Christopher BALL (b.1936)
Horn Concerto (2010?) [22:42]
In the Yorkshire Dales for flute, oboe, clarinet and orchestra [4:23]
On a Beautiful Day for flute, oboe, clarinet and orchestra [4:27]
Oboe Concerto (1995-96) [18:01]
Celtic Moods for flute and cor anglais and orchestra [9:52]
Invocations of Pan for solo flute and orchestra [12:36]
A Summer Day for flute and oboe and orchestra [5:13]
Tim Thorpe (horn); Paul Arden-Taylor (oboe/cor anglais); Roger Armstrong (flute); Jonathan Burgess (flute); Leslie Craven (clarinet)
Emerald Concert Orchestra/composer
Adderbury Ensemble/composer
rec. 2002-2010, All Saints Church, Weston-super-Mare
MUSICAL CONCEPTS MC143 [77:48]

Ballís standard biographical sketch tells us that he was born in Leeds, and studied clarinet and piano at the Royal Manchester College of Music among contemporary adherents of dissonance: Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies, Goehr and Ogdon. His teachers at the Royal Academy of Music were Jack Brymer, Reginald Kell and Gervase de Peyer. He took conducting master-classes with Monteux, Silvestri, Mackerras, Del Mar and Solti. His first interests in early music had him founding the Praetorius Consort with oboist and recorder player Paul Arden-Taylor. Composition gradually wooed and won him over and there are now concertos for recorder, oboe, flute, clarinet, violin, cello (2) and horn.

MusicWeb International has something of a track record for reviewing discs of Ballís always tuneful music as you can see from the following:-

Quantum
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2007/Feb07/Ball_QM7040.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2007/Aug07/Ball_QM7040.htm

Pavane
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Jan03/christopher_ball.htm

A review of Septemberís Musical Concepts CD of the Ball Cello Concerto and related pieces should be onsite before too long.

The Horn Concerto is a winner. Itís very much in the English pastoral tradition as the cover of the booklet might infer. Gusty buffeting music written perhaps to depict gale-swept hillside crests meets the stirring RVW-bluff and robust manner. The middle movement with its delicate echoes of Tchaikovsky Fourthís second movement contrasts with an excitingly windblown finale rife with hunting-calls. The attractively wind-carolling In the Yorkshire Dales is rather Delian and just as mellifluously emollient as On a Beautiful Day (minor typo on cover of booklet). The willowy lad of an Oboe Concerto strides out with all the confidence of an April morning romancer. In its central movement it finds Ballís accustomed calming centre of stillness. The finale has the buffeting energy and yeoman lungs of the Horn Concerto as well as something of an Arnoldian glint and hiccup. This recording has been reissued from the Pavane CD listed above. Peace and misty highland scenes pervade the Celtic Moods for flute, cor anglais and orchestra. The flute alone remains on the stage for the Invocations of Pan which is in three movements: Pagan Piper; Pan Overheard and Pan Piping. Two of these movements were heard on that Pavane CD in versions for solo recorder. The music is pensive-reflective in the manner of a classically Mediterranean pagan idyll. A Summer Day for flute and oboe and orchestra lilts and sways in a modern take on the Mozartean serenade.

The helpfully complementary notes are by the composer.

Letís have more from Ball who has an attractive facility for music that charms and dreams.

Rob Barnett

An attractive gift for music that charms and dreams.