Land Of Lost Content

Sir Edward German (1862-1936) is often seen as being a second-eleven composer. People who have come across him associate his name with his light opera Merrie England . Of course German did write a deal of ‘light music’ yet he also penned two symphonies, much incidental music and a number of chamber works. I recently received a CD to review called ‘The English Flute’ with Celia Redgate, flautist and Michael Dussek, pianist. Among a variety of good things there is German’s Suite for Flute & Piano. This was composed in 1899 and dedicated to his friend Frederic Griffith.

The Suite is an attractive piece of ‘quintessentially English “music. It could be argued that much of these three movements nod towards the music of Arthur Sullivan. Yet this ignores the fact that there is a quality about this suite that goes beyond that particular genre. In fact the middle movement, the Souvenir , is a perfect miniature that well balances sentimentality with retrospection. To be fair, the Gypsy Dance does owe much to the ‘theatrical life’ of the late nineteenth century.

The rest of the disc includes works by York Bowen, Arnold Cooke and Michael Head. The last track is by a chap called Charles Stainer – but he deserves a post in his own right!

—John France