Light Music Society

“By the River in Spring” is the title of a recent CD release from Divine Art (dda25069) by Kenneth Smith (flute) and Paul Rhodes (piano), which is full of good tunes and fine playing, and exemplifies the best in light music even if two of the works are titled Sonata, a one-movement, unpublished one by William Alwyn and an early three-movement one by Kenneth Leighton. Both are engagingly lyrical (Leighton’s slow movement is of surpassing beauty) a rather angular figure subject in the Alwyn soon “smooths out”.

The title piece is a nine-minute pastoral by Michael Head, new to me, in which a recurring cadenza for flute is punctuated by songlike sequences (Head’s songs were once popular). Harty’s atmospheric In Ireland is here too, as are four salon-like movements, all delightful, by Edward German, three in a Suite of 1889 and an Intermezzo of 1894. The Ulster composer [Havelock Nelson] visited the Americas and Eirie Cherie and In Venezuela recall this; both were specially written for these artists. Another BBC stalwart, Stanford Robinson, was better known as a conductor but Moon Maiden’s Dance reminds us that he could compose attractively. Thomas Dunhill, talented in many directions, seems now to be unduly neglected but the extended, challenging, memorably tuneful Valse Fantasia, brilliantly played,should do his cause good.

The whole disc is a delight and I cannot imagine anyone willingly being without it.

—Philip Scowcroft