This is Curtis's second
complete disc on Campion.
Curtis is most at ease
addressing his audience direct through
melody, adroit orchestration and rhythmic
fibre. His music is light in the best
sense of the word therefore it is no
surprise to see Philip Lane's name associated
with the project as producer. As for
orchestra and conductor they have delivered
in this genre time after time.
Graduation Day has
the bustle and darting vitality of Portsmouth
Point and Scapino but it
is the overarching melody that marks
it out as memorable. It joins the honourable
tradition of flighty British concert
overtures. After ebullience there comes
the sentiment of Romanza with
its succulent and damask-heavy string
textures - a touch of both Enigma
and Tchaikovsky here.
The Little Dance
Suite has six movements. There's
a sumptuous Valse with some bright-eyed
work for woodwind, a posthorn-bright
Fandango (with Mike Allen's trumpet),
a slowly footed Sarabande, a
stamping Bolero with a nod or
two to Rimsky and Chabrier, an irresistibly
supercilious clarinet solo (Ian Scott)
in the form of a Humoresque and
a rompingly buoyant Tarantella recalling
similar local colour in the Curtis Suite
Paths to Urbino.
The brief Irish
Lullaby has a prominent part for
Helen Keen's flute but she is ably supported
by harp and strings. The melody has
about it the glimmer of Moon River
and the soft air of Kerry. Graduation
Day is another concert overture
of the type in which Curtis is adept.
The manner and melodic content suggests
for me that peculiar brand of 1950s
innocence and confidence. Autumn
Song has a touchingly valedictory
role for Helen Kamminga's viola. Its
relationships are with Finzi (2:50),
Elgar (4:53), Moeran and Milford.
was written to a symphonic scheme.
It is in three movements the first of
which is a variegated allegro scherzando.
It proceeds with grace and Elgarian
(Second Symphony) confidence and has
some warmly buoyant writing for the
brass complement. The allegro cantabile
is marked 'West of Dingle'. Its
genesis was in a glorious July day on
the Dingle peninsula. This is contented
sea music, winsome rather than stormy,
sun-dappled and not in anger. I do find
these Irish reels pestilentially infuriating
- not sure why - so I probably did not
warm to the final allegro con fuoco
as much as I might however it is
very effective not to say uproarious.
Bon Voyage! bids
the listener a fondly confident farewell
with all the joie de vivre of Dvořák's
Scherzo Capriccioso. Curtis
even weaves in a little ‘thank you’
to the conductor by including a quote
from his song Four Dollars and a
Dime from his musical Little
Women. Bright and breezy stuff and
The notes are by the
composer and are pretty full.
see also review
by Em Marshall