Recorded 5 & 6 January 2012 in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England
CD No: SOMM SOMMCD 0125 Duration: 76 minutes Reviewed: March 2013
Song of Paradise – Piano music by Reginald King played by Mark Bebbington [Somm]
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
There is little to say about this release except that it is wonderfully delightful. Reginald King (1904-1991), London-born, a fine pianist, and although he could play Bach at the Queen’s Hall and composed early works such as a Piano Concerto and a Violin Sonata, King gravitated to the lighter side of musical life as orchestra founder/leader and a regular broadcaster (for over four decades), gracing restaurants and spas and making many gramophone records.
The pieces here, 23 in number, are all elegantly crafted, eminently tuneful, and ooze lovely sentiments. The slower numbers, the majority, charm, and the fewer faster ones have enjoyable rhythms and lilts. Some of the titles say it all: Autumn Leaves, Moonlight Reverie, Snowflakes, Beside the Lake, Summer Breezes ... well, you get the picture, and these miniatures are certainly picturesque and also nicely developed beyond the attractive ideas; these are more than ‘novelty numbers’.
Not only is the music delightfully inventive and perfectly formed, but Mark Bebbington plays it with much affection – indeed, it seems to be a labour of love. His playing is generous and dynamic, subtle and glorious, and what’s more he has been beautifully recorded. If King is an unknown quantity, his music speaks eloquently on his behalf, and the booklet has two excellent notes, by Robert Matthew-Walker and Allan W. Hughes that bring the life and times of Reginald King to our attention and maybe wishing for these days of yore when life was less hectic and noisy; that’s the world that King suggests and which Bebbington plays with such sensitivity.