This album was officially released in conjunction with the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II of England, marking the 60th year of her reign. It comes with a small map marking the pageant route along the Thames, and the program is made up of British favorites that the London Philharmonic could probably play blindfolded (not to take anything away from the light-handed direction of David Parry). Yet this is more than a souvenir item (no photos are included), and even an anti-monarchist might enjoy it, albeit more as a guide to what the monarchy means in the early 21st century than as a celebration. The program includes such new traditions as the Chariots of Fire Theme, by Vangelis (who is Greek), and the James Bond Theme (indubitably British, but lacking the gravity traditionally associated with events of this kind). There is, however, plenty of tradition on hand. Thankfully it is leavened with humor from time to time. The opener is not Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, which is reserved for the end, right before God Save the Queen. Instead you get the Elgar piece's cousin, Walton's Orb & Sceptre, which has a delightful way of pricking the pomp-and-circumstance balloon whenever it threatens to get too inflated. Along the way are chestnuts like the H.M.S. Pinafore overture, and less-common items like Malcolm Arnold's bracing Padstow Lifeboat. Another Walton work, The Globe Playhouse overture from the Henry V Suite, adds the necessary Renaissance component to the modern conception of British royalty, and the program as a whole does justice to the persistence of the idea. As a slice of merrie old England in the present day, you could do a lot worse than this little collection.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Henry V, suite|
|Fantasia on British Sea Songs|