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John France
MusicWeb International, 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)..."

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Percy Whitlock style is attractive and easy-going, with quite imaginative orchestration and nice touches everywhere. The marches are jolly and the waltzes nostalgic—The ballet of the Wood Creatures is especially charming. Gavin Sutherland directs the RTE Orchestra with his usual understanding sound a little scrawny ( the opening of the Waltz in the Holiday Suite, for example).

Paul A. Snook
Fanfare, February 2002

"Sutherland and his Irish musicians give this winsome music all the necessary lift and litheness it requires, adding another attractive, if minor, limited link to the Marco Polo British Light Music Survey."

Marc Rochester
Gramophone, August 2001

"Send the children off to the beach with their buckets and spades, get the deck chairs out, and settle back to soak up the atmosphere of an elegant British seaside resort in the 1930s...The RTE Concert Orchestra play under Gavin Sutherland with a wholly convincing feel for the style, and there are some excellent soloists.

William J. Gatens
American Record Guide, December 2000

"A few years ago, when I reviewed a program of organ works by Percy Whitlock (1903-46), I observed that most of the pieces have something of the flavor of the British light music of the composer's time (Priory 525; May/June 1998). That assessment is vindicated by the present release, part of Marco Polo's British Light Music series. Clearly this is Whitlock's natural idiom. The most ambitious piece here is the concert overture The Feast of St Benedict, a work that lost out to an entry by Cyril Scott in an overture competition sponsored by The Daily Telegraph in 1934. Even in this work, Whitlock reveals himself as preeminently a miniaturist. The piece could be better described as episodic than architectural.

Between 1910 and 1930, Whitlock was connected musically with Rochester Cathedral, first as a chorister and later as assistant organist. In the early 1920s he was a scholarship student at the Royal College of Music where he studied composition with Stanford and Vaughan Williams. When he was passed over for the position of cathedral organist at Rochester, he moved to Bournemouth, where he spent five years as the music director of St Stephen's Church, but eventually was appointed to the full-time position of Borough Organist, presiding over a large Compton organ in the concert hall of the seaside town's Pavilion. His contacts with the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra stimulated his efforts at orchestral composition. Several of his light music scores include a part for organ. According to Malcolm Riley, program annotator and organist for this recording, Whitlock took a keen interest in cinema organs of the 1920s and in the electronic instruments that were beginning to appear in the 1930s. Riley conjectures that Whitlock would have approved of the electronic organ used in this recording. I find it rather dull and nondescript compared with the fresh tone of the orchestra.

The music itself is always genial, abounding with high spirits and good humor, tender melody and colorful instrumentation. It is worth noting that a few of the movements survive only in piano score. Malcolm Riley has prepared the orchestrations in these cases, and the results are entirely convincing. Riley has been interested in Whitlock's music since his school days, and it is probably safe to say that no one living knows this music better...Gavin Sutherland directs performances that are both energetic and delicate. This is just the ticket for a delightful taste of music one might have heard at a Bournemouth matinee concert of the 1930s or early 40s."

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