Saturday, 22 May 2010

Sidney Torch: On a Spring Note

I recently heard a recording of an unidentified cinema organist playing Sydney Torch’s On a Spring Note. This is one of these pieces that seem to have fared better at Blackpool Tower Ballroom than it does on the radio or in the concert hall. With the demise of ‘pier end’ and ‘spa’ orchestras there is little opportunity for works such as this to be given an airing. There are a fair number of recordings of this piece on CD; however it never seems to be played on Classic FM. Perhaps it is given an occasional outing on Radio 2’s long running Friday Night is Music Night?

On a Spring Note opens on a sustained note, before a short pizzicato figure leads into the main rondo theme played by the woodwind. This is a typically jaunty theme that suggests a play on words of the title. Not only is this a musical picture of the landscape in the first flush of sprig, but also suggests that the composer has a definite ‘spring’ in his step. After a short bridge passage the first episode is given to the brass before the main tune is repeated. Shortly before the halfway point Torch gives a big romantic tune that implies that the composer may not be alone on his ramble through the fields or woods. After an extended bridge passage the main tune is repeated before the brass episode is given one again in diminished form. The work ends quietly after a final reiteration of the jaunty tune.
This is surely one of Sidney Torch’s best known pieces: it always makes me think of a walk through Epping Forest on a warm may morning.

Interestingly this music was used in a Pathé pictorial film Dave & Dusty (1949). This can be seen of the Pathe website complete with the soundtrack!

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