Analysed by Robert Walton
[Written before the composer underwent a change of identity to Angela Morley]
Just mention the name Wally Stott/Angela Morley and that’s your guarantee of the highest quality music. And that’s not just in the orchestration department that was this composer’s first forte. Once ‘up and running’ with compositions for the Chappell Library, all Stott’s tunes just oozed with class from the word go. There was no stopping him after the first effort A Canadian in Mayfair inspired by his great hero Robert Farnon’s Portrait of a Flirt. Although unquestionably influenced by Farnon, Stott went on to develop a very personal style that became quickly established in the world of light music.
Take Lap of Luxury, for example, written in 1957. It might not have been immediately obvious but the model for this composition was Farnon’s Westminster Waltz even though Lap of Luxury was in 4/4 time. I must admit I never noticed this until I took a closer listen. The harmonies might have been more complex but there was no denying the spell of Farnon isn’t far away.
After a brief mysterious introduction and not wasting any time getting down to business, we go straight into the ravishing Lap of Luxury, effectively Westminster Waltz as a foxtrot. But not for long. The melody soon goes off on its own tangent aided by some rich chords giving the feeling of absolute opulence. One might say from ‘lush’ to plush! If this tune doesn’t give you goose pimples I don’t know what will. After two gorgeous jazzy chords we’re back to Westminster Waltz territory again with an oboe solo and much less tension. Completing the first chorus the strings in close harmony produce another dazzling display of pure diamond-studded glitz.
Taking a leaf out of Stott’s Tinkerbell, two bars of playful warm-up woodwind continue to play when the tune restarts enriching the proceedings. Climbing to a new key the final 16 bars only confirm his arranging prowess with his love of strings shining through.
The lack of a bridge doesn’t seem to matter, as some compositions just don’t need one. And the fact that there are virtually no filler passages is a tribute to such a strong tune that just playing it through does it full justice.
The Chappell recording of Lap of Luxury is available on the Guild CD “The Show Goes On” (GLCD 5149)
This is extremely relaxing music, of a sort I cannot be bothered to listen to in detail but rather to submerge myself in, most particularly after I have retired for the night, and drift off into dreamland. At least that is the first impression I have received from it upon listening to it. I immediately followed this up by listening to "Trade Winds" from the same source, and this impression was heightened even further. It is music well calculated to relax the mind rather than to stimulate it.
As for the influence of Robert Farnon, "Lap of Luxury" did slightly suggest to me that one's "Seventh Heaven," in my opinion one of Farnon's better pieces, but this suggestion was more from a similarity of pulse than of musical style, which appears to be Stott/Morley's own. I have stated in a previous comment that unusual turns of harmony may or may not show the influence of Robert Farnon, and as such, should not be automatically so attributed. Moreover, the reference I just made to "Seventh Heaven" was made under the assumption that I was directly asked if I perceived any such direct influence, and thus my statement should be construed as offering a response if I had to provide one.
Nevertheless, the overall impression of this music is quite pleasant, and I thank Bob for bringing it to my attention.
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