A few weeks ago I posted about Ernest Tomlinson’s delightful ‘Little Serenade’ which is justly regarded as one of his most popular works. The piece was derived from some incidental music written for a radio play, with the ‘book’ by Roy Plumley and libretto by Henrik Ege, called The Story of Cinderella. This was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1955. What I had not realised is that two more numbers from this production are also available on CD. What was more galling is that this disc is in my collection! These two other ‘survivals are the ‘Fairy Coach' and the ‘Cinderella Waltz’.
The ‘Fairy Coach’ opens with the magical sound of bells which soon turns into a lively canter: light syncopation makes this all the more charming. Tomlinson is a great orchestrator, making considerable use of woodwind, romantic strings, and percussion. The beauty of a radio play is that the magical transformation is all done in the listeners head. It is so easy to transform a pumpkin into a coach, six white mice into horses, lizards into footmen and a rat into the coachman. The music suggests a an opulent, sparkling, golden coach that is fairly bowling down the road to the Prince’s palace. The stars are in the sky and the frost glistens in the trees…
The ‘Cinderella Waltz’ is major accomplishment by any standards. This music is often reminiscent of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music and the waltz from his Eugene Onegin. One listener has detected an allusion to the ‘waltz’ from Khachaturian’s Masquerade, the suite of which had appeared in 1944. Whatever the precedents, this is a beautifully wrought waltz that has all the characteristics demanded of that romantic moment when Prince Charming dances with Cinderella.
I wonder if any more extracts from this radio play will surface? Whatever the case, the three pieces that are recorded are worthy of the composer, and create a magical impression on the listener.
The ‘Fairy Coach’ and the ‘Cinderella Waltz’, conducted by Ernest Tomlinson, can be heard on Marco Polo 8.223413. The Waltz is also available on ‘The Golden Age of Light Music: The 1950’s Volume 5 ‘Sunny Side Up’’ GLCD5142.