I know precious little music written by John Fox (b.1926) however, his A Surrey Rhapsody and Portrait of (Princess) Diana are attractive works that have been recorded and favourably reviewed. Fox was born in Sutton, Surrey and studied piano, violin and composition at the Royal College of Music. Much of his career has been devoted to the production of ‘library music’ for the use of film makers. He has regularly arranged the music of other composers for use in a wide variety of venues. The composer’s autobiography My Musical World was published in 2009 by Eloquent Book.
The present Carol Fantasia is really rather fun. It was originally conceived for Steve Race’s Tuesday night Radio 2 (Light Programme) and in that version it included singers. However the work was rewritten for orchestra alone and it this incarnation that Naxos has issued it on CD. There is nothing profound about this piece: it is the attractive and effective arrangements of the well-loved tunes that deserve praise. Each carol is given a rousing interpretation for orchestra, however the setting of Away in a Manger introduces a more reflective mood for a few bars.
The carols used include God rest you, merry gentlemen, Away in a manger, The First Nowell, While shepherds watched, O come all ye faithful, The Holly and the Ivy, We three kings, and Hark! the Herald-Angels sing.
John Fox’s Carol Fantasia can be heard on Naxos 8.572744