Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

WELSH CLASSICAL FAVOURITES: Grace Williams, Walford Davies, Gareth Walters, Trevor Roberts, Alun Hoddinott, Mervyn Burtch, William Mathias and Ian Parrott.
MARCO POLO 8.225048

Marco Polo's British Light Music series has brought many delights and this latest example is by no means the least attractive. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, who do so much excellent work for British Light music, play with skill and style and the recording is very good. The disc as a whole affords a stimulating sampling of the wonderfully vigorous and distinctive Welsh tradition in composition. Apart from Walford Davies Solemn Melody (1908), much the earliest piece here, perhaps the best known item is Grace Williams' Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes, attractive melodies, none of them (as Philip Lane's booklet note points out) well known outside Wales, and beautifully scored: a Welsh counterpart of Quilter's Children's Overture. For the rest, we have no fewer than three examples of the cheerful, bustling British concert overture: Gareth Walters' Primavera, full of the joys of spring, Ian Parrott's Fanfare Overture, largely based, as the title suggests, on the opening trumpet motif and ending exuberantly on trumpets, and Mervyn Burtch's Aladdin, which conveys the excitement and "over the top" character of pantomime. Trevor Roberts' Pastorale memorably evokes the beauty of the Pembrokeshire countryside; of the three suites on the CD, both William Mathias's Serenade, early but already characteristic, and Gareth Walters' Gwent Suite, based on Welsh folk melodies, were commissioned for Welsh youth orchestras. Alun Hoddinott, whose Welsh Dances and Investiture Dances are celebrated examples of his lighter style, is represented here by the deliciously scored Folksong Suite, new to me, apparently deriving from a 1962 television series and charming in its simplicity. A rewarding release which it gives me pleasure to recommend.


Philip Scowcroft


Philip Scowcroft

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