Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Brian Easdale: Secrets of Kew Gardens.

One of my discoveries of 2011 has been the short suite based on music derived from the film Secrets of Kew Gardens. This was one of the composer’s earliest contributions to the world of film music. Best known for his score to the iconic Moira Shearer and Marius Goring film The Red Shoes, Brian Easdale has written a deal of music in various genres, including a piano concerto and the Missa Coventrensis for Coventry Cathedral.

Secrets of Kew Gardens charts the course of the seasons on the context of the ongoing work at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Philip Lane has taken the original score which was for chamber ensemble and has slightly expanded the orchestration. He has arranged the music into four short movements: - Introduction and allegro; Spring Flowers; Summer Sequence and finale.
The music is extremely attractive albeit too short – it all seems to be over too soon. Easdale has managed to create an impressionistic mood that is wholly English - without falling into Delius-like clichés. This is especially evident in the shimmering Summer Sequence. Neither has he submitted to the temptation of folk-song. This short suite is a superb standalone miniature that portrays one of the most magic places in London with equally imaginative and magical music. The score leaves the listener wanting more.
The original film was made in 1937, and was released by the Fidelity Short Company. The director was Philip Leacock, who later went on to direct such productions as The Waltons and Route 66. The narrator was Bernard Miles.

Alas I have been unable to track down any commercially released version of this film: it is perhaps something that could compliment the fine three-volume edition of the GPO Film Unit and British Transport Film projects.

The Suite is available on Chandos 10636. Short extracts of this music are available at the Amazon MP3 download store.

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