British Light Music: Edward German
performed by Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra
(aka Czech RSO)
Conducted by Adrian Leaper
I do not own this recording, but Michael Burgess has provided the following review.
Edward German always had a love affair with the theatre – Tim McDonald tells us in the excellent and informative notes in the liner booklet included with this CD that at a very early age the composer built himself a miniature stage, complete with puppets, costumes and scenery – and this collection consists almost entirely of music written for the theatre he loved so much. Here, of course, the pieces are performed by a full-sized symphony orchestra rather than a pit-sized theatre orchestra, so the sound we hear is richer and fuller than that experienced by the audiences who first heard these pieces. It is pleasant and relaxing listening, and one is somehow left with the feeling that even the less-familiar pieces have always been buried in one’s subconscious memories; old friends coming back to visit after too long an absence.
For me, the concert suite, consisting of four pieces from Merrie England (German’s own arrangement, which I don’t recall having heard before), is the highlight of the disc, especially the Minuet, an instrumental rendition of "O Peaceful England." The suite lasts less than seven minutes, and is an absolute joy. No wonder Dame Ethyl Smyth referred to Merrie England as an immortal masterpiece; its melodies are still as fresh today as when they were first heard more than a century ago!
Adrian Leaper, who has recorded extensively for Naxos/Marco Polo, has developed a reputation for his interpretation of English works, and is obviously very comfortable at the podium for this delightful programme with the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphony orchestra in Slovakia, founded in 1929. Leaper shapes the music with sensitivity, and plenty of light and shade. I suspect that this music was previously unknown to that the members of the orchestra, but one would never guess it: their involvement in the music is total and thoroughly committed.
The playing time of the CD is a generous 67½ minutes – over an hour of sheer pleasure. My only reservations have to do with the quality of the recorded sound. Although it’s perfectly acceptable, I should have preferred a brighter sound. Perhaps the acoustic of the Concert Hall of the Slovak Radio in Bratislava is unsympathetic. Do not let this deter prospective purchasers, however. This is a disc which belongs in the collection of all lovers of the music of Edward German. At the time of writing (August 2006) it is no longer available as a disc, but may be downloaded from the MSN Music site for a low price.
Nell Gwyn: Suite
1. Nell Gwyn: Overture
2. Nell Gwyn: Country Dance
3. Nell Gwyn: Pastoral Dance
4. Nell Gwyn: Merrymaders' Dance
Gipsy Suite (Four Characteristic Pieces)
5. Gipsy Suite: No.1 - Valse Melancolique
6. Gipsy Suite: No.2 - Allegro di Bravura
7. Gipsy Suite: No.3 - Menuetto
8. Gipsy Suite: No.4 -Tarantella
Henry VIII: Three Dances
9. Morris Dance
10. Shepherds' Dance
11. Torch Dance
The Conquerer (Incidental music to Fyffe's Play)
Romeo and Juliet
13. Romeo and Juliet: Pavane
14. Romeo and Juliet: Nocturne
15. Romeo and Juliet: Pastorale
16. Tom Jones Waltz
Merrie England: Suite (Dances)
17. Merrie England: Hornpipe
18. Merrie England: Minuet
19. Merrie England: Rustic Dance
20. Merrie England: Jig
Recorded 1991, issued 1994
Marco Polo label
Catalogue # 223419