The Siren Song of Music

Carl Davis & Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Thursday 12th July 2012, 7.30pm


  • SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Montagues and Capulets from Romeo and Juliet
  • CARL DAVIS (b.1936) The Rainbow
  • LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Allegretto from Symphony No.7
  • CARL DAVIS Amazons, Sophy and Dr Harrison from Cranford Suite
  • JOAQUÍN RODRIGO (1901-1999), arr. Carl Davis Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez
  • PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Black Swan Pas de Deux from Swan Lake Finale from Swan Lake
  • JOHN LENNON (1940-1980) & PAUL McCARTNEY (b.1942) Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane
  • JAMES HORNER (b.1953) Titanic Suite
  • ALEXANDER FARIS (b.1921) / CARL DAVIS / PETER SALEM Upstairs Downstairs / Call the Midwife
  • MONTY NORMAN (b.1928) / DAVID ARNOLD (b.1962) James Bond Theme / Casino Royale
  • SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981) Adagio for Strings
  • VARIOUS Fantasy on Liverpool Themes world premiere

This was a first-class concert, with many stand-out moments. If the highlight was the rendition of David Arnold's Casino Royale then it was only after reaching even higher than the magnificent performance of Prokofiev with which the evening began. Conductor Davis was a tour de force in conducting his own works, demanding so much from the responsive players.

It was beguiling. Utterly beguiling. And I found myself once more wishing that things could somehow be what they seem.

In taking a stand on the Christian nature of music I have put myself outside the fold of these musicians. They just do. And it is very, very tempting to join in. What composer would not want to hear such brilliant musicians play her music? What performer would not think it the highest honour to play in such an orchestra? How, indeed, one is tempted to ask, could any other nature of music be better?

Listening to the lush melodious style of Davis' own music, it almost seems impossible to suppose that there is such a style as Emily Howard's "Calculus of the Nervous System" and that music itself is on a downward spiral into chaotic dissonance.

And so the sirens sang to Odysseus.

Beside my house is a river. Once it was like any other river, filled with beautiful clear water. And then one day a boat came down the river and carried with it a weed. And that weed grew. It grew so wildly that centuries later, the river is silted up, a fascinating marshland - safe to walk on in dry weather but treacherously boggy after only a shower of rain. And in between are small reservoirs and rivulets of water.

Music is not unlike this river. The weeds began to grow 300 years ago. There are still patches of water to be found. And if we focus on those patches, we can extrapolate and tell ourselves that all is well. But look beyond and you cannot help but see the reality, that the decay has taken hold and that the future will be a muddy quagmire where once was beauty.

We should not avoid the blue waters for the sake of the marsh around them. Concerts such as that produced by Carl Davis can be enjoyed and should not be neglected because of the mire of others. And yet we would be fools to think that water can overtake the weeds naturally. The weeds themselves must be destroyed before the water can spread once more. And that is beyond the power of one composer's skill and one orchestra's wonderful evening of entertainment.