Reviews

GLCD 5118 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Buried Treasure

Various

To the CD in our Shop


International Record Review February 2007

The album ‘Buried Treasurers’ will recall memories for older readers, in particular Hugo de Groot’s fine Automation – the theme music for the 1950s BBC television series Fabian of the Yard, here conducted by its composer. Also related to the capital is London March by George Melachrino, conducted by the composer. This is ‘buried treasure’; I do not recall hearing this very good piece before, which is able to stand alongside similarly titled marches by Eric Coates and Haydn Wood.. There is a further `London’ work here, the extended (6’27”) Soho Rhapsody for piano and orchestra by Philip Green, played by William (Bill’) McGuffie with the Associated British Picture Corporation Orchestra, also under the composer. This 1950 film recording was issued an a 12-inch 78 disc by English Columbia – it was worth reviving, although the stylistic `city’ music is a little short an melodic distinction. The performance is excellent. There are several unknown pieces here from various sources, and many of them have never commercially been issued before, in any format. It is a pleasure to welcome the transfer of a selection of Robert Stolz melodies by the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, conducted by the composer for Decca in 1949 (Guild GLCD5118, 1 hour 18 minutes).
Robert Matthew-Walker

American Record Guide, September/October 2006

Golden Age of British Music

I was not that familiar with the Guild Light Music label before I received this; I shall now pay careful attention to their releases as they come out of England. Buried Treasures is suitable for any summer campfire concert (accent an “camp”). It collects the kind of easy-listening music that has totally disappeared, composed mostly for British radio in the late 1940s and early 50s.

The British have always had a much more varied radio menu than we have, and the BBC commissioned (or used) all sorts of musical themes for their programs, from soap operas to documentaries. If you possibly remember an ancient (1954) CBS-TV crime series called Patrol Car, you might be jostled by hearing its end-theme music here-the show was originally seen in Britain as Fabian of the Yard and had music composed by a certain Hugo de Groot. There are obscure theme songs by such composer-conductors as Robert Farnon, Stanford Robinson, and George Melachrino; and if you are of a certain age, you may recall Sidney Torch and Wally Stott and their orchestras. Even Leroy Anderson pops up here.

This kind of mood music still survives for films and television, and it seems that the best of this lot was written for the cinema. My favorites (as it were)? Well, the Song of Soho’ Rhapsody for piano and orchestra from Murder Without Crime (great title) by Philip Green, an otherwise ludicrous film from 1950 with Dennis Price as a villainous landlord; the music by Leighton Lucas for the wartime RAF documentary Target for Tonight, directed by the great Harry Watt; and the Serbian Sunset’ played by Mischa Michaeloff and his Orchestra-but you probably couldn’t get away with that title today!

Good notes and fine, boisterous 1950s sound. This certainly recalls a more carefree, non-rock era, and for that I say “righto!”.
TRAUBNER


SOURCE NOT KNOWN, 11-2006

The amount of music recorded an 78’s and so much stashed away in publishers’ music libraries that was never sold to the public continues to amaze. So much of it, of course, was for the British market and in any case from this point in time is unknown an these shores. But many of the names are old friends.

Mich in Buried Treasures is being male available for the first time. Alan Bunting’s audio restorations are first rate here and in the entire series. Among the highlights are Stanford Robinson’s Valse Serenade with the BBC Theatre Orchestra conducted by the composer. This was used as a BBC radio theme for “Tuesday Serenade” following WW II. Quite unusual for hem is George Melachrino’s London – March recorded in 1947 by GM himself with his orchestra.

Really special is Philip Green’s Song of Soho: Rhapsody for Piano & Orchestra with pianist William McGuffie taken from a film score for “Murder Without Crime” in 1950. This is another in the genre of the Warsaw Concerto and the Spellbound Concerto. You’ve never heard this one before!. There are many more winners from British and non-British composers. The CD ends with a selection of famous tunes by Robert Stolz who conducts them with the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich.

Say It With Music focuses on the composers. Aside from Americans Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Leroy Anderson, Rodgers & Hart, etc., many Brits are featured as well. The 1950’s sound was pretty decent to begin with, so not too much “restoration” was needed. Among my favorites are White Wedding by Edward White played by the New Concert Orchestra under Dolf van der Linden, Richard Addinsell’s Out of the Clouds with Joe “Mr. Piano” Henderson and Laurie Johnson and his orchestra, Eddie Heywood’s Rainfall with Percy Faith and his orchestra and harpsichordist (!) Bernie Leighton, Frederic Curzon’s Savoire Faire played by the NCO/van der Linden team, Melachrino’s Waltz in Water Colours, and Frank Cordell’s nifty Big Ben Waltz with the composer and his orchestra but using one of his composer’s names of Francis Meillear. This release is one of the best in the series.

The Hall Of Fame – Volume 1 has tracks recorded from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. There are many famous performances here including Morton Gould’s version of David Rose’s Holiday for Strings. Yes, Rose was born in England. The famed Vivian Ellis train piece Coronation Scot with Charles Williams and the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra, Portrait of a Flirt by Robert Farnon (a Canadian by birth as you will recall) conducting the Kingsway Symphony Orchestra, and Noel Coward’s Mad About the Boy with Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra illustrate just some of the gems to be found here.

Anthony Collins conducts his own famous Vanity Fair with the London Promenade Orchestra. Reginald King conducts a real rarity: Percy Fletcher’s My Love to You recorded in 1930. And that old warhorse In A Persian Market by Ketélbey with Stanford Robinson and the New Symphony Orchestra of London turns up as well.

On this CD Clive Richardson is the featured composer. His dates are 1909-1998. We have Robert Farnon and the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducting a 1947 performance of Holiday Spirit, Sidney Torch doing Outward Bound with the same orchestra also in 1947, and best of all, Charles Williams and the Columbia Light Symphony Orchestra in London Fantasia with none other than Clive Richardson himself at the piano. This one dates from 1945. Here is another piece in the Warsaw Concerto mode. I’ll bet you didn’t know there were so many such things! This one is also among the best in the series and maybe a good starting place for you to start looking into these remarkable CD’s.


Brattleboro Reformer, 4-22-06

Great music on CDs

Perhaps local theatrical groups will start to revive a classic from the time when musical comedies had both music and comedy, now that DRG has reissued the 1963 recording of Rodgers and Hart’s “The Boys from Syracuse” (19085).

When Lorenz Hart’s brother could not get a booking because he looked too much like a famous Comic, Hart decided an a musical “Comedy of Errors” to give both men a role. Rodgers responded with such classic tunes as “Falling in Love with Love,” “This Can’t Be Love,” and “You Have Cast Your Shadow an the Sea.”

The cast is a game one (see booklet for their names) and the rest of the score includes numbers that are never less than very good. How about it, Lions Club?

BURIED TREASURES: I have been for so long praising each new entry into the Guild series “The Golden Age of Light Music” that I will simply have to start repeating myself. Take for example the most recent to date, “Buried Treasures” (GLCD 5118). Here are 21 selections drawn from recordings made from 1947 to 1954, culled from what I guess were monophonic LPs.

Among the instrumental groups represented are Celebrity Symphony Orchestra, BBC Theatre Orchestra, Melachrino Orchestra, Leighton Lucas and His Orchestra, and Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra. As one can see, the British groups are featured here.

Among the pieces are “Castles in the Air,” “Parlour Game,” “Pizzicato Rag,” “Automation,” and a selection of melodies by Robert Stolz. Few of these will be familiar to an American audience, but none of them is less than enjoyable, and some are quite charming.

Guild records are handled here by Albany Music Distributors and are available through that company, Amazon.com or local dealers.
FRANK BEHRENS


MusicWeb Tuesday March 14 06

Another fine layer of excavation from Guild …
The seemingly inexhaustible seam that is Guild’s Light Music series has produced more ore. The big names are here – Robert Farnon, Charles Williams and Philip Green and others conducting various aggregations. And the composers – in addition to Farnon and Green (no Williams this time around) – turn up Leroy Anderson, Hugo de Groot, and the always excellent Ancliffe and Melachrino. So the recipe is much as before except most of these recordings will be unknown to all but the most assiduous cultivators, the most dedicated tiller of the Light soil.

Most were only briefly available or not at all since they emanate from Mood Music libraries but as ever with this series the disparate charms and stylistic variety adds pleasurable tang and keeps listening sharp and keen. Castles in the Air is one of the better-known pieces, though not in this performance by the Celebrity Symphony Orchestra – it’s full of fresh air, boldly confident and with appropriately swirly string writing and it gets things off to a rousing start. Farnon’s Swing-Hoe has a touch – just a touch – of the Leroy Andersons about it and is judiciously perky. Quite a surprise for me to come upon Stanford Robinson in this context but of course he did write for the theatre and operetta, as well as his conducting work with BBC orchestras. His is a sophisticated contribution; rather like an entr’acte actually and very persuasively played, not least by the leader, the redoubtable Alfred Barker.

There’s some post-War slink here – Venezuela – and some genuine Anderson in the shape of his Penny Whistle Song. Melachrino cribs from Elgar – Pomp and Circumstance (No.4) and Cockaigne – for his London-March whilst Philip Green comes on all Gershwin for his pocket piano concerto Song of Soho, whose sub-title Rhapsody for piano and orchestra rather gives the game away. Apart from Rhapsody in Blue he half quotes Blue Moon, which I think takes musical punning to the edge. To balance this Leighton Lucas renews the Elgarian homage in his stirring and justly well-remembered music for the film Target for Tonight.

Genre pieces are to the fore, such as the Pizzicato Rag and the jukebox coins in the slot in There is a Tavern in the Town with its take off of contemporary bandleaders Glenn Miller, Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. Staid British hips must have swayed slightly at The Girl from Cuba though the czardas in Serbian Sunset are distinctly of the Monti kind. One of the most evocative of all the pieces is Stanelli’s Atlantis – Stanelli was actually Hugo de Groot – which is a rather attractive tone poem devoid of aquatic cliché.

Fine notes from the assiduous David Ades, who must be running out of things to say (but clearly isn’t), and good smooth transfers, except for what appears to be inherent muddiness in the Song of Soho. To be super critical I do think one or two of these tracks are slightly boxy but that won’t spoil your enjoyment of another fine layer of excavation from the Guild production team.
Jonathan Woolf


MusicWeb Thursday January 19 06

Generally dreamy background music interspersed with lively numbers. Much of it meanders but then one comes across something really attractive, scintillating and rhythmic – try De Groot, Ancliffe and Holliday and Melachrino. …

With such an intriguing title as Buried Treasures, this volume is bound to whet the appetites of the curious and that includes me! What we have is an assorted number of lesser-known works that were composed in the latter half of the forties and early fifties. This was a time when studio dance orchestras, led by the likes of George Melachrino and Sidney Torch, were employed to fill the airwaves on the BBC Light programme (the equivalent of Radio 2) throughout the day in programmes like ‘Music while you work’. Many were in fact used as theme tunes to TV programmes and may well be remembered from this association. Some of the orchestras like the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra and Mischa Michaeloff’s orchestra are not likely to be remembered, however. Others like the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra with Robert Stolz were only known in Britain through their 1949 Decca recording.

What we have is a mixture of generally dreamy background music interspersed with certain lively numbers. Much of the material meanders and is not so special to my ears, but then one comes across something really attractive and interesting. The most scintillating and rhythmic items are for me those by De Groot, Ancliffe and Holliday and Melachrino.

De Groot’s Automation is imaginatively scored with a heavy chugging steam train rhythm in 2/4 time. Its melody that maintains good momentum, and is in fact reminiscent of White’s Puffing Billy. Surprisingly, it was written with patrol cars in mind to accompany the closing credits of Fabian of the Yard TV series. Ancliffe’s elegant two-step Secrets is descriptive of Edwardian gentility with its imagery of opulence while the Country Gardens appeal of Dickon o’Devon conjures up an image of spirited Morris dancers. A charming piece; it was used as the title music for TV’s ‘At the Luscombes’. Although from the pen of John Holliday it could have been composed by Grainger, German or even Coates. Some of the most memorable and recognizable tunes are found amongst the Stolz’s melodies from The White Horse Inn.

The transfers from the 78rpm originals are excellent and the booklet gives interesting background information of the association these items have with TV productions of their day. The disc is ideal for giving the listener a background ambience.
Raymond Walker