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Hat Box: Music for Recorder and Guitar
Alan BULLARD Hat Box
Stepan RAK Arioso
ANON Greensleeves to a Ground
Ernest TOMLINSON Chadkirk Idyll
David ELLIS Fred's Blue Ginger Staircase Music
Van EYK Variations on Dowland's Comagin
John GOLLAND New World Dances: Three Pieces from the Select Cabinet
John DUARTE Un Petit Jazz and Un Petit Bis
Peter HOPE Bramall Hall Dances
The Turner/Smith Duo: (John Turner, recorder, Neil Smith, guitar)
Recorded at Chadkirk Chapel, Romiley and Manchester University Dept of Music.
CAMPION CAMEO 2020 [67'81"]

Conjurors usually delve into hats - but hat boxes will serve well enough here - and the merry bag includes a few hares and even a red herring! The dividing line between classical/serious and classical/pop needn't trouble us. Classical/fun might be a better classification. There are serious moments: a courtly Greensleeves, virtuosic divisions on a Dowland song, a dreamy 'Chadkirk Idyll' from that much loved composer of light music, Ernest Tomlinson. There are even some seriously/dull 17th century dances from the 'Select Cabinet'. But with the local impetus of Stockport (and John Turner) time passes quickly in this cheery company.

One wonders whether the demand for hats still exists in this balding and baseball cap world. The variety of colourful headgear in Alan Bullard's wardrobe certainly includes the ubiquitous baseball cap (with appropriate referee's whistle - and, with the present fashion surely the theme of the music should be in retrograde?). We are told that the final "doolichter" (A descriptive Fife word for the working man's cap) conceals a well known local tune which I suppose I ought to know? (I ought to have known - "Christians Awake" to John Wainwright's well known hymn 'Stockport').

The longest piece (at a mere 5'15") and perhaps the best music on the disc is Tomlinson's "Chadkirk Idyll", a reflective work of which the composer writes "the mental image of a small and lonely chapel in the river valley at the base of a wind-swept hillside inspired the melodies around which the idyll is shaped."

Stepan Rak's "Arioso" was originally written for solo guitar but at an evening function he was persuaded to add a recorder part to provide an encore, promptly premiered that same evening! Of the other items there is much that is attractive without being weighty: David Ellis's 'Fred and Ginger' imagery on the renovated staircase house in Stockport (with its slide down the banisters); the Bramall Hall Dances of Peter Hope, a mixture of modern and mediaeval with a Prokofievian ostinato and final Galop; John Golland's New World Dances, including a clever guitar rhythm underpinning an urchin's song; John Duarte's 'Un Petit Jazz' . This last sums up the proceedings with four little pieces and an encore making merry with a series of time signatures with "touches of tongue in cheek". His words "an overdose of solemnity would have been inappropriate" might apply to the whole disc. Infectious probably describes the music best.

Colin Scott-Sutherland


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