Panufnik, Butler, Boyle

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Boyle,Butler,Panufnik
LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: The Upside Down Sailor; Dirty Beasts; Cinderella
PERFORMER: Richard Stilgoe (narrator); Soundwood Ensemble/David Campbell
Limited to a stale diet of Babar the Elephant, Peter and the Wolf and The Snowman, promoters of children’s concerts are sure to welcome these newcomers to the repertoire (though all three require more than a couple of hours’ rehearsal on the day of the concert!). The most successful is Rory Boyle’s treatment of Roald Dahl’s Cinderella which, seemingly impossibly, manages to make a hilarious poem even funnier. Martin Butler makes three food-related Dahl poems (from his Dirty Beasts) less funny because his busy score militates against verse which relies on its rhythm and rhyming scheme to be amusing.


The most ambitious is Roxanna Panufnik’s music for Richard Stilgoe’s (prose) telling of the true and terrifying story of the yachtsman Tony Bullimore (‘The Upside Down Sailor’). The score (for wind ensemble, of course, and incisively performed by the Soundwood players) is in 12 brief episodic, musically disjointed scenes reflecting a range of emotions, sound effects and the raging elements. Panufnik tackles these with much resourcefulness and skill, though with a degree of literality than can pall. If he overplays the didactic moraliser in his Preamble and Epilogue, Stilgoe – a superb microphone voice – narrates impeccably throughout. Time will tell if, at last, Prokofiev and Poulenc have some competition. Jeremy Nicholas