CD REVIEW – CECIL ARMSTRONG GIBBS - ORCHESTRAL WORKS
BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp.
Vocalion CDLX 7338

Crossings (Suite for Orchestra); Enchanted Wood; A Vision of Night (Symphonic Poem); Dusk (Waltz from the Fancy Dress Suite); Suite in A for Violin and Orchestra; The Cat and the Wedding Cake; Four Orchestral Dances.

It is amazing how much good light music has simply vanished over time, yet was staple fare on radio and in concerts halls for decades. Armstrong Gibbs (he disliked the name Cecil), was a member of the famous toothpaste firm and a delightfully talented composer, whose many works have lain neglected for far too long.

Three cheers for Vocalion, therefore, for releasing six premiere recordings plus Dusk, the only one of the four-movement Fancy Dress Suite to become well-known.* Crossings was written in five movements for a school play about children visiting a house at Christmas when one of them mysteriously disappears, whilst The Enchanted Wood portrays dances at night from grasses, flowers, trees and the wind.

A Vision of Night is a tone poem in the great Baxian tradition, whilst the five movement Suite in A for Violin and Orchestra was lost but happily rediscovered. The Cat and the Wedding Cake comes from Gibbs’ 1952 operetta Mr. Cornelius and the Four Orchestral Dances were completed in 1959, a year before the composer's death.

Excellent stuff and well worth investing in – after which, why not track down more of Gibbs' music, which includes three symphonies and a vast array of shorter works ?

EDMUND WHITEHOUSE 2017

[*In fact this is undoubtedly Gibbs’ most famous work. It was reputed to have made a substantial contribution to the composer’s finances for many years, probably as a result of very regular airplay on BBC Radio. Ed.]

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