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A Different View: The Music Of David Jephcott

Jephcott / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic / Rundell
Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 6140  
Composer:  David Jephcott
Performer:  David Morris
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Certainly worthy of consideration by anyone attracted to pretty, timeless music that is lightweight, but not banal.

According to the liner-notes, David Jephcott "began composing music as an antidote to the stresses of his commercial and academic life in the 1990s. He is entirely self-taught as both pianist and composer and uses modern music technology to produce beautiful melodies." As is clear from the track-listing above, the orchestral arrangements are delegated to others - "a hand-picked team of skilled arrangers" - which gives the subtitle of this release, 'The Music of David Jephcott', a slightly different bias: it is Jephcott's music, but through collaboration.

Six of the nine
Read more works are between three and three-and-a-half minutes in length, with a seventh only a minute longer. Together these pieces constitute, in the nicest sense, a kind of musical bric-a-brac, mellifluous miniatures all capably orchestrated, albeit formulaically and mainly for strings, and some with more flair than others. The three arrangements by Jim Clements are the weakest; the worst of them, The Prairie Whistler, features a solo for David Morris, who is an English professional whistler and former International Grand Champion whistler! Morris has published three CDs on his own label (David Morris Music), the latest entitled 'Classical Whistling'. He certainly is a fine whistler, but the piece tries hardest to be film music and comes across as considerably more contrived than the others.

It is the two programmatic longer works that stand out on this CD, at least in part on account of their imaginative orchestration. What the original scoring of any of these works was, incidentally, is only rarely mentioned in the notes. Plain Sailing is a "seascape [which] depicts the exhilaration and the perils of being on the high seas", and includes allusions to well-known sea shanties. Needless to say, the music imagines tall ships and the sailing is anything but plain - it is not too long before a storm is brewing and Jephcott's music for once turns dissonant, if not exactly ferocious. It is not exactly the Voyages of Sinbad - or even the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia! - but the work has its atmospheric moments, and the ending is creative.

The four-movement Egyptian Suite "depicts the serendipitous discovery of a Pharaoh's tomb by a small group of desert nomads." The sections are entitled 'The discovery of the tomb', 'Greed', 'The spirits awaken', and lastly 'Retribution' - in which the covetous nomads are entombed alive with their booty! All of which might give the impression that this is a work of relentless drama and turmoil, yet Jephcott cannot help but smile through his music, giving a family-friendly, Disney-filtered version of dark and bad.

The booklet, sporting a photo of Ludlow Castle on the cover, gives a layman's description of each work and good biographical notes all round - of Jephcott, Rundell, Morris and the arrangers. The sound quality is fairly good, but it is worth pointing out that this is not a Nimbus recording as such: despite the obvious fact that Nimbus is clearly involved at a high level, Nimbus Alliance is really a different label. To quote the company that deals with its PR: "Nimbus Alliance is a new classical record label created to offer international distribution to recordings licensed to Nimbus Records but not originated by the company. Nimbus Alliance will consider projects from new artists trying to find a home for recordings they have made privately" - which presumably is the case for this disc.

In sum, this is not really a CD to interest the collector of art music as such, but, whilst hardly compelling, is certainly worthy of consideration by anyone attracted to pretty, timeless music that is lightweight, but not banal.

- Byzantion, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
The Egyptian Suite by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Ian Stephens 
2.
Plain Sailing by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Louis Johnson and James Wishart 
3.
Adagio for strings by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Jim Clements 
4.
The Blue Nile by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Jim Clements 
5.
The Prairie Whistler by David Jephcott
Performer:  David Morris (Whistler)
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Jim Clements 
6.
The Ludlow Air by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Paul Whittall 
7.
The Phantoms' Waltz by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Paul Whittall 
8.
Glencoe by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Piers Tattersall 
9.
The Refugees' Lament by David Jephcott
Conductor:  Clark Rundell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
Notes: arr. Gavin Higgins 

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