Monday, 28 October 2013

Ernest Tomlinson: Little Serenade

Ernest Tomlinson (b.1924) is one of the most prolific of all light music composers. He has been compositionally active since before the Second World War when he began composing as a choirboy at Manchester Cathedral. Tomlinson’s musical achievement is considerable, however relatively few of his works have appeared on CD.  At present there are some 13 albums listed on Arkiv which feature his music. Most of these are one number samplers. Only the two Marco Polo discs are dedicated exclusively to his works.
The delightful ‘Little Serenade’ is possibly one of the composer’s best known pieces (others may include the Suite of English Folk Dances and ‘Kielder Water’.  The piece began life as a part of the score of a radio musical play, The Story of Cinderella. Interestingly, the ‘book’ for this musical was written by Roy Plomley of Desert Island disc fame. This was performed in 1955.  The ‘Serenade’ is featured early on in the tale, when Prince Charming first sets eyes on Cinderella. It is at the moment when she is unaware of his princely rank.  The ‘song’ develops into a ‘love duet.’  This is a ‘delicately winning’ (Gramophone March 2000) little number that bears many hearings.
Tim MacDonald, writing the liner notes for the Marco Polo recording of this work, reminds the listener that this tune has been used as a signature tune in at least five radio and TV programmes and that the work has been subject to more than thirty ‘assorted’ arrangements.
Other survivals from this suite of incidental music are the ‘Fairy Coach and the Cinderella Waltz. The original play was commissioned by the BBC and was broadcast on Christmas Eve, 1955.

The ‘Little Serenade’, conducted by the composer, can be heard on Marco Polo 8.223413.  Other versions include Ronald Corp on Hyperion CDA67148, and an early performance dating from 1955 with George Weldon conducting the Pro Arte Orchestra on EMI 0887962. There is an attractive YouTube video featuring this music.  Finally I cannot resist showing a picture of the iconic George Weldon Light Music LP cover.

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