CD cover - In the Search for AtlantisIn the Search for Atlantis

8-Jul-2008

Freckleton opt for something different with a musical journey to the bottom of the sea via Arcadia and even the Normandy beaches...

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Freckleton Band
Conductor: Paul Dalton
Soloists: Vicky Byrne, Ben Tubb, Alex Thomas, Patrick Howard
WOS Recordings: CDWOS 001
Total Playing Time: 74.55


Have you ever spent any time in your busy life wondering whatever happened to Lord Lucan, Shergar, the first moon landings, the sinking of the Titanic or why Marple won the 1996 British Open? 

If you have then perhaps you are the type of person who has wondered why nobody as yet has found a shred of evidence to support the stories about the lost city of Atlantis.

Ripping Yarn

Ever since Plato started writing about the place 2,500 years ago, it has become a byword for fantasy and fiction, from its inhabitants being alien creators of the famous pre historic Mayan crystal skulls, to the pre Dallas Patrick Duffy swimming about saving humanity with the help of webbed feet and the ability to breathe underwater.  Still, it makes for a ripping yarn.

It also makes for a very enjoyable central piece of programme music too on this well delivered recording from Freckleton.

Written by the bands talented horn player Ben Tubb, ‘In the Search for Atlantis’ is very much out of the John Williams/Danny Elfmann school of filmatic scoring which is so popular at present.

Neat touches

However, there are also a number of neat little touches of clever individualistic thinking too, so that it doesn’t become a rather bland exercise in writing by numbers. From sunken tubular bells to adroitly scored ensemble accompaniment that drives the music to its conclusion, it’s an adept bit of writing by a composer with an ear for the slightly dislocated and edgy.    

In its way the overture to ‘The Arcadians’ is very much an Edwardian take on the Atlantis myth too– a story of daring do, bi-planes and songs with titles such as ‘That’s all over bar the shouting’ and ‘Plant your posies’. It’s a little cracker of a piece, well played too, although you can’t help but think of what would be made of the well sung line by the leading man, ‘I’ve got a whopper’, nowadays?

Serious note

On a much more serious note comes the other work on the release inspired by an almost mythical time and place – ‘Normandy’ by Henry Geehl, in what is a welcome recording of a long forgotten test piece for bands. 

Used at the 1947 Grand Shield Contest it was originally composed as a concert work for the 1945 National Championships Gala Concert, and although it is heartfelt and unpretentious (the middle movement is an elegy to his Geehl’s own son, himself a war victim) the piece reveals itself to be an almost naïve musical portrait of wartime endeavour and sacrifice.  

The final movement ‘Liberation’ in particular, with its repeated bell theme and homely folk dance melody following the opening ‘V’ for Victory statement gives you the impression that Hitler and his henchmen were shoved back to Berlin on the back of squadrons of highly trained campanologists and Morris Dancers. 

Control and nuance

Despite the musical reservations about the work, Freckleton deliver a committed performance full of control and nuance and there is much to admire about the understated way in which Paul Dalton and the band perform both this and the other works throughout the recording.

For instance, there is also a very welcome chance to hear a fine vocal soloist in Vicky Bryne (the bands flugel horn player) on two excellent contributions as diverse as Bizet’s vibrant ‘Sequidille’ from Carmen’ and Schubert’s haunting ‘Du Bist die Ruh’.  Meanwhile, Alex Thomas, Patrick Howard and Ben Tubb are all on splendid form with their individual contributions too, with impressive technique allied to tasteful musicality.    

Balanced

Elsewhere the rest of the programme is balanced and neatly conveyed, from the opening Grafulla march through to the warmly toned Kenneth Downie hymns, the premiere recording of Parry’s organ work, ‘Elegy’, the upbeat ‘Valero’ and even the homage to frustrated smokers and their underused lighters in ‘One Voice’.

A great deal of thought, preparation and rehearsal has gone into this release and as a result it is a fine musical advert for a hard working band. All they have to do now is find Lord Lucan riding Shergar in the 2.30 at Atlantis racecourse and it would round things off perfectly.

Iwan Fox

What's on this CD?

1. Washington Grays, Grafulla, 4.41
2. The Arcadians, Monckton & Talbot arr Wood, 5.22
3. Lord of all Hopefulness, Downie, 3.31
4. Seguidille from Carmen, Bizet arr Hall, 3.23
Vocal Soloist, Vicky Byrne
5. Ballad from Horn Concerto, Tubb, 4.25
Soloist, Ben Tubb
6. The Rose, McBroom arr Pritchard, 3.13
7. In the Search for Atlantis, Tubb, 6.24
8. Variations for Euphonium and Band, Lloyd Webber arr Graham, 6.42
Soloist, Patrick Howard
9. Normandy, Geehl, 9.21
10. Charivari, Iveson, 6.54
Soloist, Alex Thomas
11. Elegy, Parry arr Hall, 3.21
12. Valero, Swearingen arr Smith, 2.12
13. Praise my Soul, Goss arr Tubb, 3.44
14. Du Bist die Ruh, Schubert arr Brewer, 4.32
Vocal Soloist, Vicky Byrne
15. One Voice, Manilow arr Farr, 2.34
16. Into the Future, Downie, 3.28

Total Playing Time: 74.55

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