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Bill WORLAND (b. 1921)
Curtain Up!
Broadstairs, Descriptive Suite (1960-2000!)
Sandman Serenade (1945)
Paths of Peace (1965)
Intermezzo 45 (1945)
For Aida (2001)
Rhapsodie Tristesse (1956)
Amaro Dolce (1998)
Honky-Tonk Town (1966)
Midnight in Manhattan (1969)
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/Gavin Sutherland
Rec 2001 DDD


DI Music

Bill Worland belongs to the old school of "British Light Music", of the variety that appeared, for instance, on Vernon Handley's disc for Classic FM, rather than the more musically ambitious offerings of composers such as Antony Hedges, David Lyon, and even the current doyen of the genre, Philip Lane. So, it probably goes without saying, that this disc, beautifully crafted as all its music is, will only appeal to a certain audience and maybe a narrower one than that which currently laps up the output of, for example, the ASV White Line label (London Landmarks, Constant Lambert, Kenneth Leighton et al).

Some of the pieces, even in the extended Broadstairs, Descriptive Suite, sound like ballroom music, others like film soundtracks, although there are moments of greater depth and feeling. The composer's own highly informative booklet notes paint a vivid picture of the genesis of each piece and lend a poignancy to Intermezzo 45 which the music certainly lives up to. Worland describes his R&R at the end of WWII, near Tel Aviv, following a time in the western desert. Even so, the music is incredibly middle-of-the-road for most of its duration, the closing Finale - Michaela (Reprise) proving the exception. Rhapsodie Tristesse could almost be subtitled Rachmaninov-lite (or Warsaw Concerto 1, I suppose!). The pieces I ultimately enjoyed most, alongside Intermezzo 45, were the closing two Americanisms. Honky-Tonk Town was originally scored for banjo but as a jazz combo piece is also very winning, whereas Midnight in Manhattan is a spacious blues-style composition.

I haven't heard the equivalent Marco Polo Worland disc but, whilst acknowledging that this isn't, in general, my particular cup of tea, it is beautifully composed, lovingly recorded and may make someone more nostalgic than myself for the times it evokes very happy indeed.

Neil Horner

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