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One of the things swept away was light music. Although mostly consisting of inferior music,
it had been popular, especially when concerts included singers of numbers from musicals such
as those by Ivor Novello. When Oklahoma arrived from America, bustin' out all over
Britain, followed by The Beatles, bustin' out from Liverpool, light music changed from being
live to being dead.
Although being given the kiss-of-live recently by such things as these CDs of British
Light Classics and, to much eyebrow raising, from former devotees of BBC Radio Three, through
the medium of regular hour-long programmes of light music, there can be no doubt that light
music, if not actually dead, is certainly in a sunset home. In any case, the UK commercial
radio station, Classic FM, has usurped light music's former functions, and now
supplies non-stop 24 hour doses of diatonic classics.
The longest item on these two discs lasts for 5 minutes 10 seconds, and the shortest
for 2 minutes 23 seconds. In other words, the producers and composers aimed their light
music at listeners handicapped by what psychologists call 'short attention span'.
[listen -- CD1 track 15, 1:15-2:17]
and Hamilton Harty managed, on these discs, to create two examples of superb
musical art, each lasting less than the allotted maximum of five minutes. Of course they
did, because for centuries such skills have formed part of the stock-in-trade of
In his oratorio The Creation, Haydn produced one of music's most radiant
sunrises, and it lasts for a few seconds -- just about as long as the actual rising of
the sun itself. Notwithstanding Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe masterpiece of dawn,
or Carl Nielsen's Helios overture, or the glory of Strauss's sun rising over
the mountains in his Alpine Symphony.
Copyright © 20 March 2007
George Balcombe, London UK