13 Oct

Peter Yorke's "In the Country" - Some Notes

By  William Zucker
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It is wonderful to note that much music of worth formerly inaccessible to us save through radio broadcast or as background or signature use on television programs or documentaries may now be fully accessed by interested listeners thanks to the internet with postings on YouTube; much of this material though not all of it originating in those recently released series of Guild recordings of light music.

One selection I have discovered as a result of my explorations in this area is Peter Yorke's "In the Country," and having found it sufficiently engaging of my attention and interest, I have decided to share a few personal responses to it, as many light music enthusiasts, though familiar with the name of Peter Yorke, might not be familiar with this piece.

I find this to be an absolutely exquisite piece, offering the best to be had in light music, by virtue of its very straightforward manner, in both harmonic language and structure.  It is in fact so straightforward that I have found no need to write any sort of analysis of its workings nor include any suggestions to any would-be conductor who delves in this sort of light music as to how to interpret it as it speaks to us so simply and directly that I would hardly imagine that any problems would arise in its presentation.  I would hope at this point that there really are some light music conductors who would turn their attention to this piece and others of this nature.

Peter Yorke has been cited for showing many traits of classical music in his original work, in that a number of his selections bring to mind various works from the serious repertoire, although he does not appear to have consciously borrowed some of these traits that would cause myself at least to note such resemblances.

"In the Country" for me brings to mind one of Frederick Delius' best pieces from his earliest period, entitled "Summer Evening," especially in regard to its main idea.  Of course the two pieces are very different in scale and different in purpose, but there nevertheless appears to be some resemblance in the sense that I at least seem to receive the same images from them.

The title of the piece does not reflect my reception of the piece, which as I stated, is closer to the "Summer Evening" aspect of the Delius piece.  Moreover, I do not at all sense a rusticized country-like atmosphere, but on the contrary an urban environment well peopled, perhaps in an outlying residential area of a large city, on a summer evening to be sure, with people sitting on their porches or standing in the streets and chatting.  It was an environment I remember vividly from my childhood back in the wartime and post-war years where urban neighborhoods were like small towns where everyone knew everyone else, and in a sense looked after everyone else, without this anonymity of contact that is more typical in today's society.  This music as I listen to it, with both pieces in fact, directly conveys to me the picture I am attempting to describe.

The lesson to be learned from this is that despite a composer having an image in mind upon writing a piece, and advising us what may have inspired him/her to write such, we will always receive it in our own manner, with our own faculties, and form our own mental images, however subconsciously or subliminally.  These images are our own; in a sense they are what introduced us to a piece to begin with, and any additional aspects and insights that are later given to us, even if having originated with the composer, may be taken by some to be intrusive and quite frankly, unwelcome.  What I am essentially saying is that in regarding a piece of music, we should not become a slave to the composer's description of it, either by listening or by interpretation. Such description may or may not work for us, but in any event, we can only determine such by direct acquaintance with the piece in question.

This piece may be heard as part of an album entitled "Moonfleet," consisting of other selections by Peter Yorke, in all probability performed by Mr. Yorke himself with his own orchestra.

William Zucker

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Read 2183 times Last modified on Thursday, 13 October 2016 14:04

2 comments

  • William Zucker posted by William Zucker Saturday, 05 November 2016 16:17

    At a recent local event, I was prevailed upon to entertain at the piano and speak before a local organization. In this presentation, I presented a number of selections at the piano, including this one under discussion here - "In the Country."

    I should point out that in all my piano presentations, I worked without any sheet music, as I often do not, but rather learned these selections by repeated hearings until it was all mentally digested and I could present it more or less articulately.

    With "In the Country," my acquaintance with it was of necessity over a shorter period, so that it was nowhere near perfect at least from my own standpoint, and I feel that there is room for further improvement as I seek to work on it further, so that it is somewhat more faithful and accurate.

    However, despite this shortcoming, I was absolutely astonished to note that of all those that I presented, this one really came across in a most favorable manner, with many people questioning me about it, causing me to go into many of the facts that I presented in my article. Several of those present claimed that they too felt that they were being transported back to their childhood years, even if their individual experiences were quite different from mine and form those of others.

    And although I'm certain that none of those present at this event had ever heard of Peter Yorke, the fact that the piece elicited such a strongly favorable reaction (I'm sure that those present had no idea what to expect!), stands for me as a strong tribute to this man's work, and if I were to have presented more Yorke selections (which was not my intention), the same reaction would have been forthcoming, for reasons as I have indicated in this article.

    I neglected to mention at the outset that the event took place just this past Wednesday as I write this, on the 2nd of November.

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  • William Zucker posted by William Zucker Saturday, 22 October 2016 14:20

    Slight correction - the title of the album I was referring to is "Moonscape." not "Moonfleet." Sorry about that.

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Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
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