Reviews

GLCD 5122 – The Golden Age of Light Music: British Cinema & Theatre Orchestras – Volume 2

Various

To the CD in our Shop


SOURCE NOT KNOWN, November 2006

And still they come. It’s just amazing how many 78’s still survive of this period light music mostly in the collections of producer David Ades and audio restorer Alan Bunting. The present recordings date from the 20’s and 30’s, and the mastering certainly brings out more than was ever heard an the 78’s and with no surface noise whatsoever.

Some tracks feature the cinema organ along with the orchestra, and these Wurlitzers seem to have a much smoother sound than our theatre organs. Tremulants aren’t as wide giving the effect almost of a Hammond or a roller skating rink instrument. Such is the case in Ethelbert Nevin’s Narcissus with the Paramount Theatre Orchestra conducted by Anton and with Al Bollington at the console.

One extended selection is the March Review Medley (arr. Carl Woitschach) played by the famed London Palladium Orchestra under Richard Crean. Fortunately, the notes name all the marches included; some have very brief quotations. There is a big arrangement of Delius’s buddy Sinding’s Rustle Of Spring played by the Commodore Grand Orchestra under the Russian Joseph Muscant.

Eric Coates is represented by a 1928 performance of The Three Bears -A Fantasy with sound not quite as good as some of the later tracks but more than passable. There is a very curious 1939 performance of Elgar’s Salut D’Amour (arr. Artok) by the Para-mount/Anton/Bollington team again. More roller renk organ.

Vivian Ellis’s show “Follow A Star” had Sophie Tucker for its first six weeks until her departure for other gigs. It had to close for a bit until a new star was brought in, but it never really recovered and closed alter 118 performances. Here we get the Overture by the Winter Garden Theatre Orchestra conducted by Sydney Baynes of “Destiny Waltz” fame.

The closing medley is from the film “Aunt Sally” (1934) with Louis Levy recording for the first time with The Gaummont British Studio Orchestra. Not bad. Bet you never heard of that Cicely Courtneidge comedy which came out a year before the release of the recording. Once again, if all this is your bag, go for it.


Klassikcom Friday July 07 2006

Als im Kino noch georgelt wurde
Schon die erste Filmvorführung der Brüder Lumière 1895 wurde mit Musik untermalt. Das war gewissermaßen die Geburtsstunde der Filmmusik. Zunächst war es der einsame Pianist, der geflissentlich die bewegten Bilder auf der großen Leinwand mit allerlei klassischem Repertoire begleitete. Dann leisteten sich größere Filmtheater einen Kinoorganisten. Schließlich erwuchsen daraus regelrechte Kinoorchester, die selbst beim Anbruch der Tonfilmära noch rührig waren und nun dem Kinopublikum mit Live-Musik die Zeit verschönerte. Goldene Zeiten waren das. ‚Guild’ erinnert daran mit der inzwischen zweiten Folge britischer Kino- und Theaterorchester in ihrer äußerst erfolgreichen Edition ‚The Golden Age of Light Music’. Es ist also nicht in erster Linie Musik aus Filmen, wenngleich ein paar Nummern durchaus aus Kinoproduktionen stammen, sondern ein breit gefächertes Repertoire an Arrangements bekannter und beliebter Stücke jener Zeit.

Die Aufnahmen stammen aus den Jahren 1927 bis 1939, einer Zeit des Umbruchs, denn man ging nach und nach dazu über, die Orchester wieder durch einen Kinoorganisten zu ersetzen. Diese Folge mit Interpretationen durch britische Kino- und Theaterorchester ist insofern interessant, als es einige Nummern enthält, in denen Kinoorgel und Orchester eine Synthese eingehen. Für unsere heutigen Ohren mag das manchmal durchaus eigentümlich klingen, wenn der elektrisch wabernde Kinoorgel-Sound mit dem Streicherschmelz duettiert. Zumindest sind dies Dokumente für die Geschichte der Klangästhetik, so kurios sie beim ersten Hören auch erscheinen mögen. Es hat schon Seltenheitswert, Edward Elgars ‚Salut d’Amour’ einmal in einer Fassung für Theaterorchester und Theaterorgel zu hören. Höhepunkte dieser CD sind sicherlich das ‚March Review Medley’ mit dem London Palladium Orchestra unter der Leitung von Richard Crean, bei dem auf sieben Minute Länge so viel Marschmelodien wie man sich nur denken kann untergebracht sind, oder Ausschnitte aus der Musik zu ‚Aunt Sally’ mit dem Gaumont British Studio Orchestra unter Louis Levy in einer Aufnahme von 1934. Die Einspielungen sind allesamt bestens remastered und selbst die Aufnahmen aus den 1920er Jahren lassen keinerlei Tiefe vermissen. Wie immer steuerte David Ades ein profundes Booklet bei.
Erik Daumann


MusicWeb International 2004

The role of cinema orchestras in entertainment is not widely acknowledged. Silent films always had one crucial dimension missing – that of sound. Small cinemas made do with impromptu piano accompaniment to match the moods and actions on screen; in large cinemas an orchestra/ensemble would be kept busy to provide the on-screen accompaniment.

When the talkies arrived, a live orchestra would still be employed to make up presumably for the poor frequency response of the soundtrack and as recording improved to provide general opening, interval and closing music.

This disc pays tribute to the music in vogue during that blossoming period of the talkies. Both Compton and Wurlitzer organs were starting to show their faces and two tracks here feature Al Bollington on one. Leading cinema and theatre orchestras, being London-based, teamed up with the main recording companies to bring about the 78rpm recordings found here.

Some of the titles are new to me, but I particularly remember Bucalossi’s catchy “Grasshopper Dance” (coupled with a boring ‘La Siesta’) on an HMV 10″. Surprisingly, I notice that a version of it also appears on Guild’s first volume in this series [DLCD 5108]. The Elgar, Coates and Chabrier are well known from elsewhere in the catalogue yet it is interesting to judge the competence from other benchmark recordings. Here there are plenty of familiar tunes unknown by name. Richard Crean with his Palladian Orchestra was quite industrious with his output for HMV and commands a good presence with his style.

I enjoyed the Leslie Stuart melodies, a reminder of how good the melodies were that came from the pen of this self-made composer. Many will have forgotten the strengths of Vivian Ellis’s musicals in the Thirties: before his best known, ‘Bless the Bride’ came “Follow a Star”, obviously good enough to have been recorded before the unexpected early departure of its lead, Sophie Tucker, caused an untimely closure. A good variety of content is found on this disc, yet I wonder why neither of the two volumes has carried that memorable tune, ‘The Whistler and his Dog’ (Pryor) since this catchy number was recorded twice by Crean on HMV [B8004 and B8995]. Maybe a third volume is already being considered. The selections are particularly welcome because they help us appreciate what some of London’s musical shows were all about.

As David Ades’ interesting notes make mention, the final track of selections from the Courtneidge film “Aunt Sally” is the first recording by Louis Levy with the Gaumont British Symphony Orchestra; pretentiously titled I suggest when its film studio players would be freelancers. It also documents an uplifting composition by the forgotten American, Harry M. Woods. I had hoped the background notes (English only) would have been longer, especially when two pages of ‘fill’ are devoted to other Guild releases. An interesting full page picture in the booklet shows a recording session of the Gaumont British orchestra with Louis Levy standing above them on a temporary wooden stage.

One has to admire the quality of transfer from these original 78 discs: the frequency response achieved by Alan Bunting is much wider that might be expected from the limitations of recording techniques found during the late twenties, a time when electric recording techniques were still being developed.
Raymond J Walker


Brattleboro Reformer Thursday, May 25 KEENE, N.H

2 more from Guild — Those with fond memories of the wonderful old LPs that were filled with musical arrangements of popular songs conducted by Percy Faith, George Melachrino, Mantovani and Andre Kostelanetz, among many others, will appreciate the ever growing and delightful series, “The Golden Age of Light Music” on the Guild label.

The first of two of Guild’s latest releases is “Great Light Orchestras Salute Richard Rodgers” (GLCD 5123). Among the 20 selections are many of the Rodgers and Hart classics, including “Lover,” “The Blue Room,” “Little Girl Blue” and “Bewitched.” From the Rodgers and Hammerstein team, there are “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and “It Might as Well be Spring.” Add to those some selections from Rodgers’ score for “Victory at Sea” and a marvelous 16-minute “Richard Rodgers Suite,” and here is an utterly enjoyable CD.

On a somewhat different level, we have many composers and arrangers represented on “British

Few of these 19 selections will be familiar to American listeners — and I recommend this CD all the more for that. A few titles are “Grasshoppers ‘ Dance,” “Aisha,” “My Lady Dainty” and “Yankiana — American Suite.” These are all transcriptions from old 78-rpm discs that date from 1927 to 1939, which means that most of them are electric recordings.

Thank you yet again, Guild, for these light-karat gems!
Frank Behrens