Various Artists

British Film Composers In Concert

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The composers featured on this disc are primarily known for their film music and even then, are probably not well known outside of the United Kingdom. All of the pieces were written in the mid-twentieth century and fit into that stylistic line that stretches from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Malcolm Arnold. While none of the pieces stands out as a neglected "classic," they are charming and have interesting features that make them worthy of an occasional performance. That they are performed here by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Gavin Sutherland is appropriate, given most of the pieces' relation to dance or the stage in some fashion. The opening Thieves' Carnival overture was written as a reminiscence of Jean Anouilh's play. Its iambic rhythms in the woodwinds playing against running strings and similar juxtapositions result in a lively piece tinted with pentatonic harmonies. The following Two Choreographic Studies, also by Clifton Parker, sound more like Khachaturian's ballets than the Spanish and Cuban dances they are meant to represent. Leighton Lucas' Ballet de la Reine is a stylized Renaissance dance suite, with forceful outer movements framing lighter dances that are even more delicate and gentle than similar works by Ravel, Warlock, and Respighi. The Eire Suite by Anthony Collins and the Scottish Aubade and Scottish Lullaby by Bruce Montgomery all make use of folksong, painting unmistakable pictures of Celtic countrysides. Eric Rogers' Palladium Symphony is dedicated to his dancer wife and dramatically combines colorful motives and themes, in a way similar to Ferde Grofé in his suites, that seem just right for pre-1960 films. Sutherland and the orchestra deftly handle passing melodies from instrument to instrument and the Scherzo's frequent rhythmic shifts. All in all, these works merit another listen.

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