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British Light Music Premieres - vol. 2
Philip LANE (b. 1950)
Overture on French Carols (2003) [5:21]
John FIELD (1782-1837) arr. Philip LANE
Flute Concertino (1980s) [12:03]
Haydn WOOD (1882-1959)
British Rhapsody (1945) [9:16]
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) arr. Philip LANE
Variations on a Theme of Glinka (1877) [8:49]
Anthony HEDGES (b. 1931)
Festival Dances op. 64 (1976) [19:01]
Carlo MARTELLI (b. 1935)
Romance; Greensleeves; Aubade [11:45]
Richard ADDINSELL (1904-1977) arr. Gavin SUTHERLAND
Harmony for False Lovers (1945) [2:40]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875) arr. Leonard SALZEDO (1921-2000)
Pas de Deux (from Carmen): Allegretto; Seguidilla; Adagio [7:13]
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland; Neil Thomson and his orchestra (Martelli); City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/Julian Bigg (Bizet)
rec. Whitfield Street Studios; Phoenix Sound, Wembley; Smecky Studios, Prague
DUTTON CDLX 7151 [76:58]

 

 

This is a motley bag reminiscent of the medleys issued by Lyrita in the days of the LP. Artists, composers and orchestras are mixed in some variety. Nothing wrong with that and of course there are welcome discoveries to be made.

The British composers are represented by original compositions and some arrangements. These latter include tinkerings with works by Field, Bizet and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Philip Lane seems to be here, there and everywhere in the British light music revival. His overture is lively, unassuming, bumptious, cheeky, playful and bright. It was inspired by Lane's visit to Bayeux and the playing of French carols in the Christmas marketplace.

The Lane does not take itself over-seriously and neither does the three movement John Field concertino. Jennifer Stinton, whose recordings on Collins Classics made such an impact, here takes the solo flute in smoothly modest sentimentality - sub-Chopin mode. Things become more lively and swaggering in the Mozartean scherzo - a natural for a signature tune.

Haydn Wood's British Rhapsody has missed the limelight. It dates from 1945 and seemingly includes no original British folk-tunes. Instead the composer seeks to catch through his own ideas the spirit of Britain's folk heritage. There's a long-lined Butterworth-like melody at the start which looks to A Shropshire Lad. We also get a Shepherd Fennel type dance at 3:12. There’s twittering hornpipes and a grand melody heavy with sentiment at 8:15: just a shade of Danny Boy about it. At the time this must have seemed very much out of date: now its charms are easy to accept and it has none of the lapses into tawdry to which Coates was occasionally prone.

Long-time collectors might recall an EMI Melodiya  LP of Rimsky-Korsakov's concertante works for solo wind instrument and military band. They were written together circa 1877-1878 while Rimsky was inspector of military bands. These included the Glinka Variations which here are given the Philip Lane treatment opening the way for John Anderson's oboe. The writing is typically winsome. But the oboe does not have things all its own way. There are some wonderfully hoarse and throaty contributions for and from the horns at 4.02 onwards.

Anthony Hedges' Festival Dances are from 1976. Their allegro vivace has a distinctive toe-tapping American accent rather like Bernstein but with a British 'kick'.  The bittersweet lyrical idea at 4.01 has the tang of Rawsthorne. The Lento is a lovely sustained piece with a suspicion of Rózsa's theme for El Cid. The allegro assai picks up on the brilliance of another British master, Malcolm Arnold - his best film music with a slightly alcohol befuddled hiccup. Overall this is a very successful piece of ebullient entertainment with its own green heart in the lento.

Carlo Martelli studied at the RCM with William Lloyd Webber, became a prized violist with various London orchestras, composed in modest quantity and wrote music for British films. The rather voluptuous Debussian Romance is adapted from the love music for the Hammer film Curse of the Mummy's Tomb. He made many arrangements for string quartet of English folk songs. The one played here is an expansion for string orchestra with satisfying attention to swell, delicacy, pacing and some fine breathy counterpointing. The Aubade recalls the composer's solitary rural walks. It is the quintessence of lilting English pastoralism; crudely speaking: Finzi-lite. All the Martelli items are played by Neil Thomson and his orchestra.

Addinsell wrote Harmony for False Lovers in 1945 and here it is heard in an arrangement from the published piano solo by the conductor Gavin Sutherland. It is one of those melancholy ‘romantic concerto’ moderatos: fetching, but over and done with in less than three minutes.

The role of Leonard Salzedo in the last three tracks is as arranger of three well known items from Bizet's Carmen. They were made in 1984 for dancing by the London City Ballet. The music is well known and these are sleek and professional arrangements catering for the practicalities of a cut-down pit orchestra. The three movements are crowned by a blessedly cooling flute and harp dominated adagio.

By the way, volume 1 is Dutton CDLX7147 and includes works by Carlo Martelli (what happened to the promised recording of his symphony on Dinemec, I wonder), Adam Saunders, Geoffrey Wright, Gavin Sutherland, Herbert Chappell, Adam Langston, Philip Lane and John Fox.

Some pleasingly inventive music here ... sincere, amicable and light on the aural palate.

Rob Barnett

 



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