King: Songs of Paradise

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ALBUM TITLE: King: Songs of Paradise
WORKS: Songs of Paradise; Melody at Dusk; Three Impression; etc
PERFORMER: Mark Bebbington (piano)


After years hiding in piano stools, the light-fingered music of the composer-conductor-pianist Reginald King (a BBC stalwart from 1929 to 1964) emerges into the sunlight. Forget the syncopated thrills of his contemporary Billy Mayerl; though spiked sometimes with piquant harmonies and skilfully written, King’s output is of the drooping kind, with titles to match. Dreamy Willows, Moonlight Reverie, Lilacs in the Rain: he mostly seeks the palely beautiful, in the conventional ABA form.

Fresh from his advocacy of Ireland and Bridge, Mark Bebbington tackles these miniatures with all the delicate sympathy required, though he cannot widen their constricted emotional range. Melodies at best have a dainty charm, and surprises do arrive, from the jaunty intervals in Money Spider to the tortuous modulations supposedly characteristic of damp lilacs. But over the CD’s 76 minutes, even devotees of the repertoire might come to yearn for a bit of muscle and fresh air.


Geoff Brown