The British Light Music Collection
1 CD1 Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006)
Roots Of Heaven – Overture (1958) [5:03] William ALWYN (1905-1985)
of Scottish Dances (The Indian Queen; A Trip to Italy;
Colonel Thornton's Strathspey; The Perthshire Hunt – Reel;
Loch Earn – Reel; Carleton House; Miss Ann Carnegie's Hornpipe)
(1946) [6:37] Sir Malcolm SARGENT (1895-1967)
Impression on a Windy Day (1927) [7:14] Clifton PARKER (1905-1989)
Glass Slipper – Overture [3:37] James LANGLEY (1927-1994)
Coloured Counties [5:52] Gordon JACOB (1895-1984)
Barber of Seville Goes to the Devil Overture [4:29] Maurice JOHNSTONE (1900-1976)
Hows - A Cumbrian Rhapsody (1949) [13:56] Alan LANGFORD (b.1928)
Worlds - Overture [5:11] Sir Richard Rodney BENNETT (b.1936)
Suite (The Bird's Lament; The Widow Bird; The Ladybird;
Glow-worms; The Lark) (1965) [9:49] David LYON (b.1938)
De Vivre - Overture (1972) [6:50] CD2 Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006)
Suite No.4, Op.80a (orch. Lane) (Prelude; Siciliano;
Rondo) (1963) [7:30] William BLEZARD (b.
The River (1969) [6:11] Adrian CRUFT (1921-1987)
Hornpipe Suite (Newcastle and Navvie; Irish; Del Caro's;
Oak Hill; Fisher's; Billy Bones) [7:04] Eric FENBY (1906-1997)
On Ilkla Moor - Overture (1938) [6:35] Raymond WARREN (b.1928)
Bells - Suite on Old Irish Tunes (1970) (Shepherds' Dance';
Lute Book Lullaby; Christmas Jig; Wexford Bells) [10:30] Arthur BUTTERWORTH (b.1923)
Path Across The Moors (1958) [6:39] Anthony HEDGES (b.
An Ayrshire Serenade, Op.42 (1971) (Allegro
moderato; Andantino; Molto vivace) [10:08] Paul LEWIS (b.1943)
English Overture (1971) [5:25] Philip LANE (b.1950)
of Cotswold Folk Dances (1978) (Wheatly Processional;
Constant Billy; Brighton Camp; Jockie to the Fair; Ladies
of Pleasure; Princess Royal) [11:40]
Sinfonia/Kenneth Alwyn; Gavin Sutherland
rec. Whitfield Street Studios, London, 1-2 April 1998; 24
June, 15 September 1999. DDD RESONANCE
CDRSB205 [70:11 + 74:08]
now set about reissuing the munificent ASV British light
music anthology catalogue. Things start very well indeed
with this slimline double; the first of three.
Roots of Heaven overture
is from Arnold's store of film music. It's vintage stridingly
romantic stuff (2:33) and has never been heard to such
good advantage not even in the hands of Carl Davis who
revived it on radio as part of a BBC Radio 3 British
film music series back in the early 1990s. Splendid stuff
- some of it softly jazzy and some African exotic. Gold
ebullience from Arnold. Next some Scottish Dances but
not from Arnold. This time it's a seven movement suite
of pastiche Handelian Scottishry with a good humoured kick,
skirl and intake of breath - liberally soused in uisge-bheatha. Colonel
Thornton's Strathspey is affectingly romantic while Carelton
House is a Mozartian wind cassation. The movements
are fleeting miniatures - never outstaying their welcome.
we can really call Sargent's reputation-famous Impression
on a Windy Day ‘light music’ I am not sure. Its language
owes something to Glazunov's Seasons but it's still
exhilarating. Clifton Parker's film music has a Chandos CD
all to itself. Here we have the micro-overture The Glass
Slipper which flickers enchantingly along and makes one
want to hear the children's operetta to which it is the
prelude. It fleetingly recalls Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony.
James Langley's Bredon Hill contributes honourably
and with a little magic - perhaps more to be extracted if
taken at a slower gait. Gordon Jacob the symphonist has been
to the fore again recently with the new Lyrita CD of his
two wartime symphonies. His The Barber of Seville Goes
to the Devil is a clever romp through some vary familiar
Rossini material. Britten was not the only one to triumph
in this material.
most extended piece of music in this collection is Maurice
Johnstone's poetic-nostalgic hymn to the water and landscape
between Hawkshead and Coniston. For my money this deserves
to be counted in the company of the Moeran, Patrick Hadley,
Bridge, RVW, Butterworth pastoral-orchestral pieces. It is
not light music - magnificently evocative certainly - but
far from inconsequential. It stands tall in this company.
Time we heard a lot more Johnstone. Not convinced - then
listen to Tarn Hows and hear that tender and treasurable
lyrical spell spun and stretched by a great melody at 4.23.
Alan Langford's Two
Worlds Overture does the brilliant ‘splits’ between
Copland, Arnold and Mozart. Richard Rodney Bennett's mid-1960s Little
Suite takes some children's songs he had written and
arranges them with a gentle and kindly hand for full orchestra.
At the same time it conjures up the essence of English
countryside idylls. Light on the aural palate.
David Lyon's Joie
de Vivre overture is based on an early clarinet sonata.
It at times recalls Rawsthorne's two concert overtures
married with the English Dances of Malcolm Arnold.
CD kicks off with Arnold's Little Suite No. 4: is
the orchestral reworking of his own Little Suite No. 1 for
brass band. In the original Arnold pays stormy tribute to
Holst's two brass suites. The memorable Siciliano is
superbly swayed and I think works here better than in the
original. William Blezard was a very fine composer - a pupil
of Howells and Jacob at the RCM. It is a more than usually
honeyed ech of Howells that we hear in Blezard's romantic
overture The River where two lovers meet by its waters
which chime in with their lyrically evoked mood. Adrian Cruft
in his Traditional Hornpipe Suite takes us back to
the Handelian frolics of the Alywn Dances. In fact these
micro-short movements would fit well across the two suites.
on Ilkla Moor is another of those overtures beloved
of the conductor stalwarts of the BBC's long-defunct Matinee
Musicale. It’s Rossini meets Ilkla Moor with lolling
eyes, a wink and a wobbly gait and of course that crescendo.
Raymond Warren's suite was the outcome of a commission
from the BBC Northern Ireland Light Orchestra; another
victim of yet another cuts exercise. Again there is pastiche
air to this music - Capriol is suggested in the
first movement. The liquid cor anglais carol of the Lute
Book Lullaby provides much needed delight in the face
of some Graingerian heartiness.
Butterworth's The Path Across the Moors is redolent
of the music of his own heroes: Bax and Sibelius. It is one
of the most accomplished and serious pieces in the collection;
vying with the Johnstone in this respect. This is probably Butterworth's
most played piece. It really is time we had recordings of
all Butterworth's impressively sombre symphonies, not to
mention his violin concerto and cello concerto. This piece
atmospheric music and should be heard yet more often.
Serenade was commissioned by the Ayrshire Symphony
Orchestra. It is not specially Scottish - more closely
echoing the light and the dark of Ayr's scenery - some
of it in Sibelian desolation - at least in the central
movement. There is a touch of all-purpose English celebration
in the finale but it's skilled and personable writing. An
English Overture is Brighton-born Paul Lewis's raucous
and rambunctious carousal. Make no mistake there's a pint
or three being taken here among the jostle of hornpipes.
Lane's Suite of Cotswold Dances cannot resist the
siren call of Malcolm Arnold - whose style is touched on
time and again among the composers' represented on this set.
Listen to the start of Constant Billy for example
- never mind the red-cheeked brassy stuff in Jockie to
the Fair. Mind you Constant Billy, Ladies of
Pleasure and Brighton Camp have a lovely Celtic
lilt as well. Philip Lane says farewell with a tripping hornpipe
in Princess Royal. Lane also provides the concise
notes for this set. The suite was premiered in 1978 by Sidney
Sager and the Bristol Sinfonia - who contributed to my musical
education while a law student in Bristol in the early 1970s.
Good to see their name again.
missed most of these discs first time around I am hoping
to catch the reissues. Roll on RSB206 and RSB207. This
is well worth the outlay – light music of euphoria and contentment.
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