New Water Music for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Composed By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Silva Screen Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Marking the 60th anniversary of Queen's ascension to the throne, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II was a much celebrated event.  The River Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant was held on June 3, 2012 and featured a flotilla of over 1000 boatsNew Water Music was performed for the Queen on a barge during the pageant.  Drawing on Handel's Water Music, New Water Music featured five minute movements composed by eleven contemporary British composers.  Silva Screen Records released a studio recording of the New Water Music for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in May 2012.

            New Water Music for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant is an eleven track album featuring the works of such notable composers as Anne Dudley (The Full Monty), Howard Goodall (Mr. Bean), Julian Nott (Wallace & Gromit), Jocelyn Pook (Eyes Wide Shut), Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare in Love) and more.  The music is performed by Ensemble H2O featuring strings, bass, woodwinds, saxophone, percussion, marimba and electronic keyboard. 

            Having never heard Handel's original Water Music, I found myself in a unique position - I would not have to worry about comparing the original version to that of the new version.  Thus, I could listen to the music on this album with an open mind.  And yet, there was a part of my mind that had already made up what music I would expect to be performed at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  It was that part of my mind that made me stare quizzically at the music coming from my player. 

            Not only was the music being played nothing like I expected to hear, I'm not quite sure I even liked a lot of it.  The music composed for the celebration was certainly unique, but, thanks to my presumptiveness, I had a hard time accepting it, particularly the track called London Bells which had a distinctive Middle Eastern flare.  Despite the knowledge that the composers were contemporary, I was expecting a more classical style to the music.  While I expected the brass that normally presents itself at royal events, the amount of brass used in this performance was actually a bit much...and the style had more of a Latin flare than a British one. 

            Perhaps the idea of this album was to show the cultural diversity of the people that now make up the United Kingdom.  If that is the case, the compositions found on this album more than live up to expectations.  But for me, this album doesn't really represent the royalty of the crown.  This music is supposed to have drawn upon Handel's Water Music.  Knowing Handel's classical style, I can only deduce that the only similarity between his Water Music and New Water Music is that they were both composed for a performance to take place on the Thames River.  While the music on the album is interesting, it's not something I would bother purchasing.


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