Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


Symphony No. 1; Three Seascapes.
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Gavin Sutherland.

from Mr. Golightly at 41 Parkland Way, Poynton, Cheshire SK12 1AL ( or Middlesbrough Football Club, Cellnet Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough TS3 6RS ( £12.99.

This symphony is unusual, perhaps unique, in being inspired by and supported by a football club (Middlesbrough, who are playing extracts on match days). There is otherwise little original football music: some songs, insignificant musically, one or two library "titles" and John Ireland's Housman setting Goal and Wicket.

The strongly marked opening sets the scene; the deliciously scored, often delicate, scherzo expresses the joy of the club's Wembley visits, the Espressivo Sostenuto the pain of defeat. The marchlike finale, suggesting the excitement of a match day and, in wider terms, a questing journey through life, ends quietly, movingly indeed, as events on the field or through life are recollected in tranquillity.

Some 45 minutes long, the Symphony is very accessible in idiom, a "Classic FM work", no more "difficult" than say George Lloyd or William Alwyn (Golightly, like Alwyn, has composed film music), with traces of Shostakovich's influence. It is well argued, though the preludial first movement might be slightly shorter with advantage, and finely scored.

The performance by the Prague players under Sutherland's assured direction is excellent. The filler is attractive, too: a lightish suite, each movement based on a different sea-shanty: Fire Down Below, Shenandoah and Rio Grande. Worth investigating.

Phil Scowcroft

Picture from Middlesbrough Football Club

Adrian Smith adds:

Though he has composed extensively for theatre and film in this country, David Golightly's music is better known abroad. In particular he has strong links with St Petersburg, for whose Rouss-land Soglasie Choir he wrote The St Petersburg Mass, which was received in the city to great acclaim. Indeed the choir's conductor went so far as to describe him as 'the Englishman with a Russian soul'. His Piano Sonata recently received its first performance at New York's Carnegie Hall, and will be heard later this month in Oxford.

From the age of nine, he has been an ardent supporter of Middlesbrough FC, and this symphony must be regarded as being the first-ever which is not only dedicated to a football club and its chairman but an orchestral portrait of the game. In fact, the work's programme is intensely personal. 'My symphony was composed as an attempt to chart in musical terms the struggles, successes and failures which I have encountered on life's journey', says the composer, and in it he has also sought to encapsulate the fluctuating fortunes of his team.

Golightly possesses a distinctive musical voice - tonal in idiom, by turns gritty and lyrical in style, but constantly underpinned by insistent rhythmic energy and clothed in assured orchestral colours. A feature of the first three movements is their enigmatic, throwaway endings. Richly-scored and impassioned though it is, the slow movement suggests that the composer is striving to rein in his romantic inclinations. But any inhibitions he may have are cast to the winds in the turbulent finale - a portrait of an actual football match - and the serene C major ending is utterly captivating.

Given limited rehearsal time, young conductor Gavin Sutherland and his forces play with evident commitment - only the somewhat fragmentary second movement shows signs of strain. Recording sound is vivid but lacks bloom and ambience.

The disc is completed by Three Sea Scapes - masterly arrangements of three shanties.

Golightly is certainly a composer to watch, and this symphony is warmly recommended.

Adrian Smith



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