After graduating as an oboist at the Guildhall School of Music, Jim Parker played with leading orchestras and chamber groups before concentrating on composing and conducting. He had early success with a series of recordings in which he sympathetically set to music the poems of John Betjeman, spoken by the poet and conducted by himself. These and subsequent records led to work in theatre, film and television, for which he has written scores for hundreds of programmes such as House of Cards, Foyles War and Midsomer Murders, winning BAFTA award for best television music four times. Classical compositions include a Concerto for Clarinet, a one act opera for Channel Four Television, settings of poems by Oscar Wilde and chamber music for wind ensembles.
This very enjoyable album collects a number of Parker’s recent compositions which have a pictorial quality and display his remarkable talent for memorable melodies and colouration, whether it be the recorder acting like a Peruvian pipe, or violins emulating the Hurdy-Gurdy. Light music albums of this quality are rare these days and this is a joyful gem. The first three suites are scored for String Quartet (some with recorder, harp and bass); Hoofers (named for stage dancers) is a suite for oboe and piano of individual pieces: The Flying Scotsman, The Lonely Ballerina, Banjolele and Hoofers. The talented musicians are Richard Simpson (oboe), Janet Simpson (piano), John Turner (recorder), Anna Christensen (harp), Alex Jones (double bass) and the Solem Quartet.