When Hyperion published the first disc in this series,
with its almost forgotten TV interludes from the early Alexander Palace
days of post-war television, few suspected that its sales would rocket.
Built on this tide of interest in British Light Music we now have Volume
Scanning down the list one is probably familiar with
the works of composers like Ketèlbey, Coates, Curzon, Ancliffe
and Coleridge-Taylor. But one also spot composers known in name alone.
We know nothing of the style of Rosse. Duncan, Fletcher and Gardiner
all produced sheet music which, in its time, sold well, but few, if
any, of their works have ever been recorded (see British Overtures ASV).
We are grateful to Hyperion and Ronald Corp for giving these works an
airing when maybe the lead for many of them should have come from the
BBC. Many pieces receive their première public recording on this
disc. Many of you will recognise pieces like Duncan’s well-known High
Heels yet will struggle to remember where you heard them.
I was most interested to come across Rosse’s Merchant
of Venice and wonder how such an enchanting piece could have been
so forgotten. Likewise, the prim charm of Williams’ A Quiet Stroll
was a delight to hear along with the rarely heard third and fourth movements
of Coleridge-Taylor’s Petite Suite. In contrast I could have
managed without Jamacian Rumba and Marching Strings, which
to me conjure up a somewhat different genre.
Signature tunes, unlike concert works, are often wished
to be heard ‘as the listener remembers’ and in this Corp does not disappoint.
But played by a larger orchestra much is added to the pieces and this
is enhanced by the with more sensitive dynamics available with modern
technology. The pace is good and the playing is of a high standard.
In the recording the orchestra is nearly too far recessed
for optimum recording quality (and my tastes), particularly in the early
numbers, but fortunately the first strings seem to have escaped this
attenuation and the situation improves by the time we get to the third
The detailed and interesting notes by Andrew Lamb are
provided in English and usefully sketch each composer’s background and
the purpose of each composition.
Raymond J Walker
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