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Lurking romanticism?

Discovering British light music -

'Sutherland and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia are ideal interpreters.'

British Light Music Discoveries 2. Royal Ballet Sinfonia / Gavin Sutherland. © 2000 ASV Ltd

The mere sight of a hornpipe or the hint of a breeze from the moor can apparently send the average British composer into a trance from the midst of which pops out A Suite on Ancient Druid Airs or A Celebration of Sussex Fair in Springtime. Romanticism lurks, I suspect, not far beneath even the atonally-hardened skin of the most severe moderns. And so Gavin Sutherland, thankfully, will never run out of British Light Music Discoveries. In fact he's discovering them faster than we can review them. This is number two and the most recent is five. It hardly matters though because, if you're like me and enjoy any of them, you'll enjoy all.

Number two gets off to a rousing start [listen -- track 1, 0:01-1:29] with the young Malcolm Arnold in an exuberant mood. His Little Suite was originally written for brass band. Composer Philip Lane has redone it for full orchestra. He reminds us in the program notes that Arnold admired Louis Armstrong when he was young and eventually occupied the first trumpet chair for the London Philharmonic. And so Lane has been careful to preserve the impact of Arnold's idiomatic writing for brass. The three movements are fast, slow, fast. They are short but filled with the melodic turns that make Arnold one of the more readily identified composers.

William Blezard is better known as an accompanist than as a composer. Before working with Marlene Dietrich, Honor Blackman and others however, he was trained as a composer and is represented here by The River, a short tone poem with a pulse and lovely dark-hued melodies that will indeed bring to mind powerful and majestic currents.

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Copyright © 4 April 2004 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


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