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Anthony Phillips

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Anthony Phillips Anthony Phillips & Harry Williamson: Tarka album cover
3.51 | 63 ratings | 11 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Movement One - The First Year (11:24):
- Owlery Holt
- Weare Water
- Golden Pool
- Moon Play
- Corncrake Meadow
- Root Walk
2. Movement Two - River And Estuary (15:43):
- Moonfield
- Waymoor
- The Estuary
- Salmon Hunting
- Moonfield
- The Burrows
- Bag Leap
3. Movement Three - The Hunt (15:23):
- The Foreboding
- Dark Hams Wood
- Pool Of The Six Herons
- Escape To The Estuary
- Beam Weir
- Deadlock
- The Kelp Pool
- Island Run
- Ebb Tide
4. Postlude - The Anthem (6:04)

Total time 48:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Anthony Phillips / acoustic guitar, keyboards, composer, arrangements & orchestration (1,3,4)
- Harry Williamson / acoustic guitar, keyboards, composer, arrangements & orchestration (1,2)

- Andrew Anscombe / French horn
- Lindsay Cooper / bassoon
- Nick Cox / clarinet, bass clarinet
- Anne Glover / oboe
- Ian Hardwick / oboe
- Didier Malherbe / flute, piccolo flute, soprano sax
- Julie Allis / harp
- Ann Morfee / violin
- Krysia Osostowicz / violin
- Janet Crouch / cello
- The National Philharmonic Orchestra
- Jeremy Gilbert / orchestra conductor
- Simon Heyworth / arrangements & orchestration (4), producer
- Dave Sawyer / percussion
- Guy Evans / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Mainartery London

LP PRT ‎- PYL 18 (1988, UK)

CD PRT ‎- PYC 18 (1988, UK)
CD Blueprint ‎- BP219CD (1996, UK) Re-edited and features additional music; new cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy ANTHONY PHILLIPS Anthony Phillips & Harry Williamson: Tarka Music

ANTHONY PHILLIPS Anthony Phillips & Harry Williamson: Tarka ratings distribution

(63 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ANTHONY PHILLIPS Anthony Phillips & Harry Williamson: Tarka reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars File under easy listening

"Tarka" is based on the book "Tarka the otter" by Henry Williamson. The music was apparently originally written as the soundtrack to the film based on the book, but was never used. Thus, it took about 11 years from the album's conception, to its eventual release.

The album is actually credited to Anthony Phillips and Harry Williamson (the son of the author of the book) as a joint project, rather than just to Phillips alone. In truth however, their contribution is largely swamped by the lush orchestration, which transforms the whole album into a quasi-classical piece. The classical connection is accentuated by the fact the album consists of four long pieces, or movements.

It sounds to me as if the basic tracks have been laid down first, mainly on acoustic guitar, then orchestrated later. This may in reality not be the case(!), but the balance leans heavily towards the orchestra. The playing of Phillips and Williams is therefore further back in the mix than might be expected.

The music is pleasant if generally under-whelming, with lots of appropriate running water "plinking" on the keyboards and guitar. It is the sort of music that is nice to put on in the background. For those hoping to hear traces of Phillips brief time with Genesis, only the familiar acoustic guitar style gives even a hint of this.

Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This has to be one of the most gorgeous instrumental albums of all time. Obviously based on the book by Henry Williamson, this is a collaboration between Anthony Phillips and Henry's son, Harry. It's mainly orchestral apart from acoustic guitars and some keyboards and it captures the mood of the book and the film perfectly (although it wasn't actually used in the film). It's hard to believe that music as good as this remained in the vaults for ten years until rescued thanks to Susan George. It's very relaxing music, the sort you can put on in the background and chill out to, although this is not to say it is background "lift music" - it also bears up to concentrated listening. Just listen to the short "Postlude" track, remember the end of the book and feel those goosebumps!
Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Slowly coming, as a river stream from source, through creek size waterline to big river. Same with Tarka. I must confess that I haven't seen the movie, nor read the book. Even this music wasn't used, it is connected with it, inspired by it.

So here I go nature, beware of my mighty footprints. Not big business, this is not wilderness, this is carefuly directed countryside. It's so fragile, or maybe the right word is tender. Strings, soft keyboards, no voice. Flute, piano, these instruments are npt so often used (solely these) in prog rock music. Anthony Phillips is interesting person. I wonder where Genesis could be now with him. Nevermind, this music is easy to listen, but hard to review and decide what it deserves. It seems more like ambient music to me, something pleasant, but not too proggy. Maybe I just lack voice or something more "rockingly".

3(+) stars.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I was rather positive about the prior album from dear old Anthony. His seventh private parts were quite nice to listen to and I really had a great feeling while listening to "Ice Flight". This album is of another texture and sounds much more classical.

The first movement of this work is truly gorgeous and impressive. This is a superb combo of delicate acoustic guitar, harmony and symphony at the same time. There is a definite "Trespass" feel during most of this piece which is my fave one from the whole album.

The second movement is almost as catchy. Some great violin parts are featured, symphonic moments are present; these features are combined with an overall pleasant orchestral feel. My interest in the music performed throughout this release is unfortunately going downwards with the third movement: this is due to the overall classical feel which is quite frankly too much for my ears. This work has started rather positively but I was quite disappointed after a while.

The shortest and closing part ("Anthem") from this offering is the most pleasant one in terms of my perception. It is elegant, discreet and beautiful. It is a fine way to say goodbye but the whole of this "Tarka" couldn't really move me. Classical and prog music have never been my cup of tea. And never will. Still, this effort is not bad at all and I will upgrade it from average to three stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars An orphan film score

Tarka is a large scale instrumental work consisting of three longer "movements" followed by a shorter "postlude", and is Anthony Phillips's most orchestral work. I think it is roughly comparable in style to the orchestral version of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Strictly speaking this is not an Anthony Phillips album, but rather a collaborative work by Phillips and Harry Williamson. The music was inspired by the novel "Tarka The Otter" by Henry Williamson (which I believe is Harry's father).

Originally the music featured here was composed as a soundtrack for a film based on the book. But, as it turned out, the final version of the film (which were finished in 1979) did not include any of this music. Wikipedia states that: "In 1976 Anthony Phillips, formerly a guitarist with Genesis, and Harry Williamson recorded a soundtrack to the film of Tarka the Otter with the support of David Cobham, the producer. Harry had helped to persuade his father to sign the contract, reassuring him that with the music he had composed, the film would be true to the book. When the film rushes were shown, however, it became apparent that there had never been any intention to use this orchestral work in the film." So, apparently the two musicians (as well as the author of the novel) were fooled by the makers of the film.

From the information above it should be clear that this music is a lot older than the release date of the album suggests. It wasn't until the late 80's, however, that this work was completed and finally released in 1988. I find this album a pleasant listen, but isn't anything more than that. Perhaps it would have been excellent as film music, but without the accompanying images this is not strong enough to stand on its own as a work of music.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Teamed with Harry Williamson, is a mixed bag of various instruments, mainly classical to provide a score to a film that is rich in the sound, peaceful in ambiance and prefers substance to the way music is played. Do not expect any complex progressive rock instrumentation, nor classical guitar be ... (read more)

Report this review (#2242879) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, August 10, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A realm of beauty. Fifty minutes of joy. Fantastic in any respect. Besides that, the album is a unique example of a crossover genre which must be considered innovative. The history of concerto for an instrument and orchestra started more than two centuries ago. Concerti for piano, violin, viola, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1057385) | Posted by proghaven | Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I totally agree with reviewer "chopper". This is indeed one of the most gorgeous instrumental albums of all time! If you played this record in the "classical" section of a music store, none of the bespectacled elites who were browsing through the bins, would be able to guess that Tarka was wri ... (read more)

Report this review (#83738) | Posted by Mcgraster | Friday, July 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is PHILLIPS' most "classical" album to date. In fact, it is a classical score to film (?) that never came out. But it is a goodie! No question that Phillips is not a classical composer. However, in his attempt to compose semi-classical music, he comes up with something altogether wonderfu ... (read more)

Report this review (#54454) | Posted by | Wednesday, November 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An album that was years in the making, or rather, years before it saw the light of day - it was certainly worth the wait. Anthony collaborates here with Harry Williamson (Williamson co-wrote, played guitars and keyboards) whose father authored the book about Tarka the otter. I'm not familiar w ... (read more)

Report this review (#25981) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the most lavish and orchestrated of Ant's works, Tarka is one of his few most enjoyable albums, not some much highlighting his guitar playing as is often the case, but more so his sense of composition and arrangement of a larger ensemble of instruments, and to excellent effect. This would be ... (read more)

Report this review (#25979) | Posted by Gonghobbit | Tuesday, January 27, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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