PETER DICKINSON (b.1934): A Birthday Surprise, Satie Transformations, 5 Diversions, Bach in Blue, Merseyside Echoes, Suite for the Centenary of Lord Berners, Monologue for Strings.

Catalogue Number: 05R065

Label: Heritage

Reference: HTGCD 211

Format: CD

Price: $12.98

Description: More surprises from the fertile imagination of the composer who makes you say 'how on earth did he come up with that?' more than any other. An appropriately diverse programme that blends outrageous eclecticism, astonishing originality, meticulous craftsmanship and effortless accessibility - popular appeal even - in roughly equal measure. The fantasia on Satie's Gnossiennes is breathtaking in its audacious appropriation of Satie's enigmatic little meditations to be presented in the guise of big band, blues, as the basis for grandiose neo-romantic climaxes and with their original mysterious calm elevated and framed in instrumental colors. The Diversions range from Elgarian English nobility and pastoral landscape painting to lively and jazzy light music, while the Suite manages to evoke in turn Gershwin, British brass bands (which also get a nod in the priceless variations on Happy Birthday, written for the 100th birthday of the generous founder of real classical concerts for children, Robert Mayer), noir-ish film music (music from the suite was actually originally part of the score for a TV film of an H.E.Bates novella with tragic undertones), and a lively waltz in Berners' own idiom. Merseyside Echoes' imposing opening fanfares incongruously and unexpectedly lead to delicious Beatles pastiches. That this glorious piece of elevated popular culture has never made it into the Last Night of the Proms is a serious omission. In case all this spirited bonhomie is a bit much, the early Monologue is a dark, brooding, dissonant elegy full of foreboding and uncertainty. BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Clark Rundell.

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