Hubert Clifford The Cowes Suite and other works

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Vocalion CDLX 7338 BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp.

The Cowes Suite (Cowes Roads, Buccaneer, Carnival & Fireworks, Royal Visitor); Dargo (A Mountain Rhapsody); Irish Comedy Overture; Pageant of Youth; Left of the Line; Victorian Polka; Hunted (1952 film suite); Voyage at Dusk (Fantasy).

Australian by birth but Irish by descent, the composer sailed for England and the Royal College of Music in 1930, and never looked back. After a brief sortie as a schoolmaster in Kent, he was appointed BBC Empire Director of Music at the same time as his friend, John Gough, was appointed BBC Pacific Director of Music, their joint efforts transmitted by short wave to Australasia and Oceania.

Both were pictured with Henry Wood in the ruins of the Queen’s Hall after it was destroyed by bombing in May 1941, but were airbrushed out before the picture was released worldwide, showing Sir Henry standing on his own!

Left of the Line was a wartime documentary about Canadian soldiers on D-Day whilst Hunted was a 1952 film thriller starring a young Dirk Bogarde. The Cowes Suite was commissioned by the BBC for the 1958 Festival of Light Music at the Royal Festival Hall, and at the time Clifford lived on the Isle of Wight near the famous yachtsman, Uffa Fox, to whom the second movement is dedicated. In the final movement, Royal Visitor, we are left to ponder which one!*

Dargo, a Mountain Rhapsody describes the beautiful area of Gippsland in Victoria, Australia, whilst An Irish Comedy Overture and A Pageant of Youth are rumbustious celebrations of the composer’s heritage and of youth generally. The delightful Victorian Polka may or may not be connected to Queen Victoria, the state of the same name in Australia, or possibly a film, but nobody knows for sure.

The disc ends with another atmospheric piece, Voyage at Dusk, doing exactly what it suggests as it meanders around a darkening sky.

This is another fine offering from Vocalion, especially as all but The Cowes Suite are world premieres. A terrific selection of fine music.


[*Probably not too difficult – no prizes for a correct guess! Ed.]
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