Ron Goodwin

Salute to Lebanon

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There is a peculiar fascination in the fact that world musical cultures have been influenced by the images of themselves that have proliferated in Western popular culture, and this disc, originally released in 1962, offers a piquant example. Ron Goodwin was a British composer (mostly of film music) and orchestral conductor who also released a number of LPs in the genre known as light music in Britain and easy listening in the U.S. This is one of those, not sharply different from the many flavors of international exotica that could be tasted in releases in this genre on both sides of the Atlantic at the time. This reissue, from the United Arab Emirates, contains the original liner notes, here in English, French, and Arabic. The reader who knows the devastation that has come to Lebanon several times since they were written will find them a source of sadness. However, there is no reason to doubt their assertion that Goodwin "made a particular study of Lebanese melody and instrumentation." In 1962 he would have had a long tradition of Arab pop on which to draw, and he did his job tastefully and well. It is the instrumentation one notices: Goodwin's way of evoking the timbres of Middle Eastern winds with clarinets and the oud, with various plucked strings, is subtle and effective. It would be interesting to hear how this disc would be received in its home market, but its reissue there is likely to be connected at least in part to the music's respect for its source material.

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