Thursday, 22 April 2010

Sidney Torch: Radio Romantic

I guess that they said that once television came on the scene that it would be the end of radio. However, this has proved not to be the case. But what has happened is that very few radio stations play ‘light’ music any more. What was once the preserve of the great tracts of the ‘Light Programme’ has been reduced to virtually a single programme – Friday Night is Music Night. Even Classic FM barely touches this genre of music – instead it tends to concentrate on film music when it deviates from the ‘purer’ classics.

Radio Romantic is an excellent example of what has been lost from the airwaves: it typifies so much music that was written in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
The short piece opens with a fanfare which builds up to a climax before a harp glissando leads to the principal romantic theme. This is quite definitely parodying film music: the mood is one of despair and suppressed longing. The music quietness down a little but is still heart-achingly romantic. There is a short bridge passage which is followed by figures for cello and woodwind. The intensity builds up again and after another fanfare the string reprise the love theme. Yet this time there is an air of optimism about it: it is no longer despairing. The mind’s eye can see two lovers meeting on the station after a long separation. As they walk down the platform the credits roll and you know they are going to live happily ever after!

It is strange that no-one seems to write about these short, but extremely attractive pieces of music. It is as if they are deemed not to be worthy of serious attention. Of course, they are not Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet or Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, but in their class they are often attractive and immediately approachable.
Radio Romantic is a case in point. It is a lovely romantic piece that never fails to conjure up black and white, tear-jerking films and the time when music like this was heard every day.

Radio Romantic can be heard on Dutton Vocalion CDEA 6021

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