Reviews

GLCD 5139 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Musical Kaleidoscope – Volume 1

Various

To the CD in our Shop


Klassikcom Saturday December 22 2007

Schätze aus dem Restearchiv
Interpretation
Klangqualität
Repertoirewert
Booklet
Vor etlichen Monden gab es beim damaligen Südfunk oder Süddeutschen Rundfunk (welcher Radiosender dafür verantwortlich zeichnete, ist dem Rezenten gerade nicht gewärtig), eine Sendung mit Namen ‚Musikalisches Kaleidoskop’, wo gespielt wurde, was nicht nur gefiel, sondern was, unabhängig ob nun eigentlich mehr U- oder eigentlich mehr E-Musik, Qualität hatte. Die universelle Einsetzbarkeit der an sich genialen Begrifflichkeit des musikalischen Kaleidoskops machte sich nun auch David Ades für die Reihe ‚The Golden Age of Light Music’ zunutze. In schöner Regelmäßigkeit stellt Ades thematisch subsumierte Kompilationen mit alten, teils uralten Schätzen der leichten Muse, zumeist englisch-amerikanischer Couleur, zusammen. Eine unschätzbare Großtat für eifrige Sammler. Doch immer wieder gibt es Musiknummern, die sich nicht einem bestimmten Thema zuordnen lassen wollen. Flugs reagierte Ades und kompilierte zwei Folgen solcher Schätze aus dem Restearchiv.

Folge eins wartet mit dem der CD den Titel gebenden ‚Kaleidoscope’ von Arthur Clemens Schreckenberger auf, aber auch mit Titeln wie ‚Double Cross’ aus der BBC TV-Serie, ‚Dance of the Spanish Onion’ von David Rose, ‚Policeman’s Holiday’ von Montague Ewing, ‚Sailor’s Holiday’ von Edgar Martell’ oder ‚Blue Devils’ von Charles Williams. Und wieder sind es die bekannten versierten Orchesterchefs wie Frank Cordell, Mantovani, George Melachrino, Reginald King, Walter Collins, Louis Voss oder Richard Crean, die ihre Ensembles zu perfekt leichthändiger Spitzenqualität animieren. Einen besonderen Platz unter den herausragenden editorischen Leistungen David Ades’ und seines Tonrestaurators Alan Bunting – und derer gibt es ohnehin nicht wenige – nimmt diese Kompilation nicht zuletzt durch die Aufnahmen von sieben berühmten Orchestern der BBC ein. Seinerzeit, in den 30er, 40er und 50er Jahren des vorigen Jahrhunderts war die BBC einer der weltgrößten Brotgeber für Musiker. Das ist auch heute noch so, wenngleich auch bei der BBC der Rotstift schon längst umgegangen ist und das eine oder andere Instrumentalensemble wegrationalisiert oder mit anderen zusammengelegt wurde.

Hier geben sich folgende BBC-Orchester, in der damals existierenden Formation und Namensgebung, ein Stelldichein: die London Studio Players unter Michael Krein, das BBC Northern Orchestra unter der Leitung von Charles Groves, das BBC Theatre Orchestra mit Harold Lowe, das BBC Scottish Orchestra mit Guy Warrack am Pult, das BBC Revue Orchestra unter der Leitung von Charles Groves, das BBC Midland Light Orchestra mit Gilbert Vinter als Dirigent sowie das BBC Variety Orchestra, dessen Stabführung in den Händen von Charles Shadwell lag. Diese Aufnahmen der 40er und 50er Jahre offenbaren samt und sonders ganz wunderbare Arrangements und Kompositionen. Die zauberhafte ‚Open Windows-Suite’ von Geoffrey Henman oder Vinters Arrangements traditioneller englischer Lieder für ‚Music of the People – England’. Sie zeugen von einer spieltechnischen Qualität und einem intensiven Musikantentum, das Alan Bunting durch seine feinfühligen und intelligenten digitalen Restaurationen der Hörerschaft in bestmöglicher Tonqualität preisgeben kann. Zweifellos eines der Highlights dieser wichtigen CD-Reihe.
Erik Daumann


MUSICWEB FRIDAY DECEMBER 07 2007

The Guild Music label in their series The Golden Age of Light Music has built up a most impressive catalogue of forty or so well filled discs. These range from British Cinema and Theatre Orchestras to Bandstand in the Park; from Light Music While You Work to Marching and Dancing and from Childhood Memories to Mantovani – By Special Request.

The present generous twenty-seven number compilation of historical recordings features performances of British dance bands and concert orchestras predominantly from the mid-1940s. The collection focuses on mainly British composers and arrangers, that for a number of reasons did not suit the theme of other volumes in The Golden Age series. We are informed that the set has been assembled mainly from the personal collections of series producer David Ades and audio restorer Alan Bunting. A highlight of the collection is that eleven of the tracks are rare recordings of BBC orchestras such as the much loved signature tunes for the ‘Light Programme’ and the ‘Countryside’ series. Evidently many of the pieces have been personal requests from a number of Guild Golden Age enthusiasts and there is enough material remaining for a second volume to follow.

I have selected seven scores that I found of particular interest. I especially warmed to Frank Cordell’s 1950s performance in his hot and sultry arrangement of Ernest Maxin’s theme music to the BBC TV series Double Cross. Another fascinating track involves Mantovani and his Orchestra from the 1940s, before the influence of Ronald Binge’s cascading string sound, performing the excitable fun and frolics of David Rose’s Spanish Onion.

From the early 1930s I enjoyed the New Light Symphony Orchestra playing Montague Ewing’s Policeman’s Holiday. Ewing’s score, containing both a martial quality and the madcap antics of the Keystone Cops, increased in popularity and was also provided in a version with lyrics. Highly engaging is Reginald King’s Orchestra from the 1930s playing Roses At Dawning by Le Boy Kahn, Gus Kahn and Neil Moret. Here we have romantic music evocative of couples entwined swirling around plush dance halls.

From the early 1930s Richard Crean conducts the London Palladium Orchestra in the Blue Devils – a spirited march written by Charles Williams in Adolf Lotter’s arrangement. The score to Blue Devils was originally published as The Kensington March. Of the seven famous BBC Orchestras featured I must single out the London Studio Players conducted by Michael Krein from 1946 in Jack Byfield’s cheerful arrangement of Oranges And Lemons.

The music used for the BBC Home Service series of countryside programmes the ‘Rivers of The North of England’ was written by Lambert Williamson. Here the mainly pastoral score with episodes of drama is performed by the BBC Northern Orchestra under their conductor Charles Groves, recorded around 1950. Haydn Wood, a student of Stanford at the Royal College of Music, was a prolific and acknowledged light music master. Wood is represented by his joyous Dance Of A Whimsical Elf; a title that so aptly describes the character of the score played here by the BBC Theatre Orchestra under Harold Lowe from 1943.

For those looking for high quality modern recordings of British Light Music there are a considerable number of discs in the catalogues. One of my favourite collections that I can highly recommend is a two disc set titled ‘British Light Classics’ performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Barry Wordsworth. This was recorded in London, in 2003 at the Henry Wood Hall and in 2004 at the Cadogan Hall on Warner Classics 2564 63410-2. Each of the Warner Classics discs have been available separately on 25464 61438-2 and 2564 62020-2. Another collection that is guaranteed to please is an acclaimed four disc set titled ‘British Light Music’ conducted by Ronald Corp and the New London Orchestra. The Corp set was recorded between 1995 and 2002 and is available on Hyperion CDS442614. Each of the four volumes of the set has been released separately on Hyperion: CDA66868, CDA66968, CDA67148 and CDA67400.

On this Guild Music set the sound has been remastered to a most acceptable standard that is exceptional for the age of fifty to seventy-five years. The booklet notes are interesting and reasonably informative but not without error. Lovers of Light Music will be in their element with this eclectic and generous collection of scores from the Guild Music label.
Michael Cookson

Journal into Melody Issue No. 174 December 2007

Putting together collections for Guild Music’s “Golden Age of Light Music” series is usually most pleasurable, but at times it can also be frustrating. The reason is that there are certain pieces of music which, for various reasons, just don’t seem to fit in with the theme of a particular compilation being prepared. Yet they may be high on the list of titles which have an important place in the body of work by a particular composer, and often they have been specially requested by music lovers who have been seeking them for decades: one collector recently thanked Guild for a piece of music last heard over fifty years ago! So this selection is notable for not having a specific theme – except that it is a deliberate attempt to offer a wide variety of styles and ensembles to stimulate the senses and hopefully spring a few surprises along the way. A good number of the tracks are requests, and maybe this CD could be called “Son of Buried Treasures” because it does bear some resemblance to a previous melange on GLCD 5118 which was so favourably received.

As work on this collection progressed it soon became obvious that a further volume would be needed, if we were to be able to include all the special requests we have received. A second helping is available on Guild GLCD 5140 (due to be released at the end of November) and, like this one, it commences with a piece called Kaleidoscope. This time the composer is Artur Clemens Schreckenberger (d. 1989) who was also active as an arranger and publisher in Germany.

The section devoted to BBC Orchestras contains some rare recordings, most of them never previously available. For many years collectors have wondered about the two different versions of Oranges and Lemons which used to introduce broadcasting on the BBC Light Programme. We couldn’t decide which one to leave out, so we have included them both. The beautiful theme for the BBC radio series “The Countryside in … ” (track 17) is also included for the benefit of those collectors who missed it on the Living Era CD “Pink Champagne”. And to complete the BBC connection the CD ends with the familiar play-out music from Billy Cotton’s Band Show on Sundays at lunchtime.