The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores

CD Review:

James Hughes

James Hughes Plays James Moody
Original Compositions and Arrangements for Harmonica and Piano

James Hughes, harmonica
Jon Brassington, harmonica
Dane Preece, piano


Rondo Rococo
Duo Baroque
Ballet Imaginaire
Two Irish Tunes
Six Irish Melodies
Eight Irish Songs
Echoes of Ireland

total time: 56:30
Released in 1996

label: Grosvenor (CDGRS 1291)
16 Grosvenor Road
Birmingham B20 3NP
United Kingdom

Review by Henry Doktorski:

James Moody (1907-1995) composed a wealth of music for the classical harmonica, including twenty-two works for harmonica and piano, three works for harmonica and strings, eight works for harmonica and orchestra and some two dozen other works for instrumental combinations such as harmonica and harp, harmonica and string quartet, and harmonica ensemble. Born in Belfast, Moody was a gifted pianist who at the tender age of thirteen was earning a good living playing in cinemas for silent films.

In 1938 Moody joined the BBC Belfast as a piano soloist, accompanist and arranger. He moved to England where during the next forty years he became a household name on British radio due to such long-running musical programs as "Accent on Rhythm" and "As You Were." As accompanist and music director for many variety shows, he came into contact with the famous harmonica soloist Tommy Reilly. This association inspired him to arrange and compose for the harmonica.

James Hughes is internationally recognized as one of the world's leading harmonicists. He has played a major role in bringing acceptance of the harmonica as a serious music instrument and his ability and success as a teacher have earned him great respect. He has taught harmonica studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the Barbican, London and at the Music Conservatory in Beer Sheva, Israel.

Listening to this album may be a surprise for classical music aficionados who are not familiar with the classical harmonica. James Moody's works range are real chamber music. On this recording we hear six duets for harmonica and piano, one duet for two harmonicas, and one trio for two harmonicas and piano. Some are serious such as the slow haunting first movement of "Duo Baroque" and some are light-hearted such as "Two Irish Tunes."

James Hughes performs with stunning virtuosity and delicate sensitivity on the Hohner three octave chromatic harmonica. He is accompanied by pianist Dane Preece who presently is a piano tutor and vocal coach at the Birmingham Conservatoire since 1988.

I recommend this CD for all lovers of the classical free-reed instruments and I look forward to hearing more recordings by James Hughes.

About The Free-Reed Review
Invitation to Contributors / Submission Guidelines

Back to The Free-Reed Review Contents Page

Back to The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Home Page