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Adrian MUNSEY (b. 1947)
Requiem (2007) [5:27]
Theme from Images of Nature [3:48]
The Right Words [2:38]
Faraway Place [3:18]
The Distance Between [5:20]
Broadwell (for a Village, its Church and its People) [4:06]
Beautiful Earth [2:28]
The Sky Inside [6:00]
I Would Lay Down My Life for You [4:14]
Voice of an Angel [3:02]
I’ve Been Praying [2:44]
Faraway Place [3:18]
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/Paul Bateman (Beautiful Earth, The Right Words), John Bell (The Sky Inside) and Nic Raine (The Distance Between, I Would Lay Down My Life for You); English Sinfonia/Geoffrey Alexander (Broadwell, Theme from Images of Nature); Janice Graham (violin), English Studio Orchestra/Geoffrey Alexander (Requiem); Elin Manahan Thomas, Keedie, Treorchy Male Choir, London Studio Players/Paul Bateman (Faraway Place, I’ve Been Praying, Voice of an Angel)
rec. 2005-8, Abbey Road Studios, London, Angel Studio, London, Barrandov Studio, Prague, Gareth Williams’s Studio, Cambridgeshire. DDD
Experience Classicsonline

Adrian Munsey has enjoyed a long career in film and television both as producer and distributor, whilst carrying on an interest in musical composition. This is his second album and it is varied and very enjoyable.
I recently heard Requiem in a concert by the English Sinfonia at the Cadogan Hall and was stunned by its eloquence and noble simplicity. Scored for solo violin and small orchestra, it’s not a Requiem in the Latin Mass sense of the word – there’s no singing and it’s a mere 5 minutes in duration – instead, the composer tells us that he wrote the work upon receiving some news which was “unbearable”. He created this piece because “I wanted the idea of being able to rest in peace through its expression to be of some comfort to those who hear it.” It’s a sumptuous little thing, beautifully laid out for the orchestra with a singing line floating above, and sometimes spinning arabesques round, the texture. It’s worth the price of the CD for this track alone.
Theme from Images of Nature is a richly scored miniature, with some very tasty harmonic changes. Indeed, Munsey’s harmonic movement is one of the hallmarks of these pieces. 
The pieces recorded with the Prague Philharmonic have solo parts for stringed instruments. The Right Words (apart from Requiem and the songs with texts I have no idea whatsoever of the meanings of the titles) is basically a verse and chorus for solo viola, attractively played by Zdenek Zindel. The Distance Between is a song without words for cello, eloquently played by Pavel Belousek; it contains a most ardent climax. Beautiful Earth is another vocalise but with a solo violin. This is music of longing. I Would Lay Down My Life for You is dedicated to the composer’s wife and is another work for solo violin. The graceful soloist on these two works is Lucie Svehlova.
To match the solo string pieces there are also four vocal works. Faraway Place is a meditation on a place where one can rest – perhaps, even though the words journey’s end are used, this might not necessarily refer to death for there is a going–to–sleep–to–rest lullaby–like lilt to the music. I’ve Been Praying is a more obviously pop ballad inspired song, with lyrics to match the straightforwardness of the music. There is a delightful and contrasting middle section. Elin Manahan Thomas sings these songs with utter simplicity and a sensibility most appropriate to the sentiments. The second performance of Faraway Place is for the choir with orchestra and is a richly harmonized arrangement. Voice of an Angel is a simple prayer for peace, with a lovely vocal by Keedie. All the songs have lyrics by Jeff Chegwin.
Broadwell (for a Village, its Church and its People) is English pastoral at its most tuneful and restrained. There’s a lovely oboe solo which informs the music. The longest work on the disk is The Sky Inside, a nature impression, along the lines of Butterworth’s Banks of Green Willow but with a more recent harmonic sensibility. There’s a YouTube video to accompany this piece.
There really is little more to say. The music is very approachable and most enjoyable. The recordings, made at different times and various venues, is very good and spacious, but the Prague sound is a bit too far forward compared to the other tracks. The booklet is attractive, there’s no notes, with lots of beautiful black and white photographs. All the pieces move at a medium pace but there’s sufficient variety to keep the interest. This is a very attractive programme of deeply felt, and very genuine, miniatures. Give it a go, you won’t, I am sure, be disappointed.
Bob Briggs


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