"Painting A Pastoral Symphony". Anthony Phillips' latest library album "English Pastoral". Review by Alan Hewitt.It has now been some time since Anthony first mentioned that he was working on a fuller scale orchestral disc for Atmosphere, the television library music company for whom he carries out a considerable amount of work these days. Why should the prospect of another library album get me so excited? Well, the very mention of the word "orchestral" connected to Anthony's music was what did it. It has been almost a decade since I last had the chance to hear an example of what Anthony could do when he has orchestral forces at his command and so I looked forward to hearing this one.
Eventually Anthony was kind enough to send me a copy of the disc and I have listened to it avidly on and off ever since I received it. There is a considerable body of music contained on it; some twenty eight tracks in all and most of them are as usual very short in keeping with their use on television. And the music? Well, despite Anthony's own assertion that he was "asked/ordered to do the pastiches" that does not detract from what is another shining example of exactly why Anthony is becoming such a sought after composer in this field of music.
Yes, there is no doubt that some of the pieces are derivative of other composers; Elgar and Vaughan Williams are the most obvious examples that spring to mind but of course, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and of course, if you MUST copy then why not from the best? There are several pieces that fans of Anthony's music will instantly recognise, pieces resurrected from both Tarka and Missing Links Volume One: Finger Painting but there is also a sufficiency of new material here to delight and astonish old and new fans alike and I am sure that many of these pieces will find their way on to a future edition of the Missing Links series or even in the more fully formed ones, inclusion on a future Private Parts and Pieces album is not beyond the realms of possibility - yet another delight to add to the Phillips collection.
Anthony Phillips: English Pastoral, ATMOS-CD117.