Gardner: Flute Concerto; Symphony No. 3; Sinfonia piccola; Irish Suite; Half Holiday Overture

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Gardner
LABELS: ASV White Line
WORKS: Flute Concerto; Symphony No. 3; Sinfonia piccola; Irish Suite; Half Holiday Overture
PERFORMER: Jennifer Stinton (flute); Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland
CATALOGUE NO: CD WHL 2125
While ASV is probably right to include this collection of works by the British composer John Gardner on its ‘White Line’ light classics label, this is ‘serious’ light music. Charming, gently upbeat and generously tuneful as it is, Gardner’s music is also intelligently crafted, never entirely predictable and capable of probing darker moods – as in the brief but striking Prelude for strings. It’s obvious from the start that in writing the Third Symphony Gardner was not setting himself up as a rival to Walton or Vaughan Williams, still less Shostakovich or Sibelius. But it’s a lively, well-thought-out piece, and more than attractive. The musical accent is unmistakably English, and yet it rarely sounds like any particular English composer. It’s hard not to admire a composer who stuck to his own principles, writing music which would have been deeply unfashionable in the Sixties and Seventies, and doing it with such integrity and – apparently – so little bitterness. The performances are excellent: polished and affectionate – and Jennifer Stinton is an excellent, warm-toned soloist in the very enjoyable Flute Concerto. The recordings are a little dull in tone, but more than serviceable. Stephen Johnson

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