Monday, 16 August 2010

Clive Richardson Beachcomber

Clive Richardson is best known for a number of pieces including Melody on the Move, Running off the Rails and once popular London Fantasia for piano and orchestra which depicted musically the wartime city. Perhaps less well known is the fact that he wrote much of the music for the will Hay films, including that great railway romp, Oh Mr Porter.

Beachcomber is a very different kind of tune. This is much more laid back than the ‘transport’ themed works. Ernest Tomlinson has described this piece as someone ‘wandering idly along the sea-coast, inspecting the miscellaneous debris brought in by the tides.’ The 'Beachcomber' is no doubt a person who has retired from the hurly and burly of life in the city and is quite content to explore his local beach every morning before the holiday-makers arrive. Musically it is typical of so many pieces that were used as ‘stock’ scores for documentary films, newsreels and adverts. Yet there is a charm about this piece that transcends the purely commercial. The lovely theme which emerges on the strings maybe suggests something a little more romantic than looking for driftwood...
Although I guess that Beachcomber was originally conceived for orchestra, it is the sort of piece that can be transcribed for more or less any combination. I am sure that I have heard it played on the piano and the cinema organ. YouTube has a rather original version for wind band played by the ‘Senior Winds’
Beachcomber is also available on the Hyperion Label with the New London Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp. A short extract can be heard here.

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