GLCD 5140 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Musical Kaleidoscope – Volume 2
MUSICWEB WEDNESDAY MARCH 26 2008
As usual with this fascinating series, this is a very well filled disc, full of varied and in many cases rare recordings of short, some very short, pieces of light music. The devotee of the period or the genre will be buying each volume of the series as they come out, and for them the present disc may well fill a number of intriguing holes in their collections. Those with a less consuming interest may well want to select individual discs that have some special appeal. My own personal favorites so far have included GLCD 5108 (British Cinema and Theatre Orchestras) and GLCD 5141 (Globetrotting) but others will no doubt produce different lists.
All of this is by way of preface to saying that although there were a few enjoyable and memorable pieces here, I found all too many merely ordinary. I usually enjoy the short pieces from the 1940s and 1950s which form a large part of the contents of this series, but here the pieces that stood out in a positive sense were the two items by Bantock and the three by MacDowell, all from earlier periods. Otherwise whilst there is certainly much variety here there is little likely to attract anyone not already hooked by the genre. Perhaps the problem is that this is a disc intended for items that do not fit into any of the categories chosen for earlier discs. It is notable that the best parts are the two short sections with a series of linked pieces – “Short and sweet”, which includes the Park Lane Serenade and Cigarette Girl, and “Drama, menace and excitement”, including The Four Horsemen” and “Follow that car”.
One continued curiosity of the series is the apparent assumption that purchasers are acquiring the whole series, so that whilst there are detailed notes about composers and orchestras who have not featured before, there is no mention at all of the items where they have done. This is frustrating for those wanting only a selection of discs, and I would imagine that even those with the whole series might well find it useful to have some form of cross-reference to where more detailed information can be found. Indeed, having now issued over 40 discs, it is perhaps time to produce some form of index to help the collector find particular pieces and orchestras.
I am sorry to be so luke-warm about this disc as this is generally a valuable and enjoyable series whose issues I look forward to. Perhaps you will enjoy it more than me – the restoration and remastering are done as skilfully as ever and certainly the contents are never less than characteristic of the craftsmanship and professionalism of the composers and arrangers of their time