Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Frederic Curzon: Cascade Waltz

I have always enjoyed the music of Frederic Curzon since being introduced to his ‘Dance of an Ostracised Imp’. I guess that I always felt sorry for the poor chap and wondered what he had done to be sent to Coventry and have the misdemeanour set down in musical notation for all time. In later years I have come to regard Curzon's Characteristic Intermezzo: The Boulevardier as being his defining miniature. However I was listening to the Marco Polo CD (8.223425) the other day and ‘discovered’ the fine English waltz – Cascade. It is a shortish piece that lasts under five minutes, but is full of attractive music and ‘no-nonsense’ scoring.
An English Waltz tends to be slower than their continental counterparts, although the liner notes of this CD are at pains to point out that Eric Coates’ waltzes tended to be faster than one by typical of the indigenous variety. The main difference being that Coates’ waltzes were not meant for dancing, whereas Cascade would make a fine accompaniment to ‘a grand, glitzy social ball’.
My piano stool contains the sheet music of a number of ‘valses’ by a composer called Charles Ancliffe – the best known being Nights of Gladness and Smiles, then Kisses. These are perhaps the exemplars of Cascade which was composed in 1946. There is no doubt that this piece is ‘retro’ and would have been seen as a little tame in the post war years. Yet it is a classic example of the genre that combines a memorable tune with some excellent orchestration that does not rely on ‘effect’. After a brief introduction the somewhat stately ‘waltz’ theme is heard for the first time- certainly the characteristic feature is the heavy emphasis on the first beat of the bar. The ‘trio section’ is a lovely romantic tune on the strings that evokes an early and seemingly gentler age. This leads into the more exuberant opening tune.
I am not too sure where the imagery of ‘Cascade’ fits into the music, but it is surely a highly successful piece of ‘lyrical’ music.


Paul Brownsey said...

There's a snatch of it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Curzon-Malaga-Robin-Hood-Punchinello/dp/B001LYLOUY/ref=dm_cd_album_lnk_alt

John France said...

Thanks for that!!!