02 Jun

Dateline: October 2006

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SUPERB NEW ROBERT FARNON CD FROM JOHN WILSON AND THE BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA

A new CD of Robert Farnon compositions was recorded at The Colosseum (formerly known as Watford Town Hall) on 1 & 2 June 2006. The highlight is the premiere recording of Robert Farnon's Second Symphony which is a magnificent work, and it is difficult to understand why the composer declined attempts to get it performed and recorded during his lifetime.

Robert Farnon admirers are in for a real treat when this CD is released on Michael Dutton’s Epoch label this autumn. Precise details were not available as we went to press, but it is likely that this CD will reach the shops during September or October at the latest.

Originally it had been intended that the CD would contain all three of Farnon's symphonies, but it emerged that they last too long to fit on to one disc.

When the first symphony was examined in detail it was discovered that many of the themes were later used by the composer in other compositions. However the scherzo can be enjoyed as a 'stand alone' work, so this has been included.

The decision was taken not to record Symphony No. 3 on this occasion; this was premiered by Iain Sutherland in Edinburgh on 14 May 2005 and he has expressed the wish to record it himself.

Several other Farnon compositions will complete the CD, some of them receiving their first commercial recordings in stereo.

Particularly welcome will be the suite "Captain Horatio Hornblower" which Farnon based on his score for the 1951 Warner Bros film starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo. This has not been available in Britain for some years, and Wilson's version is suitably stirring in the exciting action sequences, and deliciously romantic in the majestic "Lady Barbara Theme" which surely remains among the finest love themes ever composed for the cinema.

The pictures opposite were taken during breaks in the sessions. At the top we see the Leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra, Cynthia Fleming with conductor John Wilson. The lower picture features the team in the control room: John Wilson, Michael Ponder, Neil Varley (BBC Radio-3), Michael Dutton and Dillon Gallagher. Over the page the BBC Concert Orchestra is being rehearsed by John Wilson.

It took four three-hour sessions to complete the CD, following some rehearsals the previous day when the microphones were set up in readiness.

Thursday 1 June : 10.30 – 1.30
Symphony No. 2 – first and second movements

Thursday 1 June : 2.30 – 5.30
Symphony No. 2 – completion of second movement and third movement
Symphony No. 1 – third movement (scherzo)
The Frontiersmen – full concert version

Friday 2 June : 10.30 – 1.30
Captain Horatio Hornblower – suite based on the film score

Friday 2 June : 2.30 – 5.30
Playtime
Goodwood Galop
Seventh Heaven
Alcan Highway
In a Calm
High Street
Manhattan Playboy

From the above details it will be observed that several works are receiving their first commercial releases in stereo.

The Colosseum at Watford is the present home of the BBC Concert Orchestra, and a close working relationship has been established with Michael Dutton, whose recording company is also based in Watford.

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.