GLCD 5166 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Highly Strung


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Journal into Melody – March 2010

This latest Guild offering begins in cracking style with Jack Mason’s Pops Polka – can’t say I’ve ever heard of him but I’m certainly familiar with the players – the Boston `Pops’ (I prefer `Promenade’) Orchestra with their long time conductor Arthur Fiedler. In the notes David reckons his association with the orchestra began in 1930, but I have a 12″ HMV 78 of Strike Up The Band which I thought was recorded in 1929, but I could be wrong. Steve Race keeps the rhythm going with one of those pieces that seem so familiar but the title unknown. Here it is – Ring Ding, played by the Knightsbridge Strings. George French wrote the CD’s title tune Highly Strung for the KPM Library and it’s played here by the Group Forty Orchestra conducted by Eric Cook. It dates from 1959 when the Musicians’ Union ban was briefly Lifted, allowing production music libraries to record once again with British musicians for a while. It’s a great piece and I hope compiler David looks kindly on the idea of issuing another French composition – from the Paxton Library this time – his Parade Of The Champions played by Dolf van der Linden and his Orchestra. Eric Jupp and his Orchestra continue this lively concert with what sounds like a Spanish rhythmic number. But the inspiration comes from just over the border in Portugal, and Song Of Lisbon was a minor hit for Carlos Rocha – whoever he might be. Then a Synchro Library item Paris Pullman by Roger Roger and played by The Paris Studio Orchestra conducted by Philippe Pares, who also contributed library music. Philip Green’s theme from the film “Sapphire” played by the Pinewood Studio Orchestra, conducted by the composer, featuring Johnny Dankworth’s saxophone is next. On the other side of the Top Rank 45 from which this track was taken is Laurie Johnson’s theme to the film “Tiger Bay”, and another Rank 1959 45 I have is the music by Tony Crombie for the TV series “Man From Interpol” conducted by the composer. It also appears in the first edition of the Ember Mood Music Library catalogue. The three pieces on the disc are Man From Interpol, Interpol Cha Cha and Interpol Chase. They’re a bit jazzy but might find favour with film and TV music buffs – are you listening, David? Two
rather gorgeous pieces played by the orchestras of Boris Sarbek and Ronald Binge respectively – Lee Soar (I’d Love To Fall Asleep) and Afraid To Dream (nice juxtaposition of titles) – are followed by Fred Hartley and his Music (a light orchestral name from the past) with his own catchy composition Jack In The Box from the Chappell Library. Gay Spirits by David Rose and played by his own orchestra on MGM could easily have come from a recorded music library catalogue, as does Kurt Schick’s Sheerline (Charles Brull) and Bob Farnon’s Little Miss Molly (Chappell) – two very contrasting items. Morton Gould’s orchestra has fun with Zez Confrey’s Stumbling with what sounds like a bar room piano and xylophone joining in – great stuff! Monty Kelly and his Orchestra spring a surprise part way through Life In New York with a wordless chorus, while Gerard Calvi’s catchy piece Gigue Ecossaise (Scottish Jig) really sets the feet a’tapping. I believe the Harmonic / Charles Brull Library went out of business some years ago (Editor: they were acquired by KPM in the mid-1990s) which seems hard to believe when they could issue such smashing recordings as Frank Chacksfield’s Sunshine Beguine played by the Symphonia Orchestra conducted by Curt Anderson, resplendent in Alan Bunting’s treatment. Ron Goodwin’s orchestra zips along nicely with his own composition Al( Strung Up, and I’m sure there are echoes of the “Miss Marple” films’ theme in there somewhere! Geoff Love’s orchestra gives a splendid performance of Rudolf Friml’s Ma Belle but it only emphasises the dearth of such light orchestras and programmes from the airwaves today. The string section of Percy Faith’s orchestra really work overtime with his composition Perpetual Notion as we head towards the end of this “strung up” collection of great light music. Irving Berlin’s A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody is the penultimate track played by Peter Yorke and his Concert Orchestra. And finally a piece from the soundtrack from “Some Like It Hot” – Park Avenue Fantasy scored by Adolph Deutsch conducting the Studio Orchestra. A fine way to end another great Guild Light Music compilation!
Ken Wilkins

Memory Lane Summer 2010

The Tatest three discs from Guild in their Golden Age of Light Music series are as follows: A Trip To The Library – GLCD 5164
Orchestral Gems In Stereo – GLCD 5165
Highly Strung – GLCD 5166
The `Library’ in the title of the first album listed is, of course, the music library. Mood or background music became increasingly important from the 1930s onwards as music publishers, with Chappell’s to the fore, sought to cope with the demand from documentary, film and TV producers. Top composers, musical directors and musicians were recruited and this selection illustrates what a fine body of work they created. For me, the `prize’ amongst this selection goes to the full-length version of The Girl From Corsica but all 28 tracks have something delightful to offer: Fans of the Archers, the radio `soap’, will I am sure be delighted to hear the original of its popular signature tune. `Orchestral Gems in Stereo’ delivers exactly what it says. Some exciting sounds have been superbly captured by Alan Bunting and there is also the pleasure of a rare appearance in the Guild series of Victor Silvester and His Silver Strings who shares the stage with such veterans as Percy Faith and David Rose. Some lively pieces are on offer in `Highly Strung’ but melody is never far away. A generous helping of 29 tracks complete with comprehensive liner notes and gorgeous sound should please all Guild fans and maybe find some new ones.

MusicWeb International Monday May 5 2010

Another great selection from Guild, full of the most delicious things. George French’s title piece, Highly Strung, is a wild scherzo in the manner of David Rose’s Holiday for Strings, with lots of swirling string movement and great support from the brass and winds. Jack Mason’s Pops Polka is a typical Boston rush and Steve Race’s Ring Ding has a touch of Latin about it. Very nice.

I am a big fan of Roger Roger, and it’s good to have his racy Paris Pullman here, perhaps not exactly highly strung but it does have a great string tune. David Rose’s compositions really do grow on you, and Gay Spirits is a delightful concoction which has some splendid pizzicato writing, not to mention a lovely violin solo. Bob Farnon’s Little Miss Molly has a Ravelian fairytale quality about it. It’s a delightful miniature with a prominent part for flute. Lovely. Zez Confrey, sans both kitten and keys, but armed with a xylophone delivers a good tune, with great orchestration – especially in the middle section for piano with a guitar or banjo in the background! Alex North is a much underrated composer and I welcome this excerpt from his music for The Wonderful Country – Americana at its very best. Charles Williams’s Toy Violin is a perfect pizzicato study. Fred Hartley’s Jack In The Box is a lovely piece of chamber music swing – of the kind sometimes offered by Alec Wilder.

Song of Lisbon is the kind of music you’d hear in a Mexican-set western of yesteryear, “we go to de cantina and drink wiz dee greengos”, and the cool sax of the late Johnny Dankworth graces Philip Green’s theme from Sapphire – a fine composition. Gaste’s Le Soir is a sleepy cor anglais and strings duet which is followed by a sterling Ronald Binge arrangement of Harry Warren’s (known, quite rightly, as ‘Mr Hollywood Musical’) Afraid To Dream, a beautiful song very well served by its arranger. The illustrious Clive Richardson, under a pseudonym, gives us a lovely string melody with the additional of a trumpet with felt mute. This is a lovely relaxed desert island thing.

OK, so I’ve gone to my favourites first, but can you blame me? If I didn’t it would be impossible to know where to start. For the rest there are pleasures aplenty. Schick’s Sheerline is made of the finest denier. Cry Of The Wild Goose is a bongo-driven flight, a fabulous Philip Green arrangement here. Cesana’s Whirlwind is a depiction of the wind, with romantic music in the middle, how strange this is; perhaps he had a film scene in mind. It was Cole Porter who introduced the world to the beguine and here Frank Chacksfield offers a rather lovely one, with a haunting theme, not to be forgotten in a hurry. Debussy wrote a Marche écossaise and to match it, another Frenchman crosses Hadrian’s Wall and gives us a Gigue Ecossaise, which is great fun. Ron Goodwin’s All Strung Up has the feel of the coffee bar to it, but no Teds are in evidence. Perpetual Notion, a nice title, is reminiscent of Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On The Town.

For the rest, the most important is probably Adolph Deutsch’s underscore from Some Like It Hot, a real slice of Hollywood, but with a most unsatisfactory, inconclusive ending. But that’s the trouble with underscore. It comes and suddenly it’s gone!

Guild has done it again, compiling a fascinating collection of pieces in excellent sound, and with helpful, but not exhaustive, notes. I have a list of pieces I’d love them to do and my mouth waters at what delights they will come up with next. As ever, I am all anticipation. This is an invaluable series.
Bob Briggs