GLCD 5141 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Globetrotting
Memory Lane Summer 2008
The Golden Age of Light Music – Globetrotting: Guild GLCD 5141 As the title suggests Guild serve up a musical tour of the world although, understandably, the northern hemisphere is favoured with the majority of the titles. One of Joe Loss’s rare excursions into the light music
catalogue is featured with Majorca, and Reg Owen who wrote some inventive pieces for Ted Heath and his Music relaxes here with Flamenco Love. Most of the tracks are new to me but two that are well known, Cuban Love Song and Mexican Hat Dance, are superbly played by Monty Kelly and Morton Gould respectively. The high spot for me, however, was Music for the Nostalgic Traveller in Italy by the dream team of William Hill-Bowen and George Melachrino. They provide nine minutes of unadulterated pleasure. As always from Guild the production quality is excellent.
Review by John Sheppard
After all the many and various themes selected for previous issues in The Golden Age of Light Music series, this disc follows the tried and trusted theme of music linked to countries or parts of the world. Given the rich store of pieces with suitable titles, most making use of a variety of pastiche melodies and rhythms as well as piquant instrumental effects this was almost bound to be a success. So indeed it is. Some of the works will be familiar, including Gilbert Vinter’s “Portuguese Party” in a lively performance by the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra and Morton Gould’s arrangement of the “Mexican Hat Dance”, but others will be much less familiar. Almost every item manages to establish its character quickly and effectively, and many have the kind of catchy or memorable melody which marks out a winner in light music of this type.
Only two tracks disappointed me. The essence of playing the music of Ketèlbey convincingly is to make the most of the opportunities for local character and colour. The performance here of “In the Mystic Land of Egypt” is pleasant and professional but tastefully avoids going over the top in its effects. As many of the various recordings of this composer’s music reissued by Naxos show, the opposite approach yields greater dividends. Much better to revel in all the special effects suggested by the composer – possibly even adding a few extra. – and in the frankly corny tunes,
The other disappointment was less of a surprise. I have no objection in principle to raiding other composer’s music to produce new works. Composers as varied as Stravinsky, Foss and Schoenberg have all shown this. “Song of Norway” however merely takes some of Grieg’s best works and coarsens them without adding anything of interest. I found this item all but unbearable, but fortunately it is followed by Quilter’s English Dances, all too rarely played but very welcome, especially in this context.
I have taken too long describing the two tracks that disappoint. All of the rest is to a greater or lesser extent worth hearing, and much of it much more than that if you have a taste for this kind of music. This is certainly one of the best in a valuable series, and will surely lead to second volume visiting the musical styles of a variety of countries with similar abandon.