Sunday, 24 January 2010

Thomas Dunhill:Valse Fantasia for flute and piano

Thomas Dunhill was a composer who seemed to have his career divided into two distinct parts by critics. There was the ‘light’ music exemplified by the operetta Tantivy Towers, which is really a German or Sullivan-esque confection and the ballet score Dick Whittington. On the other hand he was the serious composer who wrote, amongst other things, a great Symphony (long underrated) and a fine Piano Quintet. His song 'The Cloths of Heaven' is near perfect. Thomas Dunhill is a composer who desperately needs to be rediscovered- especially his chamber and orchestral scores.
However the present Valse Fantasia belongs to his ‘light’ music credentials and is none the worse for that. The programme notes point out that the exact date of this work is unknown and could have been composed any time between 1900 and the end of the Great War. This is a lovely, extrovert piece that surely challenges the flautist in every direction. It is a summery work that is a product of Dunhill’s desire “that music should be easily accessible to the listener without the composer having to compromise his desire for personal expression or feeling obliged to follow the vagaries of some current musical fashion.”
This work is not ground breaking or even important in Dunhill’s catalogue. But it is thoroughly enjoyable. What more can a listener ask for?
This piece can be heard on ”By the River in Spring” Divine Art (dda25069) with Kenneth Smith (flute) and Paul Rhodes (piano)

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