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British Celebration
Bryan KELLY (b.1934)
Four Realms Suite [12:02]
David LYON (b.1938)
Piano Concerto in one movement [17:24]
Nicholas SMITH (b.1967)
Tears from my Bowl [4:33]
Roy MOORE (b.1948)
Celebration Overture [5:17]
Gareth GLYN (b.1951)
Snowdonia [12:49]
Anthony HEDGES (b.1931)
Showpiece [8:59]
Philip SPRATLEY (b.1942)
Images of Palaestina [14:05]
Alisdair Hogarth (piano)
RTE Concert Orchestra/Gavin Sutherland
rec. RTE Radio Centre, Dublin, September 1 & 2, 2015

Philip Lane has collaborated with Heritage to produce this CD release of orchestral music composed by leading figures in the Light Music movement. Each work featured on the disc receives its world premiere recording.

Bryan Kelly was born in Oxford and studied at the Royal College of Music with Herbert Howells and Gordon Jacob, and later in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. His Four Realms Suite won a BBC competition for light orchestral works in 1972. The suite, topped and tailed by an English jig and an Irish reel, is straightforward, uncomplicated and tuneful. David Lyon studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Bristol University. His ‘Piano Concerto in one movement’ was written while still a student at the RAM and remained unperformed until 2015 when it was overhauled by the composer. The concerto breathes the same air as the Shostakovitch concertos but with a British twist and a dash of Alan Rawsthorne thrown in for good measure. Alisdair Hogarth does the work, with its central cadenza, full justice. The concerto fizzes along and is highly entertaining.

Nicholas Smith's Tears in My Bowl makes use of two folksongs from Ningxia, a predominantly Muslim region of China, which date back hundreds of years. What we have here is essentially a very touching arrangement of the folksongs. Roy Moore has worked in most areas of music as composer, arranger, conductor and pianist, with artists as diverse as Madness and Andrea Bocelli. His Celebration Overture was written to mark the birth of his first grandchild. The music is, indeed, celebratory in style with its soaring string melodies and John Williams-like swagger. Gareth Glyn read music at Merton College, Oxford. His output is prodigious and includes the first Welsh-language opera to have been composed for over a century. The tone poem Snowdonia suggests the changing seasons, the grandeur of the area, even the little train that takes passengers up to the summit. After a lively opening the music settles down and the most memorable sections of the work are the melancholic and touching melodies that capture and reflect the beauty of the mountains.

Anthony Hedges is most associated with the city of Hull, at whose university he taught for much of his professional life. Showpiece was commissioned by the Friends of the East Riding Orchestras to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their Youth Orchestra. This is classic youth orchestra fare, with all the individual players being given their moment to shine. In terms of structure the description of the piece as a miniature Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is most appropriate. Philip Spratley's Images of Palaestina dates back to the mid-60s when the composer was in the Middle East. The title is the Roman word for the area and is used to stress the fact that the land is home to Arab and Jew alike. The third movement, a hugely entertaining depiction of a camel race, brings this excellent CD to a rousing conclusion.

This is a fine addition to the light orchestral discography. Personal highlights for me are David Lyon’s Piano Concerto and Snowdonia. There is excellent, detailed and enthusiastic playing by the RTE Concert Orchestra throughout under the expert guidance of Gavin Sutherland. The music making has brio and bite aplenty and the orchestra is captured in a clear, detailed acoustic. There is also sufficient contrast between the pieces to keep the listener fully entertained for the generous 75 minutes playing time. Highly recommended.

John Whitmore



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