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Box of Delights
Phyllis TATE (1911-1985)
London Fields (1958) [13:14]
Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912)
Four Characteristic Waltzes, Op.22 (1899) – Valse de la reine [4:30]
Three-fours – Valse Suite, Op.71 (1909) arranged by Norman O’Neill
No.2 Andante [2:47]; No.5 Andante molto [4:12]
Granville BANTOCK (1868-1946)
Russian Scenes (1899) [14:18]
Cecil ARMSTRONG-GIBBS (1889-1960)
Fancy Dress – Dance Suite Op.82 (1935) [17:22]
Elisabeth LUTYENS (1906-1983)
En Voyage, suite for full orchestra (1944) [15:02]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Simon Joly (Lutyens)
rec. Tate: March 1988, Walthamstow Town Hall, August 1989, Henry Wood Hall; remainder in Henry Wood Hall, August and September 1989. DDD
LYRITA SRCD214 [71:32]



Amidst the excited flurry of the monthly Top Gun Lyrita releases comes this gentler morsel. But just because it’s not Boult’s Elgar Symphonies or the Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto or the George Lloyds or … well, whatever else it’s not, that doesn’t mean you should pass by. Here we have a quintet of composers and plenty of relaxed enjoyment. It also qualifies as a Light Music offering, as the disc’s subtitle makes clear, and given the prodigious number of genre releases recently that’s no bad thing either.
 
Phyllis Tate is represented by her 1958 London Fields. Tate has clearly listened to her Eric Coates but the xylophone frolics of The Maze at Hampton Court owe more to the syncopated bite of dance bands and maybe the large shade of Teddy Brown. The gauzy evocation of St James’s Park is written in very best Light Music style and the finale is a vigorous waltz – Hampstead Heath here teems with Edwardian bustle.
 
Coleridge-Taylor, whose Violin Concerto has now come into deserved light, is still the composer for lightly evocative Waltzes. We have Valse de la reine, the third of his Characteristic Waltzes written in 1899.  Written con sentimento it was sent to his wife during their courtship and is delightfully, appositely and predictably sweet. A decade later he wrote Three-fours – Valse Suite. Of the two movements here No.2 is a charming Andante but No.5, whilst it sports a role for solo violin, is rather less accomplished. They’re both heard in the orchestrations by Norman O’Neill.
 
Programme planning, especially in compilation discs, is something of an art and the compilers clearly enjoyed following Coleridge-Taylor’s decorous late-Victorian and Edwardian waltzes with Bantock’s altogether more invigorating sketches. His Russian Scenes come from the same year as Coleridge-Taylor’s Valse de la Reine. Bantock doffs his capacious hat to Rimsky and to Borodin quite a lot hereabouts, and naturally to Tchaikovsky too. These are dance movements with local colour and plenty of energy. It depends how one takes them though. On Marco Polo 8.223274, Adrian Leaper and the Czechoslovak State, based in Košice, have their own view.  Barry Wordsworth is gruffer than Leaper in the Mazurka and we find the Lyrita team points it very nicely with rubati; Leaper and his Slovak team are straighter and more metrical. Things are balanced though in the Valse – much quicker in Košice than London – where the evocative sound of the very brightly lit Slovak winds can sound tangier than their more cosmopolitan LPO rivals. By and large though Wordsworth prefers heft, and greater subtlety, especially in the Polka, to Leaper’s lighter take on Bantock’s musical sightseeing.
 
The Fancy Dress Dance Suite of Armstrong-Gibbs was written in 1935. The waltz Dusk is deservedly the most popular of the four movements, a famous BBC Home Service broadcast charmer. But though the Dance of the Mummers doesn’t sound too promising it actually largely eschews cod-maypole stuff and instead pays a fond and brief tribute to Delius, who had died the previous year. The final movement is rather over-long but its Elgarian moments – another casualty of 1934 – are explicit.
 
Finally there’s scary Elisabeth Lutyens and her delightful En voyage, written in wartime. The journey to Paris via boat train may be a thing of the past – and it certainly was back in 1944 for different reasons – but Lutyens summons up some evocative nature painting for a Channel squall, vibrant gaiety as the train approaches the bright lights of Paris and a generous winding down. Simon Joly and the RPO do the honours here and very well too.
 
Nothing over-serious here – just charming fare all round, finely played and conducted. Try Leaper for another take on Bantock but otherwise banish humdrum days with this delightful collection.
 
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Rob Barnett

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