Winds of Power.
London Symphonic Wind Orchestra/Composer
Nigel Hess, born in 1953, is best known for his music for television, feature
films and the theatre, especially the RSC. His gift for approachable, attractive
melody is peculiarly suited to those media, but it has been applied to concert
music also, much of it wind band, which this disc explores enjoyably. There
are eight items here. Two, Thames Journey and Global
Variations are potpourris of popular tunes, nicely strung together.
The title piece, commissioned by the National Youth Wind Orchestra in 1993,
is considerably more sophisticated in harmony and construction and brilliantly,
East Coast Pictures is a three movement suite of which the second,
"The Catskills" (the East Coast is US, not GB) has a serene, relaxed beauty.
The concert overture Stephenson's Rocket is yet another piece of
"train music" with appropriate sounds and rhythms but also a rich, shapely
tune representing, apparently, Stephenson's reputation as a ladies' man.
Another overture, Scramble! pays tribute to Fighter Command's efforts
in 1940; The TV Detectives is a cunningly worked medley of Hess's
theme tunes for the five detective series, Campion, Dangerfield, Hetty
Wainthrop, Maigret and Wycliff. The final piece To the
Stars! Is a short cantata with vocals from the pupils of Daubeney Middle
School, Bedford: ten minutes of charm and simplicity (the booklet prints
the words, provided by fourteen Bedford schoolchildren). The composer scores
excellent playing from the LSWO; some recordings date from 1992, the rest
from 1999, but the differences need not worry anyone. Warmly recommended.
Philip L. Scowcroft