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Tres Señoritas; Shopping Spree; Pepita; Brighton Belle; It's Spring Again; and other works
RTE Concert Orchestra Gavin Sutherland
Marco Polo 8.225161  [77:28]
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Bill Worland (born 1921) is a name new to me: in his authoritative guide British Light Music, Philip Scowcroft lists well over 250 composers, but Worland is not one of them [He is represented in the on-line version: Garland 31 and 54. LM], even though for the past 50 years he has been a prolific composer of light music in the characteristically British idiom. Apparently he has persevered in his task despite what he regards as a long period of neglect of not only his own music but also of that by other contemporary composers. The recent revival of interest in light music, largely stimulated by the Marco Polo series of discs launched in 1992, is certainly to be welcomed.

It would be nice to be able to congratulate the octogenarian composer on a belated recognition of his work, and to thank Marco Polo for bringing it before the public. Alas, though the Marco Polo series consists almost entirely of one-composer discs, I have to say that few of these composers can sustain interest for 80 minutes or so, and Worland just isn't one of them. If tunefulness is the prime requisite of light music I'm afraid that few, if any, of his melodies are memorable; and the routine structures rarely deviate from the predictable.

The orchestral writing is skilful enough (though the oboe figures disproportionately as a solo instrument); but the music is devoid of rhythmic surprises and its harmonic language is tediously constricted by an excess of tonic and dominant sequences. Many of the pieces (particularly the Mediterranean- and Latin American-inspired numbers) are cliché-ridden and repetitive. (To illustrate these points, Worland's Brighton Belle, for instance, is no match for Vivian Ellis's Coronation Scot). Shopping Spree is perhaps the most attractive of the disc's 19 tracks and it could well earn a place in a future anthology of British light music.

Adrian Smith



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