GLCD 5162 – The Golden Age of Light Music: The Hall Of Fame – Vol. 3
MusicWeb International Wednesday March 24 2010
This is a real winner, from first track – a very breezy instrumental version of Freed and Brown’s famous 1929 song, which gave the title to the 1952 film – to last – a rather studied performance of Richard Addinsell’s wonderful Warsaw Concerto, which is perhaps more Melachrino than Addinsell, but who cares? In between comes a wealth of riches.
Lingering Lovers is a nice bit of 1950s mood music, very jaunty and easy-going, a kind of common man version of The Boulevardier! I especially love the interjections from an accordion. However, Ecstasy has nothing to do with sex, it’s a tango in strict time and strangely asexual! How odd for this most overt of dances! Love And The World Loves With You is a real hoot for it steals a riff from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, and entwines it with the tune. Whoever made this arrangement is a genius, for his humour and his skill in making it work. And it is far too short!
Morton Gould’s arrangement of Duke Ellington’s Solitude is part Delius, part Starlight Strings and it’s a sumptuous smoochfest for all concerned. I love it! Nelson Riddle’s Easter Isle is the perfect work, being gentle and sheerly delightful. More sultry nights under the stars with Hugo Winterhalter’s La Muñeca Española, which is full of exotic percussion. The Merry Widow Waltz is given in a salon arrangement, and it lacks the swing which is essential to a waltz – this is one of the few miscalculations of this excellent series for this is the muzak version of Lehár’s famous tune and it has no place here for it is banal and lacks subtlety.
Robert Karscher’s When Day Is Done is delightful, a beautiful tune, underplayed and without any overt emotion troweled onto it. Sidney Torch’s Shooting Star and Wildman’s Crazy Violins are perfect examples of a certain kind of light music where the string section is featured. Wildman’s piece also contains a great solo for cowboy fiddle. The much missed Angela Morley gives us a swing version of The Kerry Dance and very refreshing it is. Wright and Forrest are best known as the creators of Kismet – indeed, they made so many shows from the music of other composers that I once read a description of them as musical grave-robbers! Bubble, Bubble, Bubble (Pink Champagne) is a lovely piece of pizzicato scherzo, but what it has to do with champagne is beyond me. It does, however, have a tune which really fizzes – perhaps that’s the connection. It’s followed by David Rose’s March Of The Pretzels, which certainly wouldn’t go down well with a glass of the vintage stuff but which is so hilarious as to make one laugh out loud.
The three best known pieces here – Charles Williams’s Devil’s Galop, Robert Farnon’s Jumping Bean and Ronald Binge’s Elizabethan Serenade – are all given authoritative performances. It is said that a true intellectual is one who can hear the galop from the William Tell Overture without thinking of The Lone Ranger. I wonder if the same could be said of someone who hears The Devil’s Galop and doesn’t think of Dick Barton, Special Agent? I can’t. Eric Coates’s Music Everywhere is one of his typical bright and breezy marches which brings the first part of the recital to a close.
The remaining five tracks pay tribute to George Melachrino. William Hill–Bowen is a much restrained soloist in Reginald King’s Theme from Runnymede Rhapsody, and it’s a very lovely pastorale. The quality of Robert Farnon’s My Song Of Spring is without question and this arrangement by Melachrino is perfect. Here is an urban, English, waltz! His own Winter Sunshine is a quick study with a golden central section. Aprite Le Finestre is a flirty piece of work and I wonder if anyone remembers that it was the Italian entry in the 1956 Eurovision Song Contest, where it was performed by Franca Raimondi?
All in all, yet another success for a series which I cannot praise too highly. The transfers are good, if at times a bit hard-pressed, I suppose that this is because the stereo sound on these early LPs wasn’t as good, and smooth, as it subsequently became. But this is a small point and if you turn the volume control down a little all is well. The notes, as usual, are helpful, and the presentation is excellent.