The title says it all: Parker writes light music, and the collection takes the listener to different parts of the world. (He also wears his talent lightly, the sleeve notes being witty and self-deprecating).
You might not know the name of Jim Parker but you’ll know his music; he has written for television and his scores include Foyle’s War, House of Cards, Midsomer Murders and House of Elliott.
If the seriousness of “classical” music puts you off, you’ll love this. The opening piece, A South American Journey, is in memory of composer Stephen Dodgson, who never went to South America, and features recorder and harpsichord, which are not South American instruments; the fourth movement nods to mariachi, which is Mexican. The titles of the five movements are in Spanish but Parker admits he looked them up in a dictionary. It’s true the flute sometimes sounds like an Andean siku (panpipes to you, like Mr P we looked it up in a dictionary) but it’s flutiness prevents the pieces sounding like one of those cheesy bands you see in shopping centres, and it’s entertaining stuff.
Bonjour M Grappelli is the next piece, a tribute to the legendary jazz violinist that reworks three of Parker’s old themes, with added Grappelli violin flourishes. There’s nothing not to like here; it sounds like a theme for a television show that’s not yet been written.
Three Diversions was written to celebrate the opening of the Ida Carroll Walkway at the RNCM (we had another album of music for the same event a while back; it must have been some show). These are lively pieces that sound in places as if they were lifted from a Mike Oldfield album, so even novices to classical music will find an entry point.
The CD closes with our favourite, Hoofers, four pieces for oboe and piano. The Flying Scotsman celebrates that train, which Parker saw when he was younger: train sounds from the piano, excitement and drama from the oboe. Lonely Ballerina is reworking of music from Midsomer Murders. The closing piece, Hoofers, celebrates the Bluebell Girls, dancers at the Paris Lido.
Easy on the ear, plenty of melody and variation and with a definite lightness of step, this is something of a minor gem.
The music is performed by John Turner (recorders), Anna Christensen (harp), The Solem Quartet, and Richard and Janet Simpson (oboe and piano).