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12 Oct

Flowing Stream

By  Robert Walton
(5 votes)

(Joyce Cochrane)
Analysed by Robert Walton

For me the name Joyce Cochrane has always been synonymous with just one composition, her beautiful Honey Child immortalized in Robert Farnon’s arrangement for the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra. So it was a nice surprise to come upon one that almost got away. Flowing Stream is included in the Golden Age of Light Music series in “A First A-Z of Light Music”. (Guild GLCD 5169).

With no intoduction the opening immediately calls to mind two great light orchestral classics - Clive Richardson’s Outward Bound and Benjamin Frankel’s Carriage and Pair. But this is Flowing Stream of 1958 played by the New Century Orchestra conducted by Erich Borschel. It was used in the same year as the theme for a British Southern Television series called “Mary Britten, MD”, starring Brenda Bruce. The juxtaposition of the two tunes works remarkably well in quite a different arrangement from the originals. Flowing Stream has a lighter textured treatment with a lovely feeling of peace and calm in a troubled world guaranteed to make you smile. Pure nostalgia you might say from a vanished era. Each time the strings go into a holding pattern, flutes ripple their way over the chord.

After 16 bars we go into 8 bars of a contrasting tune perhaps suggesting a change of scenery but with more tension. Listen to a descending string bass before the main theme repeats and completes a 32 bar chorus with a definite finish. In fact it’s a double closure of the first section.

And now the bridge. Modulating to a new key, a pleasant melody played by a horn provides clear echoes of the theme with a slightly bluesy effect but quickly returns to the delightful main strain. And then the tune (more laid back) is repeated yet again in two keys before going into that earlier 8 bar passage. Finally after a gentle restart the haunting Flowing Stream gradually builds up to a truly triumphant ending. By now it has become a fast moving river!

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