Matthew CURTIS (b.1959)
Orchestral Works (Volume IV)
A Festival Overture [4:32]
Short and Suite (Valse; Intermezzo; Fancy Free; On the River; Striding Edge) [9:34]
Variations on a Theme of Verdi [10:25]
Four Winds Suite (In the Town (South-Easterlies); On the Hills (Northerlies); Italian Serenade (South-Westerlies); By the Sea (Easterlies)) [26:20]
Autumn Leaves [4:33]; Sterling Silver [7:59]; Summer Serenade [3:34]; Christmas Rush [4:02]
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland
rec. 2008-9, Studio 1 Abbey Road, and Angel Studios, London. DDD
British Composer series
CAMPION CAMEO 2085 [79.47]

After three Cameo orchestral volumes (2015, 2035, 2055 (not reviewed as yet)) Matthew Curtis's music needs little introduction. He is a magician of light exuberant music in the grand British tradition. A Festival Overture frills and thrills, a touch of Walton and a dash of rumba confidently whizzed with silvery yearning romance. The three movement Short and Suite is high, wide and handsome with tinkling percussion and that sense of the chandeliered ballroom typified by Barber's Souvenirs. After the tender Intermezzo we get a finale Fancy Free which steers a bit too close to queasy Coates but itís done with unblinking aplomb. On The River is a miracle of lissom romance and cool evening zephyrs. Contrast this with Striding Edge which has the petticoat circus bustle of Khachaturian's Masquerade: the antithesis of On the river. Variations on a Theme of Verdi is a theme and six variations with a coda. The Tarantella Variation is very balletic and is followed by III and IV which are tender explorations. It follows a grand tradition and at the end is rather Brahmsian but with cross-currents from Wood's Sea Song Variations. The Four Winds Suite is in four substantial movements. South-Easterlies is bubbly and bustly. On the Hills - Northerlies is more measured and reflective; broad but not unsunny. Italian Serenade is full of pent-up energy brightly released with an oompah underpinning. Thereís a fast carefree pulse and a sense of raputre. Canít be bad. By the Sea (Easterlies) has a jaunty touch of Coates about it as it rushes onwards; brilliantly done. Autumn Leaves is another peaceable kingdom of a piece with an amber-hued clarinet catching the falling low sunlight. It inhabits the same glossary as On the River. Sterling Silver has that Waltonian celebratory upbeat we last heard in A Festival Overture. It's magnificently snapped out by the RBS and Gavin Sutherland. The little Summer Serenade is warm, witty and touching with a corker of a long-lined melody. Christmas Rush roars upwards and bustles among the best. It evokes smiling crowds with none of the contemporary heartless commercialism. At just short of 80 minutes of music you cannot claim that the composer or Cameo have been abstemious. What price a volume 5?

Rob Barnett

A magician of light exuberant music in the grand British tradition.