14 Feb

Bees-A-Buzzin’

Written by

(Edrich Siebert)
Analysed by Robert Walton

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Bees-A-Buzzin’
(Edrich Siebert)
Analysed by Robert Walton

The most recent volcanic eruption in Auckland, New Zealand took place about 800 years ago. It created Rangitoto Island at the mouth of the Waitemata Harbour. Fast forward to the 20th century and during WW2 a 6 year old boy was walking barefoot in the sand on the mainland opposite Rangitoto along Takapuna Beach, when he suffered his own personal ‘eruption’ - a nasty bee sting! Yes, it was me! There were no EpiPens in those days. By the time we got home my face was completely swollen and unrecognizable but the combination of a doctor and a brandy seemed to do the trick. I gather it was touch and go for a while. Luckily I have never experienced another. All the more reason to always carry an EpiPen. So hearing this composition brings it all back. I can’t help feeling sorry for my attacker though.

I never saw or heard the actual bee, but anytime Dolf Van Der Linden’s Orchestra happens to be playing Bees-A-Buzzin’ I’m straight back to the scene of the crime! There’s absolutely no doubt about the title of this piece, which enters instantly. The opening busy busy section is a good test for an orchestra especially one as good as this. Up, down and around goes the scale-like tune delivering the appropriate mood.

And so to a short secondary theme giving us just the right contrast to the main melody, which is standing by to rejoin the piece. And then we’re immediately into the bridge for a third tune adding yet another building block to this brief journey of continuous rhythm. The listener somehow feels freer (if that’s possible in this context) and slightly relaxed but as soon as the bee returns to its normal work of sipping the nectar, the melody takes on a more business-like tension.

Of course the most famous ‘bee’ tune is Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble-bee from his 1900 opera “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” with a more oriental flavour containing 50,000 notes! It’s intended to evoke a chaotic and rapidly changing flight path of a bumblebee. It certainly succeeds.

And in its own way so does Seibert’s Bees-A-Buzzin’ if somewhat less frenetic. It’s a sort of gentle entry preparing you for the hard chromatic world of Rimsky-Korsakov!

Heard on Guild Light Music
Confetti GLCD 5175

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14 Jan

English Music For Strings ǀ Sinfonia Of London ǀ John Wilson

Written by

 Chandos CHSA5264 (TT 64:46)

The strings of the superb Sinfonia of London, with Andrew Haveron as leader, are given a chance to shine on this, the award-winning ensemble’s fourth John Wilson conducted orchestral release on this label.

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14 Jan

BBC unveils series of programmes to celebrate musicals

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Perhaps not exactly light music as many understand it, but the following could be of interest.

The BBC has unveiled a series of programmes to celebrate musicals.

Elaine Paige (Ian West/PA)While theatres remain closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions the programmes will broadcast hit songs and performances from the world of musical theatre.

BBC Radio 2 will host three days of programming about musicals, while further shows will be broadcast on BBC One, BBC Four and iPlayer.

Radio 2 presenter and West End star Elaine Paige said: “Musicals are such a huge part of my life – as they are for so many of my friends and colleagues – so to be unable to perform or go to the theatre for most of last year was devastating to us all. Radio 2 Celebrates Musicals is a way for us all to come together, to be uplifted and sing out loud to the world’s best show tunes.”

Radio 2 Celebrates Musicals will run from January 29-31. The series of programmes will end on January 31 with a special show hosted by Sheridan Smith from the London Palladium. Smith said: “With so many amazing performers we’re going to hopefully bring some joy to all those at home, with the best songs to help lift the spirits in these very difficult times.” The programme will also be shown on BBC One in February.

Helen Thomas, head of Radio 2, said: “2020 left a gaping hole in the lives of musical theatre lovers with the shows being closed due to the pandemic.” She added: “I truly hope our programming will help to lift the spirits and capture the joy and elation that only these wonderful songs and performers can bring.”

image: Elaine Paige (Ian West/PA)

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11 Jan

Classic Diamonds - Neil Diamond - London Symphony Orchestra

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Capitol 602435318059 (59:43)

Here is another with a big difference: the vocals are also newly recorded in the USA by the 80-year-old singer, whose distinctive voice that can bring a tear to the eye is still strong. The orchestra is Sir Simon Rattle’s premier band, the 70-piece LSO, conducted by William Ross and recorded in January 2020 at the famous Abbey Road Studios in St John’s Wood.

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06 Jan

Ernest Tomlinson

Written by

By Robert Walton

Rawtenstall is the largest town at the centre of the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire, England. With a population of 22,000, it’s situated 15 miles north of Manchester in the ancient Forest of Rossendale.

Whenever I saw genial Rawtenstall-born Ernest at the Robert Farnon Society meetings, he always gave the impression of being a country person...

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By Robert Walton

Rawtenstall is the largest town at the centre of the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire, England. With a population of 22,000, it’s situated 15 miles north of Manchester in the ancient Forest of Rossendale.

Whenever I saw genial Rawtenstall-born Ernest at the Robert Farnon Society meetings, he always gave the impression of being a country person. He won a scholarship to Manchester Cathedral Choir School and Manchester University where he graduated in 1947. This solid musical

background paid off because the following year he was a staff arranger for a London firm of music publishers as well as becoming organist for a Mayfair church.

He was essentially a light music composer sometimes credited as ‘Alan Perry’. I first became aware of him through Little Serenade, a piece that was never off the air when I came to England in 1962. Because of that, I tended to associate Tomlinson with compositions of a rural nature perhaps relating to his roots.

Here’s one that is definitely not from that ilk but with an undeniably city feel about it - Sheerline. In fact it doesn’t sound typically Tomlinson at all but demonstrates he could turn his hand to any style should the mood or commission take him. If anything there’s a touch of Farnon about it. But it shows he’s right at home writing a busy rhythmic theme.

The introductory 4 bars don’t burst in like some compositions but sort of enter gently to join up with the waiting, catchy meandering melody. As well as being in a pleasant category it’s also ideal material for what it was designed for. Light orchestral music at its finest. There’s still so much of his music hidden away and demanding to be discovered.

The tune starts climbing immediately but not for long. With a mind of its own and sensing a journey ahead, it begins to dart about wherever the fancy takes it and keeps the listener on his/her toes. (Fred Astaire would be tempted). The harmonies are tailor made for the tune.

The middle 8 provides a perfect link, momentarily taking your eye off the ball. But it’s this constant caper as the melody twists and turns, creating one of the most perfect arrangements/compositions in this specialized art of production music. Ernest Tomlinson has created a classic, which would have been quite at home in the Chappell library.

And talking of libraries, when London publishing houses were throwing away skip loads of music, it was Tomlinson to the rescue as he saved tons of tunes for posterity. All devotees of light music owe him an incalculable debt of gratitude. As a footnote, actress Jane Horrocks (“Little Voice”) was also born in Rawtenstall. Guild GLCD 5232.

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15 Dec

Gautier Capuçon - Emotions

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Warner Classics 9029521413 (77’)

This is an album that had escaped my notice until now. Unless you are into downloads or still have a local record shop, it may be too late for Christmas listening but will provide ear balm for continuing troubled times in the New Year, albeit hopefully less troubled than when the disc was released in early November.

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27 Nov

CD Review – The Peter Hope Collection

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Mozart Records MR 31206

Following my review of the recent Peter Hope double CD set 'Through The Crystal', Steve Daniels, of Mozart Edition UK, kindly sent me a copy of this earlier CD, which was issued in 2007.

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27 Nov

John Rutter - The Piano Collection

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Wayne Marshall piano
Decca 28948 55333 (50:21)

John Rutter (born 1945) is a very prolific composer of mainly sacred choral works, many associated with Christmas. He has made umpteen recordings (Discogs lists 97) either as composer, conductor, arranger or producer.

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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.