Though surely not the first disc of light British orchestral music the neophyte should hear -- a disc that includes Vaughan Williams' Greensleeves Fantasia and Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches should certainly have that honor -- this two-disc set, called The British Light Music Collection, Vol. 1, will delight fans of orchestral music from the Land of Hope and Glory. Of course, only the most dedicated fans of British music will have heard of some of these 17 composers. And even the most dedicated of fans will probably be unfamiliar with Malcolm Arnold's Little Suite, Gordon Jacob's The Barber of Seville Goes to the Devil Overture, or Eric Fenby's Rossini on Ilkla Moor Overture. Yet all these pieces, even the most obscure, have their charming tunes, their enchanting colors, their infectious rhythms, and their witty formal structures. While only a madman would listen to both discs straight through -- too many aural confections in a row are likely to bring on the musical equivalent of an upset stomach -- selected samplings will cause all but the most curmudgeonly listeners to break out in a smile. Superbly performed with a deft but affectionate touch by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Gavin Sutherland, this disc should be heard by anyone who loves British music without reservation.
The British Light Music Collection, Vol. 1 Review
by James Leonard