather than inspired, so collectors wanting to test the water and try a single disc of this fare might turn instead to Ronald Corp and the New London Orchestra on Hyperion. Their performances of the more dramatic music perhaps have a little more bite and intensity than Wordsworth’s.

However, the playing of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is exemplary, and the string tone is particularly warm and rich whenever required; which is often. Like any other area of the repertoire, the field of light music offers abundant opportunities for discovery. For example, The Grasshopper’s Dance by Ernest Bucalossi used to be popular before the Second World War, particularly with brass bands. But its appeal is probably all the greater with the instrumental variety of an orchestral performance.

The advantages of performing this music with a top class orchestra can of course be felt in every piece, but one that gains hugely is Geoffrey Toye’s The Haunted Ballroom. The subtle shadings of dynamic from the strings of the RPO achieve just the atmosphere the composer must have attended. For this is a truly ghostly waltz.

There is some pointed wit, too, in Robert Farnon’s infectiously appealing Jumping Bean and Frederic Curzon’s The Boulevardier. While on the face if it, Peter Hope’s Mexican Hat Dance might seem a banal opening number, encountering the music in such a well-played version dispels such doubts, and the results are enjoyable. And that, in fact, is the crucial message about this enduringly enjoyable music. It is a satisfying aspect of the musical development of recent times that this repertoire has come back into contention after years of neglect. There is plenty here both to delight and to warm the heart.

Terry Barfoot

 

British Light Music Composers - Philip Scowcroft's Garlands



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