, January 2009
"Every so often a recording is released which reveals a totally different side to a composer's character. For most music listeners the name of Percy Whitlock is firmly associated with the organ loft. However the pieces presented here are from the other side of this versatile composer's output. They are a superb addition to the great and largely underrated corpus of British Light Music.
...A big tune, interesting fanfares and 'minuet' section and of course fine orchestration. It lies somewhere between P & C No. 4 and Crown Imperial, as yet unwritten by Walton. If this piece were written by either of the two mentioned masters it would regularly feature in the Proms or on Classic FM. It needs and deserves to be better known...
It is certainly a good overture, if a little diffuse in places. It is very much in the style of Elgar's In the South. There are three moods presented in this piece - Festivity, Love and Religious feeling. The score is fine with many attractive moments.
The Wessex Suite is an excellent example of music evoking holidays by the seaside. It has three movements ...[Those] are delightful movements, the first being a waltz in the best of English traditions complete with a 'modern' trio. The slow movement is to my ears the loveliest thing on this CD. It opens with a short upward phrase for saxophone followed by the inevitable cadenza for solo violin. There is a rocking motion accompaniment, and then the truly gorgeous tune is given to the saxophones. There is some variation and a change in tempo before the main theme returns, complete with slightly out of tune violins - a lovely touch that evokes many pier end concerts before slot machines took over from Palm Court Music.
The movement ends with a quiet chord on the vibraphone. It is a perfect picture of lazy days by the seaside. Lovers walking hand in hand without a care in the world...
The other pieces of music which derive from the music to the 'Day Dream Family' is the delightful Mendelssonian 'Ballet of the Wood Creatures.' This is so short, at only three and half minutes. What a pity Whitlock never composed a full-scale ballet score. Yet this is gem. We cannot help imagining these woodland animals talking. The Balloon Ballet is an attractive tune with a 'spinning wheel' quality to it; well orchestrated with just the right amount of diversity for short movement.
This is great CD. One which all enthusiasts for light music will appreciate... Certainly the Overture and the Dignity & Impudence March could take their places along side most English music of the period. They are fine, competent pieces.
Light music should be tuneful, well wrought and approachable. Whitlock's works are all these things and more.
The sound recording is excellent, as we expect for Marco Polo. The programme notes could be more fulsome - but no doubt all Whitlock enthusiasts will own the fine biography by Malcolm Riley and published by Thames (1998)..."