I rather like Philip Lane’s evocative London Salute. It is quite short and sweet, yet manages to portray London in its many moods. It was written by the composer to mark the sixtieth anniversary (1982) of the forming of the BBC.
Any music describing London is often destined to fall into some incarnation of the British ‘ceremonial style’ typical of Walton, Bliss or even Elgar. Yet Lane avoids this particular trap. If anything this music owes more to Eric Coates’s Knightsbridge March – at least in mood if not substance. Of course there are nods to the pomp and circumstance and things of state but the main mood is one of ‘hustle and bustle’. Certainly the opening bars suggest to me the curtains going up at a West-End Theatre. Surely the following ‘march’ is more evocative of traffic in Oxford Street or Piccadilly rather than the Trooping of the Colour? Maybe it is descriptive of a shopping trip to Dickens and Jones rather than a Royal Wedding. The only drop-off from this music is that there is no repose: at least Elgar in his Cockaigne Overture alluded to lovers in Hyde Park walking hand in hand on a hot summer’s day. Yet the balance of this piece is good: great orchestration along with an infectious swing provide interest and movement.
The work is available on Marco Polo 8.225185