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July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
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John FOULDS (1880-1939)
Keltic Overture op.28 (1930)
Keltic Suite op.29 (1911) (The Clans; A Lament; The Call)
Sicilian Aubade (1927)
Isles of Greece op.48 no.2 (Impressions of time and place no.2) (1927)
Holiday Sketches op.16 (1908) (Festival in Nuremberg; Romany from Bohemia; Evening in the Odenwald; Bells at Coblentz)
An Arabian Night (1936-37)
Suite Fantastique op.72 (from the music to a French Pierrot play) (1924) (Pierrette and Pierrot; Chanson Plaintive; The Wayside Cross; Carnival Procession)
Katharine Wood (cello solo); Cynthia Fleming (violin solo); Roderick Elms (organ)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Ronald Corp
rec. The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford, 8-10 March 2010
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7252 [68:06]

Experience Classicsonline

From the opening horn-calls of Foulds’ Keltic Overture echoing across the sound-stage and his achingly lovely melody at the heart of the overture (beginning at 3:03), I was transfixed by this CD. After purchasing it based on Rob Barnett’s enthusiastic review on this site in September 2010, the CD has already paid repeated visits to my player.
It is amazing that the superior light music of John Foulds has escaped the recording studios for so long. Ronald Corp and his enthusiastic BBC Concert Orchestra players give it their all in excellent sound. The quality of this light music is right up there with the writings of Elgar, Eric Coates, Edward German, Haydn Wood and Montague Philips.
The Keltic Overture is followed by the equally swaggering and high-spirited ‘The Clans’ that is the opening movement of the Keltic Suite. The middle movement, ‘A Lament’, once a favourite of tea-shop trios and brass bands, has emotional intensity heightened by the harp part and Katherine Wood’s cello solo. An appealing jauntiness marks the concluding ‘The Call’ for all the Keltic peoples of the British Isles.
The Sicilian Aubade is a lilting waltz - romance reminiscent of Vienna and at the same time Elgar. The sultry evocation that is Isles of Greece follows with its hypnotic ostinato suggesting gently lapping waves.
Holiday Sketches takes us on a light-hearted Germanic tour beginning with a ‘Festival in Nuremburg’ a mix of the skittish and ‘Ruritanian’ pomposity. Cynthia Fleming’s gypsy violin solo adds flirtatious sensuality to the ‘Romany from Bohemia’ and a whimsical solo helps the piece skip merrily along. Katherine Wood’s lovely cello solo invests a warm nostalgic glow to the enchanting ‘Evening in the Oldenwald’ while bells peal out and there is a strong suggestion of birds twittering and circling around the church in the final movement of this charming suite, ‘Bells at Coblenz’.
An Arabian Night suggests sultry darkness and lovers enjoying dalliance in the languor of a perfumed garden; the solos of Katherine Wood and Cynthia Fleming and telling little colorations like hushed, brushed cymbals augmenting this sumptuous atmosphere.
This whole attractive concert is concluded with Foulds’ gorgeous four-movement Suite Fantastique (from the music to a French Pierrot play). Its exquisite ‘Chanson Plaintive’ bowled me over, a really lovely melody in a delicate 18th century idiom. This alone, for me, is worth the price of this CD.* I was struck by the melody of this movement and felt I had heard something very similar before and some days later happened to listen once more to the commedia dell’arte-type of music written by Victor Young for Stewart Grainger’s character in the 1952 M-G-M film Scaramouche. The similarity was striking even though they were composed years and continents apart and I doubt if Young ever heard of Foulds. The contrasting ‘The Wayside Cross’, complete with gravitas organ solo, proclaims the power and majesty of the Church. The opening movement is a perky character study: ‘Pierrette and Pierrot’ and their cavorting. The concluding movement, the brio ‘Carnival Procession’ is all sunny celebration.
One of the most enjoyable CDs to have come my way for a long time. Spirited readings and sheer enchantment.

Ian Lace

























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