80th Anniversary Concert, The Warehouse, London 19 May 2012
Carey Blyton would have been 80 this year and this concert brought together not only family and friends but many of his former pupils and composers in a celebration of his own music and the influence he had over younger writers. It is strange that a man known only to the wider world as the writer of Bananas in Pyjamas was such an eclectic figure, with settings ranging from the most profound – a deeply felt Dirge for St Patrick’s night – to the flippant.
The concert included an impressively wide range of Carey’s own song settings, including one to a poem he had written as a student, and some of his instrumental scores. Soprano Alison Smart took a little while to settle into the close acoustic of The Warehouse but was on splendid form for Prayers from the Ark. She also found great sympathy for six Warlock songs and a selection from E J Moeran’s Six Poems of Seumas O’Sullivan.
The evening was introduced by John Mitchell and his own setting of The Half-moon Westers Low, together with Frank Bayford’s delightful Songs for Children’s Dreams, were rightly included as tributes to Carey’s continuing influence.
Pianist Katharine Durran brought two examples of Carey’s piano works; Three Impressions, with their keen atmospheric encapsulation of landscape, and the more familiar jazz pieces Park Lane Stroll and A Ghost from the Past.
Carey was essentially a miniaturist, but the range and beauty of his creations were very evident here. It was announced that a Carey Blyton Society is to be formed and details of this will be available through his website www.careyblyton.co.uk
Recordings and writings are available from www.fandmusic.com