An effective blend of spoken word and music
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording arose as a collaboration between "Poems on the Underground" and the Apollo Chamber Orchestra, and was originally released in England, where I heard it. "Poems on the Underground" is an organization that has spent the last ten years arranging for poetry (from Anon through Shakespeare to Soyinka and Wilde) to be placed on the trains of the London Underground. The recording includes several musical settings of poetry, and some instrumental music.The first item is a clarinet concerto by Jim Parker. The opening sets a mood of sustained lyricism punctuated by elements of jazz and blues, and a certain Gershwin feel. It concludes with a wild, jazzy riff. Ian Herbert's clarinet is alternatively luscious and joyous.This is then followed by two sets of music, again by Mr. Parker, which accompany poems. One is to Betjeman's London poems, and the other is to poetry of Oscar Wilde, including the Ballad of Reading Gaol. The Betjeman piece has certain parallels in style with Walton's "Facade", although the poetry is much more accessible than Sitwell's, and the music is gentler. The Wilde work has a darker side to it, with a melancholy saxaphone and violins, and suggestions of the 1930's and English Folk songs.The recording concludes with two settings by David Chernaik, conductor of the Apollo Chamber Orchestra, of music by Gershwin and Bud Powell. An unusual feature is a formal reading of the text of "A Foggy Day", which gives Ira some of the recognition that he deserves."