Saturday, 28 November 2009

Clive Richardson: Holiday Spirit

I have always loved ‘light music’ that evokes the spirit of ‘holidays.’ Whether it is Percy Whitlock’s eponymous Suite for Orchestra, Peter Yorke's Highdays and Holidays or Felton Rapley’s Southern Holiday, listening this sort of music has made me forget the grey days and think of places both near and far (mostly near) and more often than not by the seaside. Usually my thoughts takes me to Morecambe in the ‘sixties, Llandudno, Blackpool or to Bournemouth.
All the attributes are present in my minds eye – the piers, Punch and Judy, lidos and slot machines. Many of these things have now gone -the Derby Baths, the pier-head orchestras and the bathing beauties. However, it is still easy to catch a flavour of the ‘old days’ whilst walking along the Prom or listening to the Wurlitzer in the Tower Ballroom.
Nowadays one is most likely to travel by car, but in the ‘old days’ the train journey was part of the fun. Although I do remember travelling to Morecambe in my fathers old 1958 Hillman Minx. Would I had that car now!

No piece of music is so evocative of summer holidays or the expectation of that vacation, in Britain and by the seaside as is Clive Richardson’s Holiday Spirit. Perhaps this piece is better know as the theme music to Children’s Television Newsreel in the 1950’s but for me it is always evocative of the thrill of arriving at the on holiday destination and going for that first walk along the seashore. From the upward string motive of this piece the music just swings along. It is perfectly happy music with never as much as a reflective backward glance. The strings sweep the tune towards a slightly statelier ‘trio’ theme but the main them pervades the entire piece. Much use is made of tuned percussion and muted brass which gives a kind of jazzy feel to this music. The work comes to a sudden end. The holiday not so much over, as just begun!

The sleeve notes for the Naxos recording of this piece explains that the performing copies of this work disappeared and had to be reconstructed for Friday Night is Music Night.
Unfortunately, there is no recording of this piece on You Tube; however a nice short extract can be heard at Classics on Line

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