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Montague Phillips (1885-1969)
Revelry Overture Op.62 (1937)
Moorland Idyll Op. 61 (1936)
Four Dances from ‘The Rebel Maid’ (1916-1917)
Symphony in C minor (1911 rev. 1924/25)
A Surrey Suite Op. 59 (1936)
A Shakespearean Scherzo – ‘Titania and her Elvish Court’ (1934)
Arabesque Op. 43 No.2 (1927)
Sinfonietta in C Op.70 (1943)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Gavin Sutherland
Recorded at the BBC Studio 1 Maida Vale 19-20th January 2004
DUTTON CDLX 7140 [75.25]

see also Volume 2

 

Montague Phillips and I go back a long way. In fact, I first came across him in Llandudno about a third of a century ago. I had recently discovered the delights of English music and was beginning to assemble a collection of records and piano sheet music. In Mostyn Street there was a wonderful second-hand bookshop. I believe it is still there. It was an Aladdin’s Cave for both me and my father. He was soon engrossed in the poetry section and I found the cupboards full of music. It took me a fortnight to inspect all the music that ‘Di the Book’ had in his shop. Of course I bought all sorts of stuff. Some of it was good, some bad and some downright indifferent. Plenty of piano music I could not play then and still cannot play. Yet it was cheap; a few shillings for handfuls of the stuff. My father had found the collected works of that great Lancastrian Poet, Francis Thompson and was clearly delighted. I had found some songs by Montague Phillips which appealed to the romantic streak in my boyish nature. These were ‘From a Lattice Window,’ and, if I remember correctly ‘Sea Echoes.’ Of course, I had to wait until I returned to school before I could try them out with one of the sixth form girls who sang a bit. Something, though, went wrong. We never performed them together. I think she felt that Bach or Schumann was more in her style than an unknown Londoner. Yet the composer’s name has been at the back of my mind ever since. A few years later I met an old church warden in the Lake District. We were both organists and we chatted about music and beer and Alfred Wainright. One thing we had in common was our liking of so-called ‘light music’. I told him of my interest in Gilbert & Sullivan – I had recently been a ‘lord’ in Iolanthe. He chatted about The Maid of the Mountains and one or two other half-remembered operettas. Then he told me that he had met his wife-to-be during a performance of The Rebel Maid. This work is perhaps Montague Phillips’ best known piece.

The name went to the back of my mind for a number of years until Hyperion brought out their wonderful recording of Joseph Holbrooke’s Piano Concerto No. 1 ‘The Song of Gwyn ap Nudd’ Op.52. Naturally, I avidly read the CD’s learned programme notes by Lewis Foreman. And there in the second paragraph something hit my eye - a list of piano concertos by British Composers. Some of these I knew - Scott, Delius and Stanford; but amongst the many that I had not heard of was one by Montague Phillips. I happened to be in the Royal College of Music Library and looked up the composer in Grove. There was not much about his life but a partial list of his works made me sit up. Here was a catalogue containing not only one piano concerto but two, a symphony, various overtures and character pieces, cantatas and piano works. True, many of the titles in the list suggested a ‘light’ or ‘salon’ music tendency rather than anything weightier. However, this was not a big issue; as Philip Scowcroft suggests that there is certain ambivalence between serious and light. More thoughts about this later. I remember looking at the list and shrugging my shoulders. I would never hear any of this music; of that I was convinced.

A few years later I was delighted to buy the White Line ‘British Light Overtures’ CD Volume 3. Amongst many treats on this disc was Montague Phillips’ Overture: Hampton Court. It was the first track I played; I was eager to hear what this music sounded like. I was delighted and surprised by this charming work. We associate ‘things London’ with Eric Coates, of course. But here was a composer who was beating the master at his own game. This music echoes the feeling of grandeur, history and the fine gardens at this national treasure. It is sustained in places and full of good tunes and sparkling orchestration. We find, not only a sense of pageantry but also a curious wistfulness. This mood makes the overture work for me. It is a number that would and should take its place in the active repertoire of British Light Music. Curiously, perhaps, it acts as a kind of pendant to the Surrey Suite Op.59 on the present disc.

I will not in this review give an outline of Montague Phillips’ life and works – this has been admirably done by Philip Scowcroft in his extensive writing on Light Music on Musicweb.

see SERIOUS OR LIGHT The Experience of Montague Phillips by Philip L. Scowcroft

 

Symphony in C minor

Chronologically the first set of pieces on this disc is the Symphony in C minor. Unfortunately this work is not complete. The holograph was lost in Germany on the outbreak of the First World War. However the orchestral parts remained and we are fortunate that the composer chose to reconstruct the Scherzo and the Adagio during the early nineteen-twenties. These were apparently revised and issued as two orchestral miniatures – A Spring Rondo and A Summer Nocturne.

Lewis Foreman notes that the orchestral parts of the two outer movements survive – and he suggests that one day they may be reconstructed. The Symphony was originally composed between 1908 and 1911. It was first performed at a concert in the Queen’s Hall in May 1912, with the composer conducting.

What we have here is a tantalising glimpse of a ‘light’ symphony. This is escapist music at its very best. It glories in the kind of suburban atmosphere in which the composer was living. However, there should be no disparagement of this fact. What counts is the artistry that the composer brings to his materials. There is no doubt that he is able to handle the ‘stuff of music’ with consummate skill.

The Spring Rondo is in the form of a scherzo and trio. The opening of this piece is almost will o’ the wisp. There is considerable instrumental colour here – Phillips is well able to balance full orchestra with passages scored for just a couple of instruments. Sometimes the music becomes almost archaic and then the romantic sensibilities of the time come to the fore. I would never wish to import a programme into this music but the ‘Home Counties’ effect seems to spring to mind. Here we have a composer enjoying the good things of life; spring in the Surrey woods perhaps? There certainly seems to be a gaiety about much of this music. However, the trio section becomes a little more wistful; solo violin points up a more reflective impression. There is even a hint or two of Elgar in these pages. The scherzo material returns and the work ends in a blaze of brass.

The Adagio Sostenuto or the Summer Nocturne is much more profound stuff. This perhaps lets us see the other side of the composer to that of The Rebel Maid and the songs. This movement opens with a great sweeping tune which builds up to an intense climax. This is a truly great theme; any composer would be proud of it. Once again I feel the influence of Elgar. After the intensity of the first statement of this idea the composer shuts down a bit and soon the orchestra is musing on material seemingly derived from this opening theme. There is much use of solo instrumentation. Nevertheless the intensity is always trying to re-establish itself. Of course it succeeds for a while only to collapse back into retrospection. Soon there is a quiet, meditative passage. It is scored for three violins and viola. However the pressure builds up very quickly – the big tune reasserting itself and carrying all before it. At times this sounds deliciously film like. The last minute is back to reflecting on the summer’s day; a lovely solo violin leads to a quiet close.

All in all this is very tantalising music. I doubt if we have many ‘light’ symphonies in the repertoire. I can think of perhaps Eric Rogers’ Palladium Symphony. However as far as I know Eric Coates never conceived a Symphony - although I imagine some of his suites could almost count as such. Montague Phillips’ essay in this form may not be the most profound example of this genre – however it is well crafted, well scored and has some beautiful moments. These two movements must present a strong case for the restoration of the first and last.

I love and respect most of the British Symphony repertoire. However I can safely say that I would sometimes rather listen to the Summer Nocturne than much that passes for serious musical thought. It is a good balance between a composer wearing his heart on his sleeve and a degree of subtlety that makes this good if not great music.

Four Dances from the Rebel Maid

The Rebel Maid is Montague Phillips’ best known work; there are still many people around who have sung in amateur performances of this operetta. It is a work that I have never heard, although I have worked my way through a few of the piano arrangements of the dances. Although it was composed during the Great War it was not until 1921 that it was given its first performance at the London Empire Theatre. It was not an instant success – perhaps more to do with the effects of the coal strike; people were unable to travel into town for pleasure. The best known song is the Fishermen of England. It is interesting to note that the lead role was written for his wife, the soprano Clara Butterworth. The composer extracted this present set of Dances from the work shortly after the first performance - they are Jig, Gavotte, Graceful Dance and the Villagers’ Dance. They are delightful miniatures in their own right. They have all the attributes of good light music: good tunes and contrast between sentimental and gay moods.

Most important of all, the scoring has a lightness of touch that reveals the hand of a considerable master of orchestration. I suppose my favourite is the Gavotte – perhaps because I have known the piano version of this for many years. However, all the dances deserve to be aired a bit more often.

Arabesque Op.43 No.2

The short Arabesque was the second of Two Pieces composed as Op. 43 in 1927. The first is an ‘air de ballet’ entitled Violetta. Lewis Foreman suggests that the Arabesque is a pastiche of romantic Russian ballet music. On my first listening to this piece I felt that somehow the balance was wrong. Yet on approaching it again I see that it is actually quite a tightly constructed little miniature. It opens with a theme that reminds me of something in Roger Quilter’s ‘Where the Rainbow Ends.’ This is a playful tune that seems to work its spell throughout the music. At first it is scored with a light touch – flutes and oboes in dialogue before the strings arrive. The woodwind then engage in a delicate cadenza. After these musings there is the happy music, yet this is clearly related to what has gone before. Soon there are more overt echoes of the earlier theme and the music dies away, only to have the peace broken by a loud last chord. Altogether a perfect moment of music, which is very much a child of its time – but none the worse for that.

A Shakespearean Scherzo – ‘Titania and her Elvish Court.’

Philip Scowcroft describes this as a ‘sparkling’ work; no better adjective could be used. The programme notes tell us that this work received its first performance on 31st July 1934. It is a tone picture of some of the events from A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I suppose that my imagery of this scene is derived from the great fairy paintings by Sir Joseph Noel Paton; this music does nothing to destroy this perception.

There are fairy trumpets at the beginning of the work, somehow metamorphosing into the horn of Oberon. However the Elvish Court soon arrives on the scene – there is a lot of ‘tripping hither and tripping thither.’ The music just bubbles along like a spring stream in spate. There is much fine instrumentation here – especially for the woodwind. It is not quite a moto perpetuo – but it comes close. About a third of the way through this dainty theme gives way to a lovely string tune. For the rest of the work this tune tries to reassert itself but never fully succeeds. There is an interlude where the interplay of strings and woodwind weave a particularly magical spell before a little march takes all before it. Much of this music has a feel of Tchaikovsky about it; it would make an excellent ‘scene de ballet,’ in its own right. The music ends with considerable excitement; quite reminiscent of Eric Coates. Altogether a fine Scherzo that lives up to its promise to ‘depict’ Titania and her Elvish Court.

 

A Surrey Suite Op.59

For me this work is the highlight of the CD. This is not because it is necessarily the most musical or because it has any great profound statements to make about life and existence. It is simply that this is a musical portrayal of one of my best loved places – Surrey and the Royal Park at Richmond. To my mind this landscape epitomises much that for me is England; the generally wooded aspect of this landscape gives point to this opinion, in spite of the massive incursion of urban sprawl.

I have many happy memories of exploring the park and the Surrey countryside with a very lovely lady. This music brings to mind happy Saturday mornings wandering through a sun-dappled landscape, long views towards Windsor Castle and the secret vision of St Paul’s Cathedral through the long ride in the woods. The Market at Kingston presents to me the bustle of a half dozen market towns along the banks of the Thames – including Richmond, Twickenham, Teddington and Hampton Court; evenings of drinking Fullers ‘Chiswick’ beer by the river.

Montague Phillips lived in the Surrey town of Esher for many years, and no doubt spent much time exploring the surrounding countryside. The nineteen-thirties was a time of rapid expansion of the boundaries of Greater London. It was the time of Greenline Country Buses. Esher, along with many other places, was developing from sleepy market town to dormitory town for the sleep of commuters to the city. This was the age of hiking and rambling at weekends. Tudor style roadhouses and pubs were the order of the day. Ploughman’s lunches were devised by the Milk Marketing Board to sell more cheese.

The music of the Surrey Suite is presented in three movements: Richmond Park; The Shadowy Pines and Kingston Market. It is perhaps wrong of Lewis Foreman to suggest in his programme notes that ‘the Surrey that Phillips knew was not choked with cars and over-development as it is now...’ As noted above, by the time this Suite was composed, much of what we regard as urban sprawl was well on the way; there were some three million cars on the road and bypasses and dual carriage-ways were becoming common. What Phillips is doing is what we all do from time to time. He was re-creating musically an image or a picture of what he felt Surrey used to be like – or more appositely what he would like it to be like. Nearly seventy years on, the Surrey I think of or walk hand in hand down a country lane at Shere, is much the same as depicted here by Phillips. It is as much a creation of the mind as a description of an actual landscape.

The first movement opens with a walk or perhaps a canter through the park. This is fine music that is lightly and subtly scored. The main tune is sequential in an almost Handelian manner. Who could not be happy listening to this music? Who would not want to be tramping across the grass looking at the herd of deer and at St Paul’s on the horizon? There follows a slightly more melancholic tune – almost Sullivan-esque in its demeanour. This leads to an intense passage before returning to the canter and close.

The Shadowy Pines is a beautiful reflective piece. It has an interesting and inspiring tune for the main thematic material. The composer quite obviously wears his heart on his sleeve – but so what. This is the loveliest moment on this CD. There is a big climax which the composer closes down into a gorgeous meditation for solo violin. The movement finishes pianissimo.

The opening to the third and last movement reminds me of Benjamin Frankel’s well known Carriage and Pair. This is a jaunt through the town centre – probably in an open top tourer rather than a chaise! There is all the bustle we would expect of a vibrant market town – although the music makes room for a quiet pint in a pub by the riverside. The brass scoring is first-rate and the work finishes with a good downward woodwind swirl.

Moorland Idyll Op.61

This short Larghetto was composed in 1936 for an ensemble made up of members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Lewis Foreman points out that the whereabouts of the ‘moorland’ is not known; there are few clues in the music. However it is fair to say what moorland it is not. There is none of the bleakness of Holst’s Egdon Heath; this is not a millstone grit Lancashire landscape or Wuthering Heights. Neither is it the softer heather-clad slopes of Delius’s North Country Sketches.

The landscape is not wild – there is a country pub or a church nearby. Perhaps it is the South Downs or Chanctonbury Ring with views to the sea. This is a sunlit landscape – there are flowers and butterflies, not a Ted Hughes’ desolation. However this music is not impressionistic; it is not descriptive. It is actually quite ‘film-like’ in its structure and texture. Good light music.

Revelry Overture Op.62

Lewis Foreman in his programme notes suggests that this piece is the epitome of light music of its time. He feels that it sounds so entirely familiar that it must have been used as an erstwhile BBC signature tune. This is, he feels, how he first came across this piece, however, he has been unable to identify which programme it was.

The music commences as it means to go on – with a sparkling curtain raiser. This is quickly followed by a forward-moving tune. There is little let-up in the general mood of this music although I feel that there are one or two weak points in the ‘middle eight’ where the inspiration seems to run dry. However all is forgiven as the ‘well known’ tune returns in all its glory.

This is decidedly happy music. Here are none of the concerns that were haunting other writers and composers at this time. We do not find reference to the rise of Nazism here or the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. The only reference to the current political situation appears to be the use of castanets!

This is pure escapism and when we accept that this is the case we can put weightier matter to one side and take sheer pleasure in a ‘damn good tune.’

I agree with Lewis Foreman that this music sounds so unbelievably familiar – especially the big tune. Perhaps it is just a case that it is an unconscious parody of all that is best in light music melody construction. It was first performed on New Years Eve 1937.

Sinfonietta in C Op.70

This work is the most substantial on this CD. Of course the Symphony would hold this honour when and if the two outer movements are reconstructed. The Sinfonietta was composed in 1943 in the middle of the Second World War. Lewis Foreman points out that this work is ‘innocent and lacking angst’. With this statement I partly agree. True there are no tensions comparable to say, Vaughan Williams’ Fourth Symphony. However what I feel the composer is doing is reflecting back to quieter times (whenever they occurred) and is perhaps looking forward to peace in the future. Maybe this is reading too much into what is basically a warm-hearted and lyrical work. However there is a certain wistfulness and longing here which is perhaps not evident in some of the other works essayed in the CD.

It is in this work that Montague Phillips comes closest to the mainstream British music of the period. Of course he is no Britten or Berkeley, but this work is far removed from the Shakespearean Scherzo written nearly a decade previously. There is less here of the music of Eric Coates and Haydn Wood and perhaps more of the Forties film score type of tune. Some of this music exhibits a depth rarely associated with ‘light’ music.

The first movement gets off to a good fanfaring start. The tempo is Allegro risoluto. However there are many tender and reflective moments here. There is a lovely lyrical moment pointed up with a solo oboe. There are even some passages in the ‘development’ section that look forward to the music of Malcolm Arnold.

The slow movement is quite exquisite. The opening passage is scored for oboe solo accompanied by the harp. This music develops very slowly with an almost Elgarian longing. The oboe returns again to comment on the more romantic string tone. The only problem is that this movement is too short. It seems like no time at until the violin is reprising the theme quietly to itself. Soon the movement dies away into a dreamy silence.

The last movement is a romp. It is entitled a Scherzo – and this is entirely appropriate. We hear the orchestra playing some interesting rhythms of a kind not heard in this disc so far. The contrast between sections of this piece is effective. The sleeve-notes describe the second theme as ‘perky’ and this is correct. After a brief climax the music takes a march-like character. There is nothing of the Crown Imperials here though; it is a quietly sustained effort that leads us back to the opening music. Once again we aware of some very interesting orchestral effects – for muted brass and percussion. The work ends with a nice brassy peroration.

This CD represents an ideal introduction to the music of Montague Phillips. In fact it is the only recording (apart from the Hampton Court Overture mentioned above) which allows us to make an evaluation of this competent, imaginative and largely forgotten composer.

Philip Scowcroft is right in pointing out the ambivalence that exists between the ‘lighter’ and the more ‘serious’ sides of Montague Phillips. Apparently the obituarist of the Times noted him as a composer in the ‘light’ tradition

The truth about Phillips is probably a bit more subtle, as these recording shows. He was of the opinion that there was a place for ‘light’ music for the ‘great majority of people who lie between the ultra high-brows and the irredeemable low-brows and who can appreciate music that is melodious and well written but not too advanced.’ However I am of the opinion that this statement is not quite as simple as it appears. I can quite happily cross the boundary between so called ‘high’ and ‘low’ brow music – and I am sure many people can. I find that some days I want be involved with some complex organ music by Olivier Messiaen or Bartók string quartets. Other days I am quite content to listen to Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo-cho, Tales of a Topographic Ocean by Yes or She Loves You! Are these ‘high’ or ‘low’ brow?

What I do find about music like that of Montague Phillips is that it evokes a feeling of well-being – it does not challenge my political or religious sensibilities like say, Tippett’s Child of our Time. It allows me to indulge myself in my innocence – to a time when life seemed simpler and free from the ambiguities of the present. Whether this is true or not is academic.

Montague Phillips has given us a corpus of music which is extremely well written, it is tuneful, it is interesting and evocative of past times. It is self indulgent music and as such it is as necessary to our well being as treacle steam pudding and custard. I thank my lucky stars that I can take music like this off my shelf and sit back and imagine myself tramping across Box Hill or exploring the hidden corners of Richmond Park. And what is more to the point I can imagine all this without the guilt that I should be applying a more rigorous critical appreciation to the music in hand.

I recommend this disc to all lovers of English music and to all those who love music that is tuneful, well composed and thoroughly enjoyable. The sound quality and the playing is of course excellent. The sleeve notes are essential and the cover picture is so evocative at to bring a tear to the eye.

I hope that this issue proves to be popular and that Dutton or some other enterprising recording company will issue one or other or both of the two Piano Concertos.

John France

a further review from Stephen Lloyd

In the days when light music was taken seriously and given regular slots in BBC radio programmes, Montague Phillips was a familiar name. This was especially the case during the BBC Concert Orchestra’s ten years under Vilem Tausky (who died in March) who was a friend of the composer. Yet, amazingly, none of his works seems to have been recorded on LP. Only the overture Hampton Court has recently become available on CD (British Light Overtures Vol. 3 CDWHL2140). Marco Polo has so far by-passed Montague Phillips in its British Light Music series, so this CD devoted entirely to his music is greatly to be welcomed, with Dutton in what might otherwise be regarded as ASV White Line territory!

Montague Phillips was born in Tottenham in 1885 and died at Esher in 1969. From 1901 to 1905 he studied at the Royal Academy of Music where Frederick Corder was his professor of composition. At the RAM he proved himself a student of much ability, gaining both Smart and Macfarren Scholarships, as well as the Charles Lucas medal for a Symphonic Scherzo. He was organist and choirmaster at Wanstead in 1904 and at Esher in 1908, a post he was to hold for 35 years. During the First War he served in the RNVR and a posting to Scotland, where he was stationed with librettist Gerald Dodson, led to collaboration over the light opera The Rebel Maid for which he became best known. Based on a book by Alexander Thompson and with lyrics by Dodson it was first staged at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square in March 1921 where it ran for 114 performances. His wife, Clara Butterworth for whom he also wrote many songs, took the leading role, recording four of them for Columbia. Another, The Fishermen of England, became a popular success. In 1926 he was appointed professor of composition at the RAM.

Although Montague Phillips composed a symphony, two piano concertos (the second was revived in 1989 by Robert Tucker at one of his annual Eton concerts), a Phantasy for violin and orchestra, and a few choral works, he gained greater success with his songs, of which over 150 were published, and with his light orchestral pieces which he frequently conducted in broadcasts and with municipal orchestras. Nature titles such as Forest Idyll, A Hillside Melody, A Forest Melody, Hampton Court, In May-time, Dance Revels, Three Country Pictures, Village Sketches and The World in the Open Air (the last five being suites) suggest works of charm, freshness and innocence – which is just what they are. Montague Phillips’ music is distinguished by a broad, almost Elgarian melodic line, a lively pulse, and fresh orchestration, nearer in style to Haydn Wood than Eric Coates. It also has a rich vein of melancholy, best exemplified by the long eloquent tunes that open A Summer Nocturne and The Shadowy Pines, the second movement of A Surrey Suite.

This CD offers an excellent selection, including A Surrey Suite with its evocative titles Richmond Park, The Shadowy Pines and Kingston Market; this reviewer’s personal favourite from much replaying of a 1965 broadcast under Tausky (and later ones: in 1976 conducted by Eric Wetherell and another by Tausky in 1984). It comes up freshly minted in a convincing performance with Gavin Sutherland conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra. Also from Tausky days we have the Overture Revelry, Moorland Idyll and the spirited Shakespearean Scherzo ‘Titania and her Elvish Court’ in which one should forget Bottom and focus instead on Titania’s quarrel with Oberon.

The earliest pieces are two movements from the Symphony in C minor that the composer himself conducted at the Queen’s Hall in an all-Phillips concert with the London Symphony Orchestra in May 1912. It was received favourably by the Times critic, but with one suggestion: ‘One wonders whether the composer will not come eventually to the conclusion that some pruning will be necessary, especially in the first movement, and whether he will not feel that his music requires longer periods free from climax. Each of these is somewhat in the same style, a sweep up the gamut to a crash followed by comparative peace or absolute silence, and they come very often, and in all the movements. They are so well managed, however, and so exciting to listen to, that the ear does not weary of them at a first hearing at all; but one doubts whether they will stand the test of repetition and of time.’ Events made Phillips carry out the suggested pruning when, as Lewis Foreman tells us in his informative note, the symphony suffered a fate similar to Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony in that the full score was lost in Germany, its composer having to reconstruct it from the orchestral parts – or at least the second and third movements which became the Spring Rondo and Summer Nocturne on this CD. It was, perhaps, a happy consequence as ‘symphony’ is too formal a title with which to yolk these attractive yet by no means lightweight pieces. (The Times review, incidentally, seems to suggest that the slow movement originally preceded the ‘scherzo and trio’.) One probably has to go back to 1966 for the last performance and broadcast of these movements, again under Tausky.

The Four Dances from The Rebel Maid, as with any orchestral extracts from show music, work better for those who know the operetta. The Jig is the orchestral introduction to Act III; the charming pastiche Gavotte is the dance that directly follows the Act I vocal quartet Shepherdess and Beau Brocade, the Graceful Dance leads on from Abigail’s Act II song I want my man to be a landlord, while the last dance chronologically comes after the Act III introduction, though here without chorus. Although very much of its time, The Rebel Maid is a finer operetta than these dance extracts on their own may suggest and is worthy of reviving by some amateur operatic company. Set in 1688, the story concerns the invasion of the Prince of Orange at Torbay and abounds with plots, disguises, treachery and love. The libretto may creak but this is overcome by the music which contains many fine numbers, most notably those written with Clara Butterworth in mind. In 1966 Vilem Tausky broadcast a substantial selection that certainly whetted this reviewer’s appetite.

The latest work here – and the last on the disc - is a BBC commission, the Sinfonietta in C, which Phillips premièred in September 1943. In the first movement we find him quickly shaking off the shackles of the work’s formal title as he leads into one of his broad tuneful melodies. The wistful mood of the middle movement makes one feel that some nature title would have sufficed, and if the boisterous last movement is marginally less satisfactory, interest is at least maintained by the rhythmic variation of its themes and the contrast of moods. A delicate Arabesque completes the roll-call of works. There are no duds here. For anyone who enjoys tunes with a dose of nostalgia, this is definitely a disc to have. So switch on the BBC Light Programme or the Home Service, sit back and relax ...

Stephen Lloyd

 

 

Montague Fawcett Phillips (1885 1969)

List of Key Works

 

 

 

Stage Works

 

The Rebel Maid

 

1921

The Golden Triangle

 

1921?

     
 

Orchestral

 

Boadicea: Overture

 

1907

First Piano Concerto

 

1907

Symphony in C minor

 

1911 (rev 1925/25)

Phantasy for Violin & Orchestra

 

1912

Heroic Overture

 

1914

Second Piano Concerto

 

1919

In Maytime

 

1923

A Hillside Melody

 

1924 (rev 1946)

Dance Revels

 

1927

Violetta, Air de Ballet (arr.)

 

1927

Arabesque (arr.)

 

1927

A Forest Melody

 

1929

Three Country Pictures

 

1930

Village Sketches

 

1932

The World in the Open

 

1933

A Surrey Suite

 

1936

A Moorland Idyll

 

1936

Revelry Overture

 

1937

Empire March

 

1941

Sinfonietta

 

1943

Festival Overture

 

1944

Hampton Court Overture

 

1954

     
 

Piano

 

Berceuse

 

1910

Nocturne

 

1910

Violetta, Air de Ballet

 

1926

Arabesque

 

1927

Jacotte

 

1928

     
 

Chorus & Orchestra

 

The Death of Admiral Blake

 

1913

     
 

Voice & Orchestra

 

The Song of Rosamund

 

1922

     
 

Voice & Piano

 

Dream Songs

 

1912

Sea Echoes

 

1912

Calendar of Song

 

1913

The Fairy Garden

 

1914

Flowering Trees

 

1919

From a Lattice Window

 

1920

Old World Dance Songs

 

1923

 

see also Volume 2

 



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