Paul Carr – Crowded Streets – CC4833
£9.99 – £15.99
“Carr writes music that is without pretence, fluent and fluid, singing, concise and joyous”
“Do not miss this disc if you are well disposed to a dreamy and lightly jazzy British ambience”
“Easier listening. Far from facile”
I came to live in Brighton in the April of 1992. My first meeting with composer and conductor Guy Richardson led to the writing of Occasional Postcards for wind quintet & strings, which has become one of my most popular and frequently performed works. Guy conducted the first performance with the Brighton Chamber Orchestra, for whom it was written, in St. John’s Church, Brighton, on July 17th 1993. There are five short movements depicting memorable occasions in my life, beginning with the hustle & bustle Through Crowded Streets of Brighton’s busy North Laine district as enjoyed one bright Saturday morning. Bicycles in Summer Rain was written after an afternoon spent in London’s Kensington Gardens; a short summer shower sent everyone running for the haven of heavy leafy trees, all except the tight lycra brigade who sped past as though nothing had happened – the sound of the rain only broken by the honking horns and squeaking taxis of the rush hour traffic. The Boys On The Beach were wild and jubilant in the midday sun – drinking beer and playing ball on Brighton’s famous pebbled beach, and entertaining the passers by in the process. A beautiful Summer Evening was spent with my friend Mr. Charles P. Russell (to whom this piece is dedicated) in the “Orangerie’ on L’lle Saint Louis in Paris. An occasion made memorable by a fabulous dessert and the presence of Yves Saint Laurent, and dog, seated at the next table. The brightness of Florence a seductive frisson, and the warm passions of Italy create a Tuscan Diary, joyus and vibrant in the summer air. Concerto For Two Saxophones & Orchestra was written for Andrew Sutton and Andrew Franks who gave the premiere with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra in Hove Town Hall on the 16th July, 1994, conducted by Mark Andrew- James. An address was given at the start by the then Mayor of Hove, who expressed a certain apprehension at the unveiling of a new work by an unknown composer. However, to my complete surprise, the performance was greeted with a standing ovation, and I was whisked away to a “mayoral reception” of champagne and humble pie. A memorable night! The concerto is in three movements and scored for solo soprano and alto saxophones with double wind (omitting clarinets), two trumpets, two horns, and strings, minimal percussion and a few added notes on the tuba. I like to think of the dialogue between the two solo instruments as a love affair with the soprano sax being the more virtuous but undoubtedly succumbing to the sensual flirtations of the alto.
Having reviewed an exhibition of “Paintings from Newlyn” at the Barbican, in London, The Times art critic cited a “beautiful pencil sketch of a Girl On A Beach Under A Sunshade ” as one of the highlights. The “Girl” in question was my great Aunt, Gwenneth Jones – Parry. As a child, my memories of this extraordinary individual (bed ridden by choice in the last years of her life, reading the Financial Times daily, chain smoking, and writing a novel) were of a bold and brilliant woman, who judging by this sketch must have set many hearts aflame. Her sensuality is expressed here by the celebrated artist Sir Alfred Munnings, who pencilled this provocative drawing as she lay on a Cornish beach the afternoon of July 27th, 1916. The sketch was reproduced postcard size on the arts page and the title given by the art critic at once suggested a short piece of music, which I set for solo bassoon with a small orchestra of flute, clarinet, horn, harp and strings. It is dedicated to my parents, and the first performance was beautifully played by Sarah Martin and the Brighton Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mark Andrew – James in St. Luke’s Church, on the 16th July, 1994.
Concerto for Clarinet & Small Orchestra is small in scale, and remains my personal favourite. It is in three movements and scored for wind quintet, trumpet, harp, and seven strings.
Collage, concerto in one movement, for alto saxophone, piano & chamber orchestra is the most recent work recorded here. The solo sax sails across a sea of changing colours until it can go no further. The solo piano then enters, about half way through, and when it does the work changes into something a little more funky and suburban. It is unusual for me to start a work without guidelines or direction. I began with an idea and added new and continually changing material, hence the title Collage. The work is scored for an orchestra of solo wind, trumpet, horn, harp strings, and percussion, and this first airing needs more than one listening. Nocturne on an American Hymn Tune is a short blues piece based on the song, At The River, by Robert Lowry. It is published for alto sax & piano but here performed with added electric bass and a soft jazz kit. We recorded it late at night after the first day’s sessions – there was a strangely beautiful atmosphere in the dimly lighted church. Paul Carr.
Mark Andrew-James at the age of 16, Mark Andrew – James conducted his first public symphony concert. Already being a very competent oboist, he went on to further his formal music training at Trinity College, London, from where he received numerous prizes and awards.
After leaving College, Mark gained places on Master Classes with two of the world’s most famous and dynamic maestros, Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta, and it is from the influence of these two icons of conducting that he shapes the way he prepares for any concert, from interpretation, technique, and not forgetting platform presence. Having moved to Brighton in 1989 Mark realised that there was no orchestra in the area which was truly representative of the community, and knowing that the talent existed, without going elsewhere,’ set about forming the Sussex Symphony, and it gave its first performance to a capacity audience in January 1993.
Mark Andrew – James has been invited to the Russian Federation on numerous occasions, and after one performance of the Rachmaninov Symphony No.2 in Krasnoyarsk, a professor from the University there insisted that Mark must have Russian ancestry!
Mark has been invited back whenever he wishes to the Federation, and he will also be visiting New Zealand, Australia and the Far East, responding to invitations from the exciting orchestras, some quite new, in those regions.
Mark is contacted by many of the country’s choirs and orchestras to conduct, and as his mentor Sir Charles Mackerras said of him… ‘Many of the world’s orchestras will benefit from his expertise and enthusiasm’.
Mark Andrew – James is fully committed to the Sussex Symphony, and is set to lead’d into the Millennium with gusto, ensuring that the upward trend of excellence is not only maintained, but increased upon.
Nicholas Carpenter started his musical education as a chorister at St.Paul’s Cathedral and gave his first solo performance on the clarinet at the age of ten. After winning the first National Chamber Music Competition for Schools with a performance of the Mozart Quintet he spent four years at the Royal College of Music where he studied with Thea King and John McCaw.
On leaving college he was invited to appear as guest principal with The Bournemouth Sinfonietta, and six months later was asked to take up that position permanently, a post he held for the next ten years. During these years with the orchestra he performed many times as both Director and Soloist, and frequently broadcast on Radio 3. Nicholas has appeared as guest principal with most major orchestras in this country, and more recently was asked to join the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1992 he made his first solo disc – a recording of British Music for Clarinet & Piano, and this past year saw the release on EMI of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with the Brindisi String Quartet – a performance which has been widely praised, including two best performance recommendations in the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. Nicholas Carpenter plays: Leblanc clarinets
Andrew Sutton trained at U.C.N.W., Bangor, specialising in performance and conducting and studied clarinet with John Fuest of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He returned to Sussex in 1982 and the diversity of his styles and technique has meant he has been in demand as a solo, ensemble, and orchestral player on both clarinet and saxophone, as teacher and conductor. Andrew has conducted the Mid Sussex Choir for the past eleven years, and more recently the Brighton Chamber Orchestra with which he has conducted several premieres of works by Paul Carr. As a soloist with this orchestra Andrew has played the concertos of Mozart, Mendelssohn and the Concerto for Two Saxophones by Paul Carr of which he also gave the premier with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra. He is an experienced conductor of stage shows ranging from Die Fledermaus to Chess, and has been music director for the Arial Company Theatre with whom he has performed Little Shop of Horrors, Slice of Saturday Night, and Snoopy. He also, plays in the Ronnie Smith Showband.
Andrew Franks having completed a degree in Visual & Performing Arts at Brighton University, Andrew decided to make Brighton his home where his life has been a wonderful combination of teaching music and playing clarinet, and saxophone, in many different orchestras and bands, in both concerts and stage shows. He is principal clarinet with the Brighton Chamber Orchestra and has frequently played with the Sussex Symphony, both in the orchestra and as soloist. He has also written music for productions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and As You Like It performed as part of the Brighton Festival. He is co-leader of Carousel, a combined arts organisation working to ensure that the arts are accessible to all people who have learning difficulties.
His first introduction to Paul was on the answer machine :
“Hello, you don’t know me, my name is Paul Carr and I’ve written you a concerto This was the beginning of a diverse and very creative friendship, which has led to the composition and performance of many works especially written for Andrew, mostly, as it has turned out, for saxophone.
“Paul has immense vitality, enthusiasm, and creativity. His music reflects his warmth, and love of life, and speaks to both performer and listener. I am deeply honoured to know him and to play his music ”
Huw Jones started plying bassoon while a pupil at Watford School of Music where his teacher was Don Reid, a member of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. He furthered his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where his teachers included Martin Gatt from the London Symphony Orchestra and John Orford from the London Sinfonietta. He also trained in percussion and now divides his time between playing on the Concert Platform as well as in pit bands for stage shows, including nine years of pantomime where he has come into contact with such “stars” as Britt Eckland, Nookie Bear, Keith Harris and Orville the Duck! He has played in many British orchestras including the B.B.C. Concert Orchestra and the British Festival Brass Ensemble, and worked with conductors as diverse as Bernstein, Ashkenazy, Ivor Bolton and Oliver Knusson. He has also played for Glyndebourne Touring Opera, English Festival Opera, and D’Oyly Carte. He teaches bassoon, drum kit and percussion at Lancing and Eastbourne Colleges.
Yuri Paterson – Olenich was born in Brighton in 1974. He began to take piano lessons at the age of four with Christine Pembridge, and remained a pupil of hers for fourteen years. In 1991 he was awarded an entrance exhibition to the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with the late Alexander Kelly. In September 1996 Yuri took up a place to study with Prof. Vladimir Tropp, as a post – graduate at the Russian Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow, thanks to the Ian Fleming Trust, and the Sir James Caird Travelling Scholarship Trust. During this time in Russia he also received lessons from Tatiana Zelikmann, and took advantage of the many and varied opportunities to perform in the capital, and also in Armenia. Of particular interest was a series of concerts of the ten sonatas of Scriabin, given in different venues, including a performance in the composer’s Moscow apartment, now a museum. Yuri’s Russian concerts were very well received, most notably his performances of Scriabin, but also for the Sonata by Frank Bridge which he played in a series of concerts sponsored by the Frank Bridge Trust.
The Sussex Symphony Orchestra was founded in January 1993 by its present principal conductor, Mark
Andrew – James. Such was the interest in this new venture, at the first concert 150 people had to be turned away from the concert hall.
Spurred on by obvious need for such an organisation, the SSO has gone on to perform up to 14 concerts per year. Drawing forces from only the local region, the orchestra is a true representation of the talent that exists in the area, without the need to ‘import’ players, and so gives the orchestra a very real identity with the community, where it has become a ‘seed bed’ of talent. The SSO provides not only a platform for local professionals, but also those people of professional standards, but who have chosen other walks of life, which indeed range from heart registrar to housewife! The SSO is very fortunate in having many younger players in its ranks, of people who are preparing to go to full time music education, and also those already attending courses at the leading music conservatories in London.
The activities of the SSO now extend over the whole year, and are not restricted to any given season. In the summer months the orchestra can be seen in Sussex parks, playing to audiences of over 10,000 in popular picnic ‘Prom’ style events.
Having received a National Lottery Grant, the orchestra was able to purchase vital percussion equipment and a vehicle which is also available to like organisations in the area, providing top rank equipment, hitherto not available. The orchestra is poised to begin a series of educational visits to local schools covering all ages, where workshop, ‘hands on’ and individual sessions will be given as part of the orchestra’s commitment to the community. There are also schemes to take music into care homes and special schools, so that the joy of live music can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. The Sussex Symphony has certainly taken the scene by storm, and strives to be an example to many as to what can be achieved, using local talent, determination, dedication and not a mean amount of cunning! We in the Sussex Symphony sincerely hope that you enjoy this CD of Paul Carr’s music, it is a privilege to know him, and a consummate pleasure to have the opportunity to perform and record his orchestral work.
Sussex Symphony Orchestra
1st violins: Sarah Plummer (leader) Liz Gifford, Graham Smith, Cathy Stevens, Oonagh Barry, Fran Fegan
2nd violins: Julian Counsell, Eileen Cook, Richard Bramwell, Phillipa Bull, Janna Simms, Nigel Collins
Violas: Peter Vohralik, Catty Nimmo – Smith, Jean Bently, Liz Davis
Cellos: Peter Copley, Anna Copley, Fiona Childs, Lydia French
Double Basses: Lisa Fegan, Sarah Chapman
Flutes: Alison Letschka, Joseph Laurent
Oboes: Adrian Roach, Fran Guy
Clarinets: Andrew Sutton, Emma Alien
Bassoons: Sarah Martin, Kate Fairhurst, Alison Holman
Horns: Duncan Fuller, Dominie Nunns
Trumpets: Sara Scriven, Neal Bland, Andrew Wooler
Tuba: Nigel Simmons
Percussion: Jonathan Chappell
Harp: Jenny Broome
Review: I – Music Web International
It came as a surprise to me when I discovered that this hugely enjoyable CD of music by Paul Carr had been reviewed for MusicWeb International by Rob Barnett way back in October 2001. I honestly thought I was getting first crack at a brand-new disc. I have reviewed a few CDs of Paul Carr’s music: somehow the original release of this one must have passed beyond my ken. But late is much better than never: it has been a rewarding experience to explore these six charming, interesting, and thoroughly entertaining works.
There are two levels of music on this CD. Firstly, what I have called ‘Suburban Sunday’ music. I coined this phrase after playing through a suite of piano pieces by Philip Lane called Leisure Lanes which included a piece of that title. On the other side of the coin, there is a more neo-classically inclined style to Carr’s music, not quite Poulenc, but certainly ‘cool’ and musically competent.
The first of the two-major works on this CD is the Concerto for Clarinet and Small Orchestra which was composed in 1997 and dedicated to the present soloist, Andrew Franks. Paul Carr writes that it is one of his own personal favourites. The small orchestra is literally a chamber ensemble, comprising wind quintet, trumpet, harp and only seven strings. Written in a typically ‘suburban stroll’ style of music this piece has echoes of Gerald Finzi and Eric Coates (Barnett 2001). The opening movement fairly bowls along, with only a few moments of repose. The restrained cadenza leads gently into a thoughtful coda. The middle movement is both sad and reflective whilst not lacking optimism. This is the gorgeous heart of the work, and features a pretty tune, which dominates the proceedings. The finale has a touch of the toccata about it. Nevertheless, there are some relaxed sub-jazzy moments, and contrasting episodes which are quite delicious. Altogether a most satisfying concerto, splendidly played.
I relished the Occasional Postcards for wind quintet and strings which was composed in 1993. It is written for wind quintet and strings. The liner notes tell that this work has become one of Carr’s most frequently performed works: at least it was in 2001. The concept of the work is five short ‘postcards’ depicting ‘memorable occasions’ in the composer’s life. These include: ‘Through Crowded Streets’, referring to Brighton on a busy Saturday morning; ‘Bicycles in the Summer Rain’, reflecting a day spent in Kensington Gardens; back to Brighton for the self-explanatory romp of ‘The Boys on the Beach’, ‘Summer Evening’ recalling an evening in an orangery on L’Île Saint Louis in Paris and finally ‘Tuscan Diary’ which recollects a ‘seductive frisson’, the ‘brightness of Florence and the warm passion of Italy. Delightful.
My favourite work in this CD is the moody, groovy, Concerto for Two Saxophones and Orchestra dating from 1994. I have no doubt that this work would be a strong crowd pleaser at any concert that was not hidebound by excessively highbrow expectations. The work was written expressly for the present soloists Andrew Franks and Andrew Sutton. Carr has suggested a listening strategy for this work: ‘I like to think of it as a dialogue between the two solo instruments as a love affair…’ It is a good way of approaching this tempting three-movement work. Especially appealing, is the lovely second movement, ‘andante cantabile.’
I guess that I was a wee bit disappointed with Girl on a Beach under a Sunshade, a miniature for bassoon and orchestra. This piece was inspired by an evocative sketch made by Sir Alfred Munnings of the composer’s great aunt, Gwenneth Jones-Parry, lying on a Cornish beach sometime in 1916. A reproduction of this sketch is provided in the liner notes. This piece is not as impressionistic or languorous as I would have imagined (or liked). In fact, there are some acerbic chords that owe more to the history of the times, rather than an idyll of a beach. Despite this, it is beautifully written and allows the bassoonist full range of his talent. The main theme is beguiling. It should be in the repertoire of all bassoonists.
Collage – concerto in one movement for saxophone, piano and chamber orchestra, is a pleasant ramble for the soloist. This fifteen-minute work is conceived in two discrete sections. The first half is dominated by the saxophone, before the piano takes over at the halfway point. Paul Carr writes that ‘the solo sax sails across a sea of changing colours’: this is probably some of the most classically (modernist) contemporary music on this disc, but not unapproachably so. The second section is ‘more funky and suburban’ in its style. The work was apparently through-composed: beginning with a single idea, then adding a new one with the material continually changing rather than evolving. Hence the title ‘Collages.’ The composer relates that he rarely composes music without a formal plan. The present work really stream-of-consciousness; and none the worse for that.
Rob Barnett has described Nocturne on an American Hymn Tune as ‘chill-out’ music. I agree. There is nothing religious or po-faced about this music. It features drum kit, electric bass, piano (played by the composer) and saxophone. It is a perfect conclusion to this CD. My only complaint about this Nocturne is that it is way too short!
This CD is nicely presented. The liner notes are written by Paul Carr, with additional material about the soloists and the Sussex Symphony Orchestra and their conductor, Mark Andrew-James. I appreciated the ‘moody’ cover by Paula Cox, featuring musicians in the ‘groove.’ I consider that all these pieces were well-played, with exceptional performances by the soloists. John France
Previous review by Rob Barnett:
Review: II – Rob Barnett – MWI
In the days before BBC Radio 3 decided that novelty was the answer to its organisational self-doubts programmes such as ‘Matinee Musicale’ were the home for light music. That outlet has now all but shrivelled to nothing and in its place the CD has become an expressive outlet. Paul Carr writes music that is without pretence, fluent and fluid, singing, concise and joyous. The Clarinet Concerto leads us through a limpidly flowing landscape part Finzi, part Nyman (soul partner to the John Harle inspired Where the Bee Dances– a glorious piece to which I was introduced by Evelyn Glennie’s BBCTV series), part Coates. The Occasional Postcards are soloistic sketches catchy and reflective – listen to the slinky sax of Andrew Sutton in Summer Eveningwith its half hints of Sibelius 2 and the bassoon invocation from Rite of Spring. Summer heat drapes heavily over the Concerto for two saxophones and time drawls easily by providing a centre of gravity for the latina rumba-bump, bounce and crunch of the vivace and vivo. Girl on a Beach under a Sunshade (a miniature for bassoon and orchestra) was inspired by a Sir Alfred Munnings sketch of Carr’s great aunt, Gwenneth Jones-Parry on a Cornish beach in 1916. It is not languid enough to have quite the sensuality suggested in the liner note but it remains a rhapsodic charmer. The Collage Concerto is in a single meandering movement and despite the glances across entrancing vistas is the least satisfying of the six works here. It is also where the orchestra’s string section is revealed in its least flattering light. A plusher tone would have helped. The Nocturne was recorded at night at the end of the first day’s sessions. It provides a chill-out winding down and logically concluding the disc. Paul Carr is in select company. His music could coexist very happily alongside that of his similarly inclined colleagues: Lionel Sainsbury (listen out for his Violin Concerto at next year’s Three Choirs), William Blezard, Michael Hurd, Thomas Pitfield, Will Todd, Christopher Gunning, John Jeffreys, Ian Venables, Callum Kenmuir, Francis Pott and the still far too little known Matthew Curtis.This makes for easier listening but is far from facile. I recommend this disc of soloistically inclined music. The solo artists must have been a joy to work with if the results are anything to go by. The Clarinet Concerto and the Postcards stand out in this company. Do not miss this disc if you are well disposed to a dreamy and lightly jazzy British ambience. Rob Barnett
Review: III – Amazon (Reviewed in the United States on October 30, 2018)
I’ve only recently discovered Paul Carr on one of those British Light Music CDs from Dutton Vocalion and I was entranced by his piece on that album so I immediately bought some other CDs of his music, including this one. Like the piece I fell in love with on the light music album, these pieces are simply ear candy of the highest order – delightfully melodic (ooh, imagine that!) and lovely. The clarinet concerto is great, but all the pieces herein are little gems. I hope to hear more Paul Carr soon. And for those lazy reviewers and listeners who never take chances, get in the damn car and get some Carr.