In the days before BBC Radio 3 decided that novelty was the answer to its organisational self-doubts programmes such as 'Matinee Musicale' were the home for light music. That outlet has now all but shrivelled to nothing and in its place the CD has become an expressive outlet.
Paul Carr writes music that is without pretence, fluent and fluid, singing, concise and joyous. The Clarinet Concerto leads us through a limpidly flowing landscape part Finzi, part Nyman (soul partner to the John Harle inspired Where the Bee Dances - a glorious piece to which I was introduced by Evelyn Glennie's BBCTV series), part Coates. The Occasional Postcards are soloistic sketches catchy and reflective - listen to the slinky sax of Andrew Sutton in Summer Evening with its half hints of Sibelius 2 and the bassoon invocation from Rite of Spring. Summer heat drapes heavily over the Concerto for two saxophones and time drawls easily by providing a centre of gravity for the latina rumba-bump, bounce and crunch of the vivace and vivo. Girl on a Beach under a Sunshade (a miniature for bassoon and orchestra) was inspired by a Sir Alfred Munnings sketch of Carr's great aunt, Gwenneth Jones-Parry on a Cornish beach in 1916. It is not languid enough to have quite the sensuality suggested in the liner note but it remains a rhapsodic charmer. The Collage Concerto is in a single meandering movement and despite the glances across entrancing vistas is the least satisfying of the six works here. It is also where the orchestra's string section is revealed in its least flattering light. A plusher tone would have helped. The Nocturne was recorded at night at the end of the first day's sessions. It provides a chill-out winding down and logically concluding the disc.
Paul Carr is in select company. His music could coexist very happily alongside that of his similarly inclined colleagues: Lionel Sainsbury (listen out for his Violin Concerto at next year's Three Choirs), William Blezard, Michael Hurd, Thomas Pitfield, Will Todd, Christopher Gunning, John Jeffreys, Ian Venables, Callum Kenmuir, Francis Pott and the still far too little known Matthew Curtis.
This makes for easier listening but is far from facile. I recommend this disc of soloistically inclined music. The solo artists must have been a joy to work with if the results are anything to go by. The Clarinet Concerto and the Postcards stand out in this company. Do not miss this disc if you are well disposed to a dreamy and lightly jazzy British ambience.
Easier listening. Far from facile. Clarinet Concerto and Postcards stand out in this company. Do not miss this disc if you favour a dreamy and lightly jazzy British ambience.