Reviews

GLCD 5148 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Great Light Orchestras Salute George Gershwin & Jerome Kern

Various

To the CD in our Shop


Memory Lane Spring 2009

Let me start off with a question and an implied criticism – why didn’t Guild give each of these composers a CD to themselves? Having got that off my chest let’s get down to listing some of the gems included. A favourite of mine is a lovely rendition of one of Kern’s Hollywood melodies, A Fine Romance by Johnny Douglas & His Orchestra. This is matched by the less well known (to me) orchestra of Frank Perkins playing Gershwin’s classic Embraceable You. Not surprisingly the latter’s Rhapsody In Blue is given an airing under the baton of the versatile Philip Green and Ray Martin makes the most of the superb tunes available from Kern’s score for the film Lovely To Look At. Rounding off this feast of entertainment is the distinctive sound of the Louis Levy Orchestra with a George Gershwin Suite. Great sound, great production, great CD.
GH

Sentinel Source Com – Online edition of the Keene Sentinel

Thursday, January 22, 2009 11:27 AM EST

Golden melodies from the past still charm us

Looking back to a time when songs had gorgeous melodies and often respectable lyrics, a grand new addition to Guild Light Music’s The Golden Age of Light Music series of CDs is “Great Light Orchestras Salute Gershwin & Kern.”
Drawn from a seemingly endless collection of LPs from the late ’40s and ’50s, the selections on this disc comprise 17 tracks of well and lesser known melodies from George Gershwin and Jerome Kern.
Among the Gershwin selections are “Strike Up The Band,” “Love Walked In,” “Embraceable You,” “Liza,” and even a short version of “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Kern is represented by “Look For The Silver Lining,” “A Fine Romance,” “Lovely To Look At,” “Long Ago And Far Away,” “The Way You Look Tonight” (my fa\vorite) and several others.
Among the orchestras heard are those conducted by Robert Farnon, David Rose, Percy Faith, Andre Kostelanetz and Gordon Jenkins. Enjoy.
FRANK BEHRENS


Klassikom Sunday November 02 2008

Kultiviertes Vergnügen

Der Name ‘Guild’ bürgt für sorgfältig-kompetente Neueditionen historischer Live-Mitschnitte und Plattenaufnahmen, dies in der weiten Spanne zwischen Broadway und hochromantischer Sinfonik. In der Reihe ‘Guild Light Music’ sind nun Gershwin- und Jerome Kern-Arrangements mit einigen der erfolgreichsten Unterhaltungsorchester der 40er und 50er Jahre erschienen: ‘Great Light Orchestras salute Gershwin and Kern’. Es handelt sich um nicht weniger als 17 verschiedene Einspielungen – mit ebenso vielen Ensembles, darunter Exoten wie dem Danish State Radio Entertainment Orchestra, vorwiegend aber ausgewiesenen Spezialisten des Musicals und der Broadwayshow. So sind die ‘Decca-Künstler’ Robert Farnon, Johnny Douglas und Frank Perkins vertreten (samt ihrer Orchester), Andre Kostelanetz, Percy Faith und Ray Martin (Columbia), schließlich George Melachrino (RCA) und Richard Jones mit den Pittsburgh Strings (Capitol).

Verallgemeinernde Aussagen zur musikalischen Leistung wären bei 17 verschiedenen Ensembles einigermaßen verwegen. Auffällig ist aber ein gleichsam kapellmeisterlicher Zug vieler Darstellungen: Extreme (in Tempo, Dynamik oder Artikulation) werden fast durchweg vermieden. Nicht wenige Phrasierungen kommen recht undramatisch und flach daher, beinahe geglättet. Alle Beteiligten scheinen sich einig zu sein, dass hysterischer Ausdruckswille, wie er heute im Pop gang und gäbe ist, in solcher Musik nichts zu suchen hat. Bevor sie in die Beine geht, muss diese Musik durch den Kopf. Auch ‘leichte’ Musik hat zuallererst mit Intelligenz zu tun – so scheinen Percy Faith und Konsorten zu unterstellen. Gershwin wie Kern hätten nicht widersprochen. Sie führen den Nachweis, dass Musik, wenn nicht schon ‘fröhlich’, so ‘heiter’ sein kann – mit handwerklicher Präzision und gründlich durchgearbeiteten Harmonien. (Jerome Kern, Sohn deutsch-jüdischer Einwanderer, hat u. a. in Heidelberg studiert.) ‘The Girl From Utah’, ‘Girl Crazy’, ‘Lady Be Good’, ‘The Goldwyn Follies’ (Gershwin) oder ‘Sweet Adeline’, ‘Swing Time’, ‘Sunny’, ‘Cover Girl’ (Kern) geben beredtes Zeugnis, dass kultivierte Unterhaltung möglich ist, damals wie heute und trotz der James Last und André Rieu dieser Welt.

Guild sorgt erwartungsgemäß für ein rauscharmes, plastisch durchgeformtes klangliches Relief. Das Booklet, angenehm unprätentiös, bietet detaillierte diskographische Information statt vollmundiger Phrasen. Kurzum: David Ades, Produzent seines Zeichens, hat diesen Musikern den Rahmen geschaffen, den sie verdienen. Freunde der leichten Muse werden auf diese Platte nicht verzichten mögen.
Dr. Daniel Krause


Music Web International Tuesday October 28th 2008

Another success in this fascinating series …

This series just goes from strength to strength! Recently I had the pleasurable task of writing about music arranged for what we call Military Band (Bandstand in the Park – Volume 2 GLCD5147 – see review) – the kind of thing we heard when we were kids but which no longer exist due to most bandstands in parks having fallen into disrepair. Most enjoyable that was too! Now Guild gives us a fabulous tribute to two of the greatest Broadway and Hollywood composers.

On hearing of the death of Gershwin, writer John O’Hara said, “George Gershwin is dead, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” The same comment could be applied to Jerome Kern and, thanks to recordings, their work lives on and they still live for us today and for future generations. As long as people love great melodies like these, the work of their composers, and thus the men themselves, will always live for us.

Starting with a very typical Kostelanetz arrangement of three of the very greatest Kern melodies – some lovely use of the trombone consort in They Didn’t Believe Me and a technicolour Long Ago And Far Away with a dreamy coda – we move into a marvellous Robert Farnon arrangement of Love Walked In, with a delicious solo for the cor anglais.

The (David Rose, I assume) arrangement of Why Was I Born starts as if we’re somewhere on 10th Avenue waiting for a slaughter, then the music relaxes and it’s a rich and full blown sound from the orchestra.

Johnny Douglas’s arrangement of A Fine Romance has the feel of the salon about it, very nice. The Shocking Miss Pilgrim is a film made in 1947 and used tunes Gershwin had left unused, and unfinished, at the time of his death. Kay Starr and others pieced the music together and the ever reliable Ira Gershwin put lyrics to the music. Percy Faith’s version of the lovely For You, For Me, For Evermore is, in general, quite retrained, with some lovely work for solo strings.

Frank Perkins gives Embraceable You a straight forward reading and Kostelanetz delivers a very daring Fascinating Rhythm, with pizzicato strings to the fore. The tempo isn’t fast but the rhythm still fascinates! Can’t Help Singing is a gorgeous waltz tune given lovely treatment by George Melachrino, understated and just right. The arrangement of Strike Up the Band is quite unusual in that it has no military references in it whatsoever! No drum tattoos, nothing. It concentrates entirely on the tune. No problems there for me.

As far as I can remember, the film Lovely To Look At overuses that great tune. Not here. This medley of the film’s songs treats them with great respect, each tune being given an orchestration which suits them down to the ground, and not one outstays its welcome and makes you want more. The proof of great work.

The Philadelphia Strings give a warm account of Liza and Gordon Jenkins’s arrangement of Long Ago And Far Away is quite heartbreaking. What a fine song this is! Then comes a truncated version of Rhapsody in Blue which, I suppose, was cut to six and an half minutes in order to fit on two sides of a 78rpm disc. Ronnie Selney plays well, and we get the “best bits” in this whistle–stop tour of Gershwin’s masterpiece; the opening, the ensuing fast section, the big tune and a brief coda. It’s very enjoyable!

Glenn Osser’s performance of Kern’s Can I Forget You is another string dominated arrangement, and Ron Goodwin’s arrangement of The Way You Look Tonight (Fred and Ginger again) is beautiful and delightful. Louis Levy’s Gershwin Medley, whilst rather long, is a very nice stroll through his greatest tunes in very enjoyable orchestrations.

I’ve kept mention of the very best for last. Kern’s Who and I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star appear in a whirlwind arrangement by the very great Angela Morley. This is typical Morley, very racy and virtuoso in its use of the orchestra.

Another success in this fascinating series.
Bob Briggs