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Philip Henderson: From The Old World To The New World


You could almost class this is a pop album — there’s an osmotic connection between ambient pop and classical music and this excellent CD is most definitely the pop side in places.

Henderson wrote the music for shows such as The Far Pavilions and this awareness of what the masses wants infuses this easy-on-the-ear classical album. Purists may well mutter that that its easy sound and straightforward timing are no match for Bach’s love of algorithm and mathematical patterns, which may be correct, but Henderson’s music is enjoyable and easy to listen to. If it draws some new listeners to classical music it can only be a good thing.

The album is based on the true story of his father’s journey in the 1930s from rural Kent to New York. The music follows the story, from pastoral strings (The Hop-picker’s Daughter and The Vine-puller’s Boy) to the bustle of an Atlantic cargo vessel (Tilbury Docks and Galley Boy) and the buzz of Broadway (New York Sing Me!, featuring Bollywood actress and producer Pia Sukanya). At this stage, our hero, represented by a cor anglais, plays against the synthesised strings of the city.

Given Henderson’s background, it’s unsurprisingly an evocative album and he creates mental images of the places the music goes. Fans of gentle classical music and theatre music will love it, but we’d suggest that fans of electronic music (The xx, Hauschka) and the likes of Mike Oldfield would find much to like. The Green and Pleasant Band and Pia Sukanya perform. Out on Divine Art, dda 25141, and most excellent.

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