GLCD 5165 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Orchestral Gems in Stereo
Journal into Melody March 2010
When I saw the title “Orchestral gems In Stereo” I didn’t exactly jump for joy – stereo doesn’t interest me one iota! Who cares which speaker the strings and brass are coming from? Anoraks – that’s who! There’s nothing wrong with a good mono recording and music you like played by a first class orchestra. Okay – rant over! But stereo or not, it is a first class orchestra that opens this Guild CD with Tolchard Evans’ Lady Of Spain arranged by Carmen Dragon, who conducts the Capitol Symphony Orchestra. It meanders a bit in the middle but, on the whole, a spirited performance. Paul Weston and his Orchestra follows on track 2 with Jerome Kern’s She Didn’t Say Yes’ from “The Cat and the Fiddle” – arranged by Weston. The show ran in London in 1932 for 219 performances. A track that caught my eye was Les Baxter’s Shooting Star, recorded in 1958 with the composer’s orchestra. Would it be anything like Sidney Torch’s piece of the same name – no, not a bit. I know which I prefer. Our Love Affair, a very nice piece from “An Affair To Remember”, a 1957 Cinemascope release, gets a lush treatment from Conrad Salinger with an orchestra conducted by Buddy Bregman – but it is Bob Farnon’s Mr. Punch played by Leslie Jones and his Orchestra of London which gets the feet a’tapping! I’ve had the EP since its release in 1959. Peter Yorke and his Concert Orchestra provide a rather dreamy rendition of Ivor Novello’s Glamorous Night from the 1935 show of the same name. It ran for 243 performances at the Drury Lane Theatre. Another tune to set the feet a’tapping once again is Cole Porter’s After You on track 11 with an infectious performance by Victor Silvester’s Silver Strings. Quite a difference from his usual ballroom strict¬tempo style. But it’s the David Rose Orchestra that really sets the disc alight with his own composition Majorca – a sparkling piece! And in similar lively mood is Ernesto Lecuona’s Damisela Encantadora (quite a mouthful!) played by Percy Faith and his Orchestra, who also arranged it. Billy Mayerl’s ever popular Marigold gets an orchestral treatment for a change, courtesy of Ronald Binge’s arrangement with him conducting his own orchestra. And lastly I was pleased to hearthe 101 Strings in an effervescent form with Chabrier’s Espana – a fiery finale!
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 Wednesday May 2010
There are three different types of light music on offer on this CD; original compositions, arrangements of other pieces and arrangements of songs. As the first four tracks are of the latter variety, let’s start with them.
Carmen Dragon gives a technicolour arrangement, as you’d expect from him, of Tolchard Evans’s great Lady Of Spain, and Paul Weston’s subtle arrangement of Jerome Kern’s She Didn’t Say Yes proves a good foil. A gentle waltz version of a gentle song from that most exuberant of musicals Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; Just A Kiss Apart is a lovely song we should hear more of. Charles Trenet’s La Mer is here given a restrained performance which highlights many of the instruments of the orchestra – it’s almost a Guide to the Light Orchestra – but I do miss Trenet’s voice singing the tune! Our Love Affair (from the Cary Grant film An Affair To Remember) is one of Harry Warren’s most heart warming creations and this version, by Conrad Salinger, brings out all the warmth and love in the piece. Peter Yorke’s arrangement of Ivor Novello’s Glamorous Night is certainly enchanting, as is Victor Sylvester’s version of Cole Porter’s After You, perhaps not for dancing but certainly a delight for listening. When Your Lover Has Gone can boast a couple of dozen recordings, its success being guaranteed by its inclusion in the Jimmy Cagney film Blonde Crazy. A beautiful tune in a gorgeous arrangement and performance.
I’ll Follow My Secret Heart is the hit song from Noel Coward’s play Conversation Piece and Philip Green’s arrangement is a study in understatement. It is said that Ernesto Lecuona’s compositions influenced the Latin American world in a similar way to Gershwin in the USA, raising Cuban music to classical music status. Damisela Encantadora is a waltz of some energy!
Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera), or, to give it its’ alternative title, Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be), was featured in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much, where it was sung by Doris Day – and it subsequently became her signature tune. It won an Oscar for its writers, and who could have expected it to appear in a version for mandolin and orchestra?
I cannot over emphasise the silliness of Cecelia in this lovely arrangement by Dennis Farnon (younger brother of the more famous Robert), while La Vita E Un Paradiso Di Bugie is another love affair. The Theme From A Summer Place seems to me to be beloved of muzak compilers so it’s good to hear it properly here.
Les Baxter’s Shooting Star is a real piece of mood music, with a simple tune repeated several times in various orchestrations. Lovely. Somehow I’ve managed to miss Robert Farnon’s Mr Punch and it is my loss for here is a clever scherzo movement which cannot rest, but quite what it has to do with Mr Punch is beyond me. Leslie Jones and his Orchestra of London show us that this is the way to do it. Chelsea is the second movement (of 6) from Fats Waller’s London Suite which Waller himself recorded in London in 1939. Angela Morley’s arrangement captures the feeling of a lazy Sunday afternoon, in the summer. Misirlou is a popular Greek song which here appears as a tango, amongst other things. Lots of drums give the music its impetus, while woodwind sound an Eastern note.
Le Premier Rendezvous is a fun piece with wire brushes on the drums, muted trumpets and cool flutes. David Rose’s Majorca is an extended tone poem in popular idiom, with lots of Latin flavour. It’s a more popular version (if that is possible) of Chabrier’s España! Nelson Riddle’s Sea Of Dreams has a Summer of ’42 feel about it, perhaps unrequited love is behind the inspiration of this gorgeous miniature. Hal Mooney’s dream is of a different kind, for Dreamland USA is obviously in praise of the American way of life and Mom’s apple pie. Closer to home, Billy Mayerl’s famous Marigold sounds well, in this delicious version by Ronald Binge, as a duet for flutes. Henry Mancini’s Mostly For Lovers is cocktail lounge stuff, with tinkling solo piano and discreet accompaniment.
The disk ends with a version of Chabrier’s riot of Spanish colour España which nods in Chabrier’s direction and adds some rather good things which Chabrier obviously forgot! A terrific ending to a most enjoyable disk. As usual, the transfers are very good, the notes helpful but not exhaustive and the disk well filled.