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British Light Music Discoveries - Vol. 6
Henry WALFORD DAVIES (1869-1941)

March past of the Royal Air Force (1919)
Gareth GLYN (b.1951)

Legend of the Lake – Suite for small orchestra (1984 rev. 2002)
Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941)

Londonderry Air (1924)*
John FIELD (1782-1837)

Rondo in A flat (edited Philip Lane)+
Iain HAMILTON (1922-2000)

Overture 1912 (1958)
David FANSHAWE (b.1942)

Tarka the Otter – extended theme (1978)++
Serenata; Mother and Child (2002)++
Christopher SLASKI (b.1974)

Frank Lloyd Wright Suite (2002)**
Robert Gibbs (violin)*
Alan MacLean (piano)+
London Symphony Orchestra/Neil Thomson**
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/ Gavin Sutherland++
Recorded London and Prague, 2002-03
ASV WHITE LINE CD WHL 2149 [71.08]

The British Light Music series from White Line hits Volume 6. There are three orchestras and two conductors involved – Gavin Sutherland waving his well-established baton over the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Neil Thomson takes the LSO – no less – through Christopher Slaski’s Frank Lloyd Wright Suite. Is my Snob Detector too sensitively tuned or should I overlook the fact that the LSO typeface on the cover booklet comfortably dwarfs that of the other two bands? If I was Sutherland I might be a bit miffed, though I’m sure he’s not that sort of chap.

The programme is a funny old affair I have to say. Starting with Walford Davies’ 1919 RAF March Past and adding the Hamilton Harty arrangement of Londonderry Air is one thing but to add John Field’s Rondo in A flat (originally for Piano Quintet) in this Philip Lane arrangement for piano and orchestra might be taken as a whimsicality too far. Surrounding them is the meat of the disc and they offer richer rewards, no matter how well the staples are played – and I don’t discount the espressivo string playing in the Walford Davies, or the fine harp and solo violin playing in the Harty, much less Alan MacLean’s handling of the Field. I’ve enjoyed Gareth Glyn’s atmospheric work before. Here his 1984 suite, Legend of the Lake, has been recently revised and its five movements are, as ever, full of clever touches. He moves from jolly 30s style – light, bright – to the tense, brittle Shostakovich influenced trumpet and percussion Manhunt with plenty of well-orchestrated lyricism on show as well. Iain Hamilton’s Overture 1912 is a homage to Dan Leno, hero of the Halls, and is an impressionistic take on the milieu quoting perkily throughout; there’s Arnoldian wit here as well as an admixture of playful mordancy and the muted brass garnishes this affectionate tribute.

David Fanshawe’s music for Tarka fuses lyric relaxation with apposite tension and his Serenata is a delight. Slaski’s Frank Lloyd Wright Suite is the longest work here, a four-movement suite dedicated to the architect and each evoking a particular building. Thus Slaski conjures up rippling and glittering waterfalls and jazzy chic laced with impressionistic shimmer or else, in Wingspread, the final movement conjures a solo violin, ever ascending, decorative harp, fine orchestration and a twilit clarinet – fine chiaroscuro.

Despite the differing origins of the performances the sound quality remains even across the disc; not really opulent but attractive. Plenty of good nuggets here – but what a weird piece of programming.

Jonathan Woolf


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