18 Mar

Look For A Star

Written by

(Tony Hatch)
Analysed by Robert Walton

I first heard Look For A Star in 1964 when I was a disc jockey (Bob Lee) on Radio Caroline...

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17 Mar

Journey to Mozart

Written by

Daniel Hope (violin) : Zurich Chamber Orchestra
DG 4798376 (69:21)

No apologies for recommending another Mozart release!

This one is an imaginative album from the personable Durban born (1973) English-Irish violinist who is also musical director of the first-rate orchestra, and recently signed a new contract taking him to 2022.

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01 Mar

Benny Anderssohn ● Piano

Written by

Deutsche Grammophon 479 8143

 

I am quite an ABBA fan but had no idea of how fine a pianist Benny Anderssohn is. This is a beautiful 21-track album of songs he wrote mainly with his lyricist Bjőrn Ulvaeus but also solo.

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17 Feb

The Film Scores and Original Orchestral Music of George Martin

Written by

The Berlin Music Ensemble conducted by Craig Leon
Atlas Réalisations ARCD008 (63.00)

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16 Feb

Mozart - Piano Concertos 25 & 27 - Review

Written by

MOZART Piano Concertos 25 & 27
Piotr Anderszewski, Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Warner Classic 9029572422

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16 Feb

Serenade and Divertimentos 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 - Review

Written by

LEO WEINER
Chandos CHAN 10959  
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Neeme Jarvi.

Serenade and Divertimentos 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

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16 Feb

Symphony No. 3; Sinfonietta; Serenade and Divertimento - review

Written by

DAG WIREN
Chandos CHSA 5194  
Iceland National Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Rumon Gamba.

Symphony No. 3; Sinfonietta; Serenade and Divertimento.

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12 Feb

Once Upon A Dream

Written by

(Bruce Campbell)
Analysed by Robert Walton

I can’t believe I have only analysed one Campbell composition. That was Cloudland for the 186th edition of JIM. Disgraceful! So it’s high time I rectified the situation and wrote another one. There’s no doubt Robert Farnon’s music had a huge influence on Campbell’s creations but at the same time over the years Campbell developed an instantly recognizable style. Like Farnon, he inherited the elements of good taste, mainstream modernity and above all quality.

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(Bruce Campbell)
Analysed by Robert Walton

I can’t believe I have only analysed one Campbell composition. That was Cloudland for the 186th edition of JIM. Disgraceful! So it’s high time I rectified the situation and wrote another one. There’s no doubt Robert Farnon’s music had a huge influence on Campbell’s creations but at the same time over the years Campbell developed an instantly recognizable style. Like Farnon, he inherited the elements of good taste, mainstream modernity and above all quality.

Just to remind you of Bruce Campbell’s connection with this highly specialized music. He was a fellow Canadian who came to Britain some years before Farnon and played trombone with well known British dance bands during the 1930s. Later as an arranger, Campbell assisted Farnon on radio, films and recordings and as composer became a regular contributor to mood music libraries. So let’s dissect one of Campbell’s most beautiful waltzes. He obviously had a knack for unusual titles too. Of course the idea for this title was borrowed from the traditional start to ‘fairy’ stories that has existed as a phrase for centuries. One of the first times it was used was in George Peele’s 1595 play “The Old Wives’ Tale”. 360 years later Campbell coined the phrase Once Upon A Dream.

There are two ways of introducing this piece. Either go straight from the top, or supply a few gentle warm-up bars to meet and greet the tune. The latter was Campbell’s wise choice. Judging from the gorgeous 4 bar opening, the harmonies suggest he was a jazzman at heart. Although basically a dance in three-quarter time, Once Upon A Dream is taken strictly in rubato tempo which does full justice to this laid-back hypnotic melody. It almost has overtones of church bells. Sensitivity is the name of the game here. The sheer lack of a steady “Silvester” beat is the very thing which brings it to life. This is purely rural music with not a hint of people, vehicles or cities. I know because I live in the country. So all those requirements are fastidiously taken care of by Bruce Campbell. Perhaps it was his Celtic DNA kicking in. The tune has a similar opening shape to Give A Little Whistle.

The melody gives the distinct impression it wrote itself. Calmly wending its way over the musicscape, the listener can easily trace the tune in what seems like a familiar strain. I vividly recall hearing the strings for the first time and getting the same feeling. There’s an undeniable freshness about the orchestration too, especially its simplicity. In fact it shows there’s no need to score intricate harmonies for such a basic tune. At bar 25 of a standard 32 bar chorus, listen out for a sublime moment before the tune first comes to a halt. This is in fact is the climax of Once Upon A Dream. Producing such an effect is like the magic emanating from the pages of a children’s story. I find it difficult to contain myself at this point.

Meanwhile manning the middle section, a flute forages in the leafy undergrowth of the woodwind section. This is answered by the rest of the orchestra. Eventually a horn and flute bring us neatly back to the beginning for some more glorious sounds. Once again we can wallow in those beautiful undulating string phrases. I just can’t wait to hear a repeat of that burst of brilliance just before the coda.

With a little help from Farnon, Campbell has again not only written some excellent production music, but also captured our hearts in one of his most radiant of miniatures.

Available on New Town:

Production Music of the 1950s
Guild GLCD 5224

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(Roemheld; Parish)
Analysed by Robert Walton

There are three songs I know with the English female name Ruby, popular from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th inspired by the gemstone. The name seems to be having a revival in Ireland at the moment.

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About Geoff 123
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.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.