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British Light Music Premieres - Vol. 4
Ernest TOMLINSON (b. 1924)
Aladdin
(1974): Jewel Dances: (Ruby; Emerald; Pearl); Aladdin’s Dance of Joy; Young Man in Love
John FOX (b. 1924)
A Surrey Rhapsody
(2006)
Jim COOKE (b. 1959)
Concert Jig
(2004)
(Christopher Perry (hammered dulcimer))
Phillip LORD (1930-1969)
Nautical Overture
(1965)
Richard VALERY (1906-2005)
The Magic Carpet
(1940)
Lionel SAINSBURY (b. 1958)
Cuban Dance no.2
(1991)
Adam SAUNDERS (b. 1968)
Overture: Pirates Ahoy! (2006)
Carey BLYTON (1932-2002)
Suite: The Golden Road to Samarkand (1991): Ships of the Desert; Caravanserai (Songs and Dances); Samarkand!
Peter FLINN (b. 1965)
Cinema Suite
(2006): Ogres and Giants; The Magic Potion; Dreamscape; The Clowns; Resolution
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland; Paul Murphy (Flinn, Sainsbury, Lord)
rec. Angel Studios, London, 2005-6. DDD
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7190 [77:06]



Ernest Tomlinson’s farmhouse in rural Lancashire has for years been the safe home for the scores and parts of a host of otherwise lost British light music. There it has been preserved during the darkest days of the genre and now helps in its re-emergence.
 
Tomlinson is much more than just an archivist though. His name was a fixture on BBC light music programmes since the 1950s. His Aladdin music was commissioned by the then Northern Dance Theatre. The Jewel Dances are lyrical, nostalgic, glistening and sparkling. Aladdin’s Dance of Joy is rowdy by comparison; a touch of Bernstein. The fruity clarinet line in Young Man in Love is rather Parisian in feel. There’s little obviously Oriental material here – just in case you were wondering – and none the worse for that.
 
Surrey-born John Fox has been active as a writer of mood and library music and his warm Surrey Rhapsody is propulsively Delian, ecstatic and grand and warmly shining as if evocative of the Surrey hills and certainly well thronged with bird-song. Then again there’s a whooping dash or ten of brassy raucousness just in case we were tempted to bask in the sunshine. The voice of Malcolm Arnold is fleetingly unmistakable.
 
Jim Cooke’s Concert Jig adds the exotic flavour of the hammered dulcimer. The material is British and occasionally Celtic with a rhythmic patterning that links back to Percy Grainger.
 
Philip Lord was born in Rossendale not far from Rawsthorne’s birthplace in Rawtenstall. Lord was based in Sheffield, which happens to be the birthplace of Jim Cooke. Lord’s Nautical Overture made appearances on the BBC in the 1960s but the score survives only in the library of the Light Music Society. It’s a rattlingly rousing overture in the British concert overture tradition.
 
Richard Valery’s The Magic Carpet, the oldest score here, is a shock the system with its swooning 1940s big band sound – a touch of Glenn Miller here.  He was director of music publisher Cranz and played an important role in revival of the music of Havergal Brian.
 
Lionel Sainsbury is one of the most promising lyrical composers on the scene. His Cuban Dance No. 2 catches the sultry smoochiness of pre-Castro Cuba. We still await recordings of his rewardingly individual  concertos for violin and cello.
 
Adam Saunders is from Derby. Written specially for this collection, Pirates Ahoy! with its faint echoes of the Back to the Future scores is swashbuckling, rather cinematographic, colourful, brisk, witty and full of fun. Just the ticket.
 
Carey Blyton’s name first crossed my path in a concert in 1979 in Guildford with the eminently serious and extremely beautiful orchestral song-cycle Lachrymae. The suite The Golden Road to Samarkand illustrates James Elroy Flecker’s poem of the same name. This time Blyton embraces the recognised hallmarks, sways, tricks and twists of Oriental mystery. He is in his lighter vein but everything is laid out with transparent clarity.
 
Peter Flinn studied with Mathias and with Joubert. You can hear the influence of Mathias in the first movement of the well crafted Cinema Suite. Malcolm Arnold also puts in an appearance: listen to the chiming in The Magic Potion which echoes parts of Arnold’s Fifth Symphony.  If there is a lightly macabre Harry Potter feel to this very recent piece then what’s the harm in that? The long Dreamscape movement doffs the hat in Ravel’s direction. The Clowns movement has the bruising manner of the lighter Shostakovich with its oompah underpinning. There is a sternly elegiac final movement called Resolution. After all this suite was written in memory of Peter Crossley-Holland - whose tone poems should systematically be recorded. Flinn does not stop there however. Before the movement is done with we get mysteriously satisfying woven references back to Stravinsky’s The Firebird as well as a tam-tam crash shivering into silence and a dignified valedictory tuba solo.
 
The documentation is by composer, British light music champion and general all-round dynamo, Philip Lane – one of the principal driving forces of the light music renaissance.
 
This is another successful enterprising and generous cross-section of British light music. Dutton can take a bow yet again. Such tireless commitment and brilliant achievement deserves not just sales but also industry recognition.
 
One request: please record Eric Fogg’s Sea-Sheen in the next collection!
 
Rob Barnett
 



 


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