Christopher Wright is a relatively new name to me. Before this
disc I had heard just one work of his: Munrow’s Muse
on Cameo 2082). I thus welcome the opportunity to hear more.
All the works recorded here are fairly recent. They were composed
over the last ten years or so.
The earliest is Idyll for Small Orchestra
in 2000 for a local amateur orchestra led by the composer’s
wife. Wright’s idiom is clearly indebted to what is often
referred to as the English pastoral school; none the worse for
that. The music obviously breathes the same air as that of some
works by, say, Delius and Moeran. It opens and closes in a peaceful
pastoral mood. In between comes a somewhat more animated, at
times more stringent section. This is delightful, and unpretentious
and the composer describes the piece as “a shameless piece
of old-fashioned Englishness, understated, reserved and pastoral”.
This is a highly attractive piece of music.
The other orchestral scores are somewhat different from one another.
On the one hand Spring Overture
is jolly with a
clearly outdoor mood - one may think here of Copland and of Walton.
On the other hand, Threnody for Orchestra
more serious partly triggered by personal events. This is certainly
the most overtly personal work. It connotes much more than its
comparative brevity might imply.
The other works are all scored for string orchestra and, from
what one hears, Wright writes beautifully and expertly for strings.
The very title of A Little Light Music
suggests Mozart’s well-known serenade whereas the titles
of some of the movements nod towards Britten. So, the second
movement is a deeply-felt Sarabande while the lively Finale is
entitled “Frolic”. Besides being superbly written
for strings, the music is not always that light. This is quite
evident in the Sarabande. Again, this is a very attractive work
and one that belongs to that long canon of British works for
string orchestra. Searching for Cor Anglais
is fairly substantial despite its brevity.
The melancholic tone of the cor anglais perfectly suits the nostalgic,
autumnal mood of the music. Composed for John Turner - who else?
- the Divertimento for Treble Recorder and Strings
a somewhat lighter work in three sections played without a break.
There’s a lively Presto giocoso
, a reflective Lento
a final Prestissimo ritmico
, a fast variation of the first
section in which the work rushes to its brilliant close on “a
super-high F”. Again, the title of Capriccio Burlesque
a similarly titled work by Walton and the music, as in Spring
, displays hints of Walton.
Most works in this enjoyable release are primarily entertaining
and unpretentious, but this one nonetheless illustrates the composer’s
more serious intent in Threnody
As already mentioned, the music is superbly crafted and always
makes its point without undue fuss and, by doing so, never outstays
All these performances are very fine indeed as is the recording.
This release is well up to Dutton’s best standards. This
is a highly enjoyable and rewarding release of Christopher Wright’s
well-crafted and honest music-making. The music is well worth
more than the occasional hearing.
see also review by Rob Barnett