Thursday, 3 November 2011

Philip Lane: Prestbury Park for orchestra

Prestbury Park is a heady mix of horses, music and countryside. This delightful piece originated as a brass band work some 35 years ago. It paints a musical portrait of Cheltenham Racecourse on any typical race day, although the mood does tend to suggest a summer’s day and picnics. John Quinn on MusicWeb International has suggested that anyone who has 'braved the crowds there, particularly on Gold Cup day will recognise the hustle and bustle of large numbers of people out for a good time.’
Like much so-called light music this work could be used as a soundtrack for a variety of pictorial images including holidays, trains and a ramble in the Gloucestershire countryside. However the composer does give the game away by including an ‘orchestral impersonation of a neighing filly right at the end of the work. And also look out for the whip cracks too.
In many ways Prestbury Park epitomises so much that is good about the genre. The main melody is both catchy and at times a little wistful. The instrumentation is superbly done and the piece is a satisfying whole. The piece is well summed up the American Record Review writer Haldeman who has written that ‘The music can stand alongside almost anything of its type: it has lovely melodies, incessant charm, and moments of incidental but sincere beauty...’
Philip Lane’s Prestbury Park can be heard on Marco Polo 8.225185

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