GLCD 5121 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Joyousness – The Music of Haydn Wood


To the CD in our Shop

International Record Review, February 2007

Several CDs in this series are devoted to one composer, and I welcome with pleasure `]oyousness – Music of Haydn Wood’. Here is another master of his craft at the top of his form. It opens with the unforgettable `Horse Guards – Whitehall’ (from his London Landmarks suite) and includes items conducted by Wood himself, as well as – of course – the haunting Roses of Picardy. To show the esteem in which Wood (1882-1959) was held, a mention of some conductors on this disc should suffice: Robert Farnon, Charles Williams, Peter Yorke and Charles Shadwell among them. This is superbly crafted and orchestrated music, as one expects from a Stanford pupil, in which capacity the most interesting (and rarest) item here is Wood’s Stanford Rhapsody, a purely orchestral work founded entirely upon Stanford’s Songs of the Sea, played by the Debroy Somers Band. This album constitutes a valuable collection of music by a truly fine composer (Guild GLCD5121, 1 hour 18 minutes).
Robert Matthew-Walker


Guild has started to release single-composer CD’s in its Golden Age of Light Music series. Not all of these focus an British composers, but this one is a winner and a revelation to all lovers of Haydn Wood’s music. Three tracks are conducted by the composer himself with the Light Symphony Orchestra all dating from the 1930’s an HMV 78’s. The title tune for this CD is a famous tune which comes from the Moods Suite and has been recorded by many others up to the present day an various light music CD’s. But this famous recording is worthy of your attention. Wood’s own version of Mannin Veen has especially decent sound for 1936 and is his tribute to his childhood home, The Isle of Man. The composer also conducts the Homage March written for George V’s Jubilee in 1935 and quotes “God Save the King” towards the end.

There are two nautical medleys of special interest: The Seafarer- A Nautical Rhapsody based on a host of sea chanteys in a very good 1952 Performance by Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra plus a very rare Stanford Rhapsody based an Stanford’s Songs of the Sea. Four of the five numbers are included while “Outward Bound” is omitted. The Debroy Somers Band is featured an this 1946 Columbia and is really a large orchestra, the largest that the conductor ever used. All his recordings used the same name regardless of the size of the forces.

The oddest version ever of Roses of Picardy by Peter Yorke and His Concert Orchestra features Freddy Gardner an saxophone. Was this somewhat strange sound produced an a soprano sax? Other favorites might include the Montmarte Manch, Nelson’s Column-Overture, and Wood’s arrangement of Charles Marshall’s I Hear You Calling Me played by the famous London Palladium Orchestra under Richard Crean.

There is much to enjoy and learn from this release. If light music appeals to you, go for it.

MusikWeb Wednesday July 05 2006

Wood’s recipe for cheerful and bright, easily accessible music is provided in many different and original forms. …

The music of Haydn Wood has been largely forgotten since the 1950s, before which time many pieces were regularly played alongside those of Eric Coates on the BBC Light programme. Some of the melodies linger in our minds following their use as signature tunes for ‘Down Your Way’ and other programmes of the ’seventies.

The career of Haydn Wood may well have taken a different path had it not been influenced by his marriage to concert hall singer, Dorothy Court. Born in Yorkshire, he spent much of his formative years growing up on the Isle of Man, which explains the existence of Mannin veen, written in 1936. An excellent violinist from his teens, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he studied composition under its principal, Stanford. By 1905 he had composed a Piano Concerto and String Quartet and was seemingly locked on the path to becoming a serious classical composer, possibly emulating the stilted output of Stanford.

His marriage changed his direction for ever more, because the songs and ballads written for his wife to perform became good money earners. By 1918, Roses of Picardy grossed £100,000 alone and royalties from recordings all helped cushion a good style of living even before his exposure to the new wireless that not only broadcast his works, but also provided commissions.

On this disc, Wood’s recipe for cheerful and bright, easily accessible music is provided in many different and original forms. The recordings span 1930-1949 and three tracks remind us of the existence of the now long-forgotten Queen’s Hall orchestra; their home bombed in the 2nd World War. After the war when the BBC grew in stature, publishers like Booseys and Chappells launched a series of ‘mood music’ records in return for payment by royalty. These would be internally provided to producers of radio, TV and film to give ready access to incidental background music in return for a royalty. Most of the ‘mood music’ recordings, rightly included here, have been generally unknown to the public.

Wood had the skill to provide styles reminiscent of popular identities: there are numbers that remind us of Edward German (Nelson’s Column, Caprice), William Walton (Torch of Freedom), and Eric Coates (Horse Guards). The Spanish idiom is well conveyed by the fast moving Seville number from his Cities of Romance suite, even if the castanets are almost lost in this recording. Roses of Picardy has a wonderfully good vocal line, which is not done justice by this decorated saxophone arrangement. The composer’s skill as an arranger can be found in his nautical rhapsody The Seafarer [tr. 6] where folk tunes are provided with interesting variations. Perhaps the most catchy is Montmartre with its contemporary Kern/Rodgers image for 1937.

Six other Haydn Wood numbers can be found on other Guild discs. The transfers from the 78 rpm originals are excellent. The booklet gives interesting and useful background information but only in English.
Raymond Walker Thursday June 29 2006

Mit britischer Noblesse

Wenn einem schon der Name ‘Haydn’ in die Wiege gelegt wird, was anderes kann man dann noch werden als Komponist? Haydn Wood gehörte zu den produktivsten Schöpfern auf dem Gebiet der britischen ‚Light Music’. Anders als auf den vielen anderen Kompilationen mit ‚Easy Listening’-Kost längst vergangener Jahrzehnte, die ‚Guild’ überschwänglich ediert und in der wunderbaren Reihe ‚The Golden Age of Light Music’ zugänglich macht – wieder zugänglich macht, widmet sich diese CD zum ersten Mal dem Werk eines einzelnen Komponisten. Einem, der es redlich verdient hat, aus dem Schatten eines Eric Coates, der zeitgleich mit Wood das Feld der leichten Muse bestellt hat, heraus zu treten. Haydn Wood gehörte zu jener Spezies Komponist, die ständig zwischen so genannter U- und E-Musik hin- und herpendelten. Diese Gratwanderung hat Wood wie kaum ein anderer meisterhaft beherrscht, wie die Aufnahmen dieser Veröffentlichung belegen, worunter sich auch so manche discographische Kostbarkeit und Rarität befindet. Er komponierte für die BBC, den Konzertsaal und versuchte sich sogar an ‚musical comedy’. Wood hatte das Talent eines Melodikers. Dass seine Stücke nie in das Grenzgebiet der Plattheit und Beliebigkeit geraten, liegt vor allem aber auch daran, dass er zudem die Gabe eines Symphonikers und guten Orchestrators hatte. Und nicht zuletzt trat er auch als Dirigent eigener Werke auf.

Seine eigenen Aufnahmen aus den 1930er Jahren sind tontechnisch natürlich nicht vergleichbar mit den Einspielungen anderer Orchesterchefs wie Peter Yorke, Charles Williams, Robert Farnon oder Richard Crean aus den 40er und frühen 50er Jahren. An Schwung (Swing wäre hier nicht angebracht), Elan und Stringenz ist Woods eigenes Dirigat aber unschlagbar. 19 Appetithäppchen präsentiert diese CD, Ausschnitte aus den zahlreichen Suiten des Komponisten, die allesamt Lust auf die kompletten Werke machen. David Ades steuert wieder einen wunderbar ausführlichen Begleittext bei. Ein Anhang listet wiederum discographische Querverweise auf. Bitte weiter so, ‚Guild’
Erik Daumann

Review By John France

I came to the music of Haydn Wood by way of his Piano Concerto. This may seem rather strange when one considers that the composer’s most popular piece is undoubtedly ‘Roses of Picardy.’ Even today this Great War song is seen as being something of an ‘anthem for a lost generation’. It is only necessary to look at any CD catalogue for confirmation – there are some seven versions currently available. And following as a close second is the song A Brown Bird Singing. Orchestrally, the London Landmarks Suite is well known and is played relatively often – especially the march Horse Guards – Whitehall.

Yet it was Hamish Milne playing Haydn Wood’s Piano Concerto in D minor that made me think about this man and his music. It may not be a ‘masterpiece’ or exhibit pure genius but it is a fine concerto and makes one feel better about life after hearing it – what more could you ask for?

And there was another thing. I often used to take the train from York to Manchester. Just after Huddersfield the train passed through the town of Slaithwaite – not pronounced, apparently, as it is spelt. I had learnt that Haydn Wood had been born in this little town on the Yorkshire side of the Pennines. Every time the train puffed – or motored, these days – up the hill to Standege Tunnel I used to spare the composer a thought. However any notion that his ‘sly shade’ still haunts these wild moorlands was expelled by finding out that he moved to the Isle of Man with his parents at an early age. And the Isle of Man was to be important for the composer in the ensuing seventy odd years. But a little more of that later.

It was only after hearing the Piano Concerto that I explored Wood’s music more systematically. I found the two Marco Polo recordings in a second-hand CD shop in York. Here were some classic tunes that captured the imagination – Variations on a Once Popular Song, the ubiquitous but charming Sketch of a Dandy, the metropolitan London Cameos, the delightfully named Dance of a Whimsical Elf and many others. Of course the two potboilers mentioned above were included. Sadly these two discs appear to have been deleted from the Naxos/Marco Polo catalogue – so listeners have lost a fine opportunity to hear over two hours of Haydn Wood’s music. And lastly there is Philip Scowcroft’s excellent essay on MusicWeb which brought me up to speed with the composer’s background and achievements.

One of my favourite pieces on this present CD is the ‘concert waltz’ Joyousness which has all the charm and panache of the best of light music. It is the final movement of the Moods Suite – which explores Dignity, Allurement, Coquetry, Pensiveness, Felicity and our present feeling of ‘Joy.’ Also recorded is the Caprice which is, in fact the third movement – Coquetry. This turns out to be a fine little scherzo. Interestingly, if we do our sums this suite must add up to nearly half an hour of music – not far short of a veritable ‘light’ symphony.

There is a nautical flavour to this disc represented by three works. Firstly the attractive medley Seafarer: this is in many ways as impressive as the more famous Sea Songs by another Wood! And of course Nelson sitting on his Column certainly has a salty tang to it. Yet the most impressive marine piece has got to be the unusual and slightly sycophantic Stanford Rhapsody. Wood was taught by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music and this work is ‘a heartfelt tribute’ to the elder composer. The Stanford enthusiast will not need to be told that the work derives from the great ‘Songs of the Sea’ thankfully recently released by Chandos [CHSA5043] It is certainly an attractive way to hear this music – minus, of course, the soloist and the choir. I prefer the original, I hasten to add – but this is an enjoyable ‘take’ on what is now probably regarded as a dated and politically incorrect piece: Drake coming to save the nation in times of trouble.

Haydn Wood certainly enjoyed writing marches – and the three presented here are excellent. I have mentioned Horse Guards – Whitehall which is definitely ‘marchy,’ – but it is the lesser known Homage March which appeals to me most. Strangely the programme notes suggest that the Festival March, written in 1949, is present on the CD. I initially guessed this from the fact that Guild appears to italicise all works recorded and print other work references in normal type. Festival March is in italics – yet I cannot find it listed as a track – which is a pity. Torch of Freedom is another ‘grand march’ which was apparently used by radio and television companies. It is a classic example of a signature tune for a nineteen-fifties wireless production. It has a lovely ‘trio’ theme which nods to Elgar and everyone else who has ever written a stirring march.

The Laughing Cavalier (as opposed to the Laughing Policeman) is a novelty pure and simple. Nothing profound here – just fun. Yet we often tend to lose that particular mood in our musical listening.

In a more reflective frame of mind we have the delicious Longing which is a little character piece that will remind everyone of what it is/was like being in love. This is just pure romance – a heart on the sleeve job. Yet Soliloquy goes deeper: this is almost ‘Delian’ in its soundscape and none the worse for it. It is perhaps my favourite piece on this CD. Simply gorgeous. The imagery may suggest a landscape but it is certainly not the Isle of Man: to me it is a reflection of a summer’s afternoon on the ‘downs.’

Seville from the Cities of Romance appeals to me for its exuberance – and the ‘cinema ‘organ.’ It features Reginald Foort on the Wurlitzer. Montmartre (Paris Suite) is another little piece that is pleasant – but somehow does not really remind me of Paris, France or anywhere else. Where is the Can-Can, for example?

The ‘Vienna’ movement from the Frescoes Suite is a good opportunity for the composer to indulge in an enchanting waltz.

In London we are on safer ground and each of the three movements of the London Landscapes hit the target. Nelson (a great hornpipe here), Tower Hill and Horse Guards – what better introduction can there be to the pageantry of the great city of London? And yet there is a wistfulness and even reflectiveness about some of this music that goes way beyond sheer ‘postcard’ writing.

Perhaps the pieces I am least enthusiastic about are the song arrangements. I positively dislike the saxophone solo in Roses of Picardy – yet it may be to someone’s taste. The Bird of Divine Love seems to be something from the past that perhaps does not strike many chords these days. And I Hear you Calling is in fact an arrangement by Haydn Wood of a number by Charles Marshall.

The weightiest piece on this CD is Mannin Veen. This is well described in the programme notes by David Ades as being Haydn Wood’s ‘Manx Tone Poem’. It may not have the depth or profundity of Bax or Strauss yet here is a work that is certainly worth playing and listening to. The title means ‘Dear Isle of Man’ and it is exactly the kind of work I would expect someone who had been brought up on the island to compose. It could be argued that it is in some ways a rhapsody – a concatenation of Manx folk tunes – and this may be true. Yet Haydn Wood uses his material in a way that does not allow us to hear the work as a patchwork. The transitions between tunes are virtually seamless. Much of this music is quite moving but it is never overtly sentimental.

I have only been to the Isle of Man on a couple of occasions. Yet this work strikes a chord with me. I recall walking on Spanish Head in the south of the island one summer’s night. It was nearly dark and we could see all six kingdoms – Blackpool Tower and the Pleasure Beach, the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse in Scotland, the glow of Larne in Ulster, the light off Anglesey and of course the Isle of Man itself. But then there was the sixth – the Kingdom of Heaven! – Not to mention anything about the realm of the fairies. All this magic, I am sure, was in the thoughts of the composer as he wrote this fine work.

I am not a great enthusiast of historical recordings – usually because the thought of noise and scratches tends to put me off. However this is not a problem on this CD. All these tracks have been beautifully re-mastered and restored by Alan Bunting. Of course it is obvious that these are not recent recordings, but there is nothing here to distract from the enjoyment of the music. Naturally those pieces recorded post-war tend to be of a better audio quality than those from the early nineteen-thirties.

Now back to my only criticism. I do wish that Guild had been able to include entire ‘suites’ as opposed to selections. For example we have extracts from Moods, Paris, Cities of Romance, and Frescoes Suites. The London Landmarks Suite is represented by all three movements – Horse Guards, Tower Hill and Nelson’s Column. However they do not follow on in the track-listing, they are not by the same band, nor in the correct order. I accept that this Suite is available elsewhere on CD but do wish it was given again here. Any of the other suites in their entirety would have been great although I concede that they may not be in the sound archives that were used to compile this present release.

There are a number of great bands and orchestras represented here, including the London Palladium Orchestra, the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra and the Debroy Somers Band. However pride of place – at least for historical reasons, must go to the Light Symphony Orchestra’s versions of Horse Guards – Whitehall, Homage March and Mannin Veen – all conducted by the composer himself.

A great CD that captures the spirit of Haydn Wood’s light music. A good introduction that certainly does not supersede, but complements the deleted Marco Polo CDs mentioned above. And the bottom line is this – after listening to this CD you will feel great – the sun will shine – I promise you!

Gramophone July 2006

In March 2005 I welcomed the first 10 releases in the Guild Light Music collection, featuring transfers from 78s and early LPs.  Already the series has expanded to 21 volumes. Of the latest three releases, THE HALL OF FAME – VOLUME 1 offers a rich helping of light-music classics beginning with David Rose’s Holiday for Strings under Morton Gould and ending with a spotlight on Clive Richardson including his celebrated Holiday Spirit and London Fantasia. Among relatively few less familiar items I especially welcome the delightful My Love to You by the sadly underrated Percy Fletcher. ‘THE 1950S VOLUME 3 – SAY IT WITH MUSIC is devoted specifically to early-1950s recordings, and it covers a wide range of composers, orchestras and styles.

Whether it’s a plus or minus for a single CD to range through Roger Roger conducting his own music, the Hamburg Radio Orchestra playing Straus’s Waltz Dream, and Geraldo and His New Concert Orchestra playing a piece by Joyce Cochrane will depend on individual taste, but there will surely be welcome discoveries for all.

For me the greatest attraction lies in ‘JOYOUSNESS – THE MUSIC OF HAYDN WOOD, not least because it includes several items omitted from the Marco Polo collections of music by this British light-music master (8/92,8/97). Of the London Landmarks suite, for instance, we have not only the celebrated Horse Guards — Whitehall but also Nelson’s Column and Tower Hill, even if sadly scattered around the CD rather than grouped together.

I indicated previously that a major downside of the series was the curious attitude towards vocal items Rather than authentic vocal versions, we have here, for instance, a souped-up and distorted Vilia by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, an over-the-top Till the Clouds Roll By by the Gordon Jenkins Orchestra, and a cringingly awful Roses of Picardy featuring Freddy Gardner on the saxophone. Truly one man’s meat is another’s poison!

For the most part, at least, these CDs make happily undemanding and highly pleasant listening. Alan Bunting has reprocessed the recordings expertly, and they come with informative notes  David Ades.  Andrew Lamb

In Tune International – June 2006

This wonderful series, the best light orchestral library ever assembled on compact disc, continues to weave its magic. A batch of five new discs is now available and three are reviewed this month with a further two covered in the next IT. For those readers yet to discover the Guild series may I summarise a few facts that are common to the project. The series draws on recordings made by commercial labels and music publishing companies during the 1930s, 1940s and the 1950s up to the existing copyright cut-off point. The compilation discs aim to offer light music items not available elsewhere. All recordings are digitally remastered to the highest standards. Two of the most dedicated and knowledgeable light music collectors combine their talents in creating the project which now totals 23 compact discs. David Ades is series producer and compiler and Alan Bunting is responsible for audio restoration and remastering.

For many of us who collect light orchestral recordings the “golden age” of the music began in the immediate post second world war years with the 1950s seeing the zenith. With the issue of GLCD 5119, SAY IT WITH MUSIC, the resourceful Guild team offer volume three of a sequence of discs featuring leading orchestras of the Fifties. A 27 track 77 minute long CD contains sumptuous performances of great “evergreens”, in a tastefully blended programme designed to provide maximum listening pleasure. That is guaranteed with the participation of Stanley Black, David Rose, Leroy Anderson and Robert Farnon to name just some of the great maestros who dominated the genre. To stimulate the enthusiasm of the serious collector any Guild CD invariably contains a rarity and/or a surprise. In the case of GLCD 5119 it is gratifying to find three recordings made under the baton of the distinguished Dutch conductor DoIf Van Der Linden. Light music is renowned for providing original compositions in “mood music” of a descriptive nature. On this disc, pieces such as Leroy Anderson’s famous Sandpaper Ballet, Phil Green’s Wagon Trail and Big Ben Waltz played by Frank Cordell’s Orchestra are typical examples. A disc that really hits the right note!

With THE HALL OF FAME – VOLUME 1 (GLCD 51120) the Guild team very sensibly take stock of the fact that light music has its newcomers who deserve to have the opportunity to buy CDs containing classic recordings by the music’s leading lights. In presenting a compilation of well known works the more seasoned collector is not forgotten as GLCD 51120 demonstrates. Alongside recordings of Holiday For Strings, Serenata, Portrait Of A Flirt and the like are fairly obscure pieces by leading orchestras, examples being Wedding Of The Rose (Ron Goodwin) and Wooden Shoes (Harry Horlick). Another nice feature is the “tribute” to a particular composer, in this instance, pianist-composer, the late Clive Richardson is remembered in three works, including his superb concert piece London Fantasia.

The work of a single composer is celebrated in depth with THE MUSIC OF HAYDN WOOD on GLCD 51121-JOYOUSNESS. 19 recordings by different orchestras illustrate the music penned by one of Britain’s most distinguished light music figures. Haydn Wood’s music has been represented before on Guild releases with regular selections from his large repertoire but “Joyousness” provides a substantial survey of his entrancing music, of which much is so very English in structure and content. The collection takes in recordings from the entire period of Guild’s scope, the 1930s to the early 1950s. Wood’s famous ballad, Roses Of Picardy is heard in the celebrated Peter Yorke recording with the great Freddy Gardner. The composers supreme versatility is demonstrated in compositions that don’t prompt thoughts of all things English via Seville, which features Reginald Foort at the organ and in the New Concert Orchestra’s playing of Vienna (from the “Frescoes Suite”). A collection of outstanding quality with the accent on the more serious style of light music that particularly illustrates the superb sound engineering work carried out by Alan Bunting for this unique series. More next time.
Brian Belton

MusicWeb Wednesday May 17 2006

Haydn Wood interpreted with engaging brio … All is set fair for a rip-roaring programme and so it proves. …

It’s always a pleasure to encounter Haydn Wood interpreted with such engaging brio as here; not least in the three composer-conducted items where Wood leads the Light Symphony Orchestra. The recordings span pretty well two decades and there are some scions of the Light Music establishment on the rostrum: Charles Williams, Debroy Somers and Robert Farnon prominent among them.

All is set fair for a rip-roaring programme and so it proves. Wood’s versatility in the genre was never in doubt and the selection gives us an enviable smorgasbord of waltzes, Nauticalia, Elgariana, fantasias, selections from suites, overtures and the like. Throughout there is the air of spruce command – crisp orchestration from Wood and understanding articulation by the appointed bands. The title track for instance, conducted by Wood, is a delightfully brisk affair whereas The Laughing Cavalier is a deft study in mock pomposo and contrasting avuncularity.

Some interesting period details emerge; the London Palladium Orchestra’s fiddles –though relatively few in number – stand on the cusp of a portamento/non portamento dilemma – some do and some don’t – which is appropriate for the time of the recording. And then there’s the magnificent Freddy Gardner, with Peter Yorke’s band, unfolding his golden saxophone in Roses of Picardy with glutinous delight – too much for me but there’s no arguing with it.

There are the occasional rather generic pieces that fail to make much impact – Seville from the Cities of Romance suite, even with Reginald Foort and Charles Shadwell plying its trade in this recording, sounds rather suburban. But The Seafarer gives us Wood on home ground, or water, spinning out some nautical tunes with effortless élan; note the tightly muted trumpet in The Drunken Sailor. Wood’s affection for Elgar’s music is evident in Nelson’s Column but even more so in his 1935 salute for the Silver Jubilee of George V, the Homage March, which has Pomp and Circumstance No.6 (or 7 – it’s so hard to keep up with Elgar reconstructions these days) written all over it.

Mind you I was brought up short by the Delian writing that informs Soliloquy. It was written in 1947 and is here conducted by Farnon who understands it perfectly and is an unusual sideline on Wood’s musical tastes and affinities. His Isle of Man tribute – he spent his childhood there – gets rather Hebridean but the tribute to his old teacher, Stanford’s Songs of the Sea, goes with the old man’s vigorous panache.

The notes are up to Guild’s usual standard in this extensive series. The transfers are strong on reducing 78 hiss to very listenable levels – no intrusive background – but at some expense in the treble so that they can sound a touch airless. A small caveat in the light of the extensive pleasures here.
Jonathan Woolf