However, it was the short but attractive piece by Robert Farnon that recently caught my eye, so to speak. Mr. Punch was the first of a group of three pieces called Three More Impressions written in 1959. The other two were The First Waltz and the Dominion Day March.
The work opens with a cheeky flourish that soon leads into the main tune. This is repeated, before a brassy variation leads to a fine pizzicato central section that is complemented by the celesta. The opening theme returns in a slightly more a more romantic mood, which is certainly no commentary on Mr. Punch’s relationship with his wife! Then it is all downhill to the coda, complete with suggestive little counter melodies and a final flourish which suggests Mr. Punch sticking out his tongue at the audience.
Even a cursory hearing reveals a subtle and incisive orchestration that makes good use of the percussion in a quiet way and balances strong brass writing with the effective pizzicato string passages. It is really a little gem.
I do not know if this particular Mr. Punch is very wicked – the general mood of the music would perhaps suggests he was an enfant méchant rather than anything more delinquent. The music certainly has no suggestion of his propensity to beat his wife or murder his child!
Three More Impressions can be heard on Dutton Vocalion The Queen’s Hall light Orchestra Volume 4 CDLK 4274