Reviews

GLCD 5144 -The Golden Age of Light Music: Childhood Memories – Volume 2

Various

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Memory Lane Autumn 08

Childhood Memories – Volume 2 (Guild GLCD 5144) Scenic Grandeur (Guild GLCD 5145) Two more excellent CDs of light music have been released by Guild. David Ades and his team must have spent many hours scouring the archives to come up with so many unusual pieces related to younger listeners. Some well known orchestra Leaders such as Dolf Van Der Linden, Sidney Torch and Eric Robinson are featured along with George Grohrock­Ferrari and Hans May who are Leser known (at least to me). Popgun Patrol, Dance of the Marionettes, Jack-In-The­Box and Hunt The Slippen are amongst the song titles.

The title Scenic Grandeur rather says it all for GLCD 5145 although quite a bit of the `grandeur’ seems to take place at sea! The Tall Ships, Seascapes and Atlantic Crossing are among the maritime titles with Whispering Pines and Forest Fantasy being among the orchestral pieces that welcome us back to dry Land. Surprisingly, Frank Sinatra appears among the conductors along with more familiar baton wavers as Robert Farnon and Charles Williams. Quality, as always, first class!
GH


MusicWeb International Wednesday August 13 2008

Guild’s by now extensive series has restored many fascinating and enjoyable recordings to circulation, and its attraction to those with a special interest in the genre is obvious. For them, no doubt, the mere announcement of the issue of each new CD in the series is sufficient incentive to order them. There is much to be said for this approach, but there must be others who take pleasure in light music of this period without wanting more than a handful of examples on their shelves. I can give them immediate reassurance – this is a prime candidate to be part of that handful. The items are varied and well chosen, including a number of relatively rare pieces. The theme of childhood can be interpreted in many different ways, so that although there are certainly several typical “light, bright” pieces they do not over-dominate as has been the case on some other occasions.

Roger Quilter’s Children’s Overture is well known but it is by no means alone in using a series of nursery rhymes as the basis for a longer work. Robert Docker’s “Ourselves when young” and Fred Hartley’s “Scherzetto for Children” each adopt a similar plan in markedly different styles. Both are pleasing but the latter is of especial interest and ingenuity. The notes apologise for the sound quality in this item as it had to be taken from optical film track, but I had no trouble in quickly adjusting to it and thoroughly enjoying it. It is also a good reminder of the quality of Hartley’s arrangements which could easily form the basis for another CD in this series, perhaps mixed with the ITMA arrangements by Clive Richardson.

Other highlights include stylish arrangements of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic and the Doll Dance, and Gilbert Vinter’s delightful Dance of the Marionettes, but the more I listened the more I enjoyed almost everything on the disc. Perhaps the short Suite by Josef Engelman lacks individuality – indeed the last movement (“Ali Baba”) is much too reminiscent of “In a Persian Market” for its own good – and Peter Yorke’s “Whipper-Snapper” does outstay its welcome after the first few seconds. Apart from these, however, I found this a well compiled collection with a high proportion of unfamiliar but worthwhile items. The transfers are well up to the usual high standards of this series, and, as always, the notes by David Ades are very interesting but maddeningly deal with only a minority of the composers represented here. Presumably there is information about the rest in other notes in the series but that it of little consolation to the purchaser who has only this disc.

Each time I have listened to this disc I have increased admiration for the musicality, ingenuity and professionalism of those working in the field of light music in the first part of the last century. Guild deserve considerable success with this and the other discs in this series which bring their work back into circulation.
John Sheppard


Klassik.com Sunday August 10 2008

Im Booklet von ‚Childhood Memories: Volume 1’ war zu lesen: ‚Die sorgenfreie Kinderzeit bietet seit Jahrhunderten Schriftstellern und Komponisten Inspiration, oft, indem sie glückliche Erinnerungen weckt, die weit weg scheinen von den Realitäten des Alltagslebens. Manchmal braucht jeder von uns eine Pause von der Wirklichkeit, eine Flucht in einer Welt, wo es keine Probleme gibt. Wir hoffen, dass die Musik dieser Kompilation genau solch eine willkommene Flucht ermöglicht.’

Offensichtlich war die Nachfrage nach kurzen Light Classic-Stücken, die man in den 1950er Jahren in England im BBC-Radio und Fernsehen in Kinder- bzw. Jugendprogrammen hören konnte, groß. Denn die Firma Guild Light Music bringt nun schon ‚Volume 2’ heraus: 27 wunderbar unkomplizierte, melodisch eingängige, charmante Orchesterstücke von meist drei bis vier Minuten Dauer, die zeigen, dass die Briten einen ideologisch unkomplizierteren Umgang mit Unterhaltung haben als Deutsche und weniger Probleme mit ‚Leichter Klassik’, die – wie man hier hört – gar nicht billig sein muss. Vielmehr macht sie Spaß und ist (in allen Fällen!) brillant orchestriert und schwungvoll dirigiert von Männern wie Robert Farnon, Barnabas von Geczy, Dolf van der Linden oder Hans May, aufgenommen zwischen 1931 (‚A Fairy Ballet’) und 1957 (‚Pinocchio March’).

Dass sich hinter dieser so sorgenfreien Musik teils dramatische Exilschicksale verbergen, etwa im Fall von Barnabas von Geczy, merkt man keiner der Kompositionen/Aufnahmen an. Sie versetzen den Hören in eine Gute-Laune-Stimmung, der eine Prise Melancholie und Nostalgie beigemischt ist. Und unwiderstehliche Mischung, für mich zumindest. (Und ich habe in den Fünfziger Jahren noch nicht gelebt, um diese BBC-Sendungen gesehen zu haben. Trotzdem…)

Es ist schade, dass in Deutschland – als Erbe des Nationalsozialismus und seiner Vergewaltigung gerade der Unterhaltungsmusik – das Leichte Klassik-Repertoire nicht auf vergleichbar vorbildliche Weise gepflegt wird, wie es die Briten mit diesem 2. Teil von ‚Childhood Memories’ tun. Eine vorbildliche Edition, mit äußerst informativen Ausführungen im Booklet zu jeder Einzelnummer, ihrem Dirigenten und Komponisten. Mein persönlicher Favorit ist die knallige ‚Popgun Patrol’ von Frank Perkins – oder doch lieber der sprudelnde ‚Dance of the Pirate’ (mit genialem Einsatz der Harfe und der Blechbläser unter rauschenden, vielfach geteilten Streichern)? Aber Achtung: Für eingefleischte E-Musikverfechter mit unumstößlichem intellektuellen Anspruch an die hehre Kunst ist diese CD nicht geeignet!
Dr. Kevin Clarke