Reviews

GLCD 5116 – The Golden Age of Light Music: The 1930s Volume 2 – In Town Tonight

Various

To the CD in our Shop


Classical Net

These two CDs continue to add lustre and importance to this memorable collection of British Light Music which now reaches its 16th volume. As usual, the indefatigable David Ades provides the liner notes and contributes his exhaustive knowledge to this series that is fast becoming a labour of love and THE definitive collection for all lovers of this wonderful genre.

IN TOWN TONIGHT takes us back to the heady 1930’s when the ominous sounds of war were already on the horizon. Amongst the most memorable pieces here we have Down the Mall with Philip Green and his orchestra, Knightsbridge March by Eric Coates which was also the signature tune of the radio programme ‘In Town Tonight’ and a delightful selection from Mr Whittington that concludes the CD in the form of a potpourri’ of melodies, as is normally the case with these collections.

The real corker on this CD is the reproduction of a rare experimental stereo track from the legendary Alan Blumlein’s efforts to record two-channel sound. This is surely one of the most important discoveries in the field of light music and all classical music in general and should serve as a stimulus for those who have such important material in their collections to release it to the public.

HIGHDAYS AND HOLIDAYS is a more relaxed scenario and also includes some memorable tunes from those nostalgic post war days. I was not very familiar with the music here but the classic Wedgewood Blue by Ketèlbey immediately caught my ear alongside the delightful Jack And Jill Overture by Croudson that is given a rousing interpretation by Louis Voss and his Orchestra. Add that to Haydn Wood’s unbearably nostalgic Sketch Of A Dandy and other pieces by Charles Williams, Peter Yorke and Ketèlbey’s In A Chinese Temple Garden, then you have a truly wonderful compilation on all counts.

As already expected in this series, the remastering is of high quality throughout with the ghosts of the past salon orchestras chillingly resurrected in what could easily be termed as up to the minute sound. David Ades provides his usual essential notes and the front cover paintings add quality and ambience to what can only be termed as a wonderful collection of music.
Gerald  Fenech


Essex Chronicle 14-07-2006

Guild of good musical variety

Not for the first time, have I focused upon one of the smaller classical Labels available to collectors of CDs in this country.

Guild Records (GmbH) is based in Switzerland.

Having had a long association with their releases, I am more than happy to recommend them, both for their variety and general interest.

For example, one of the series that the company has released is The Golden Age of Light Music.

Admittedly, Guild is not the only company that has explored the treasury of 78rpms, and reissued them on CD.

There are plenty of “nostalgia” editions, but for sheer breadth, the16 volumes is to be admired.

From an introductory volume (Guild GLCD 5101), the series explores each decade, and then some of the big bands and orchestras such as Mantovani (Guild GLCD 5113).

So let me introduce two of the volumes in more detail.

British Cinema and Theatre Orchestras (Guild GLCD 5108) looks back to the times when the big city cinemas had their own pit orchestras that would play during the intermissions (previously during the “silents”).

In this album, the 19 tracks feature pit bands such as the Coventry New Hippodrome, London Hippodrome and London Palladium in some of the easy-on-the-ear numbers including a selection from Jerome Kern’s

Showboat and the very familiar Grasshoppers ‘dance.

I can remember going to a dancing class as a toddler and made to dance to this number – oh, the indignity of it all.

The Golden Age of the 1930s has two volumes linked to it.

The second-(Guild GLCD 5116) introduces some of the same orchestras and other big names of the time (now forgotten) like Edith Lorand and her Viennese Orchestra, Harry Engleman’s Quintet and Barnabas von Geczy and his orchestra.

He probably came from Peckham.

There is an experimental stereo track as a bonus recorded in 1934 with Ray Noble and his New Mayfair Orchestra.

This was the time when popular music was fitted an to the 3 minutes average side of a 78rpm.

But Guild is not just about nostalgia.

Among its latest releases is a winning combination of Dvorak’s celebrated Cello Goncerto, and another shorter work by the same composer, as well as the Cello Concerto in E minor by Victor Herbert (Guild GMCD 7235).

American Cellist, James Kreger, makes a passionate case for this wonderful music, ably partnered by the Philharmonia conducted by Djong Victorin Ya.

Croydon’s Fairfield Hall provides a warm ambience, and however many times you have heard the Dvorak Concerto, listen to that by Irish-born Victor Herbert and find something really dramatic about it.
Chris Green


Essex Chronicle 16-06-2006

Good clean fun

“F” WAS for France last week, now it is for fun, and there are plenty of CDs out which provide that.

So, where to start? Well, a series of reissues of old 78rpm recordings from Swiss-based Guild Records provides as good a starting point as anywhere. The company has a Golden Age of Light Music series which covers a range of topics such as Light Music from the Silver Screen (Guild GLCD 5109), Great American Light Orchestras (Guild GLCD 5114), and In Town Tonight – the 1930s (Guild GLCD 5116). Alan Burning has masterminded the transfer to CDs, and soon the ear adjusts to the compressed sound, but fit is the content which interests me. Take the second volume of the 1930s. Here there are 19 tracks, all with exotic titles like Procession of the Sirdar, actually an arrangement of a famous classic, Donna Juanita and La Paloma. The orchestra line-up is an A list from the period such as Percy Faith, Nelson Riddle, Boston Pops, and David Rose.

For me, the most enterprising is the Silver Screen selection with tracks from mainly forgotten films such as Idol of Paris, and The Woman’s Angle. On the other hand, there are some celebrated releases like The Man Between, Shane, Odette and The Glass Mountain. So, for choice, there are plenty more from the same source revealing, as many of us know, that there is a growing nostalgia market.   Classical Sounds with
Chris Green


Delius Society, USA 02/06

By now there are 18 or 19 Guild releases (Distributor: Albany) of Light Music taken from the 78’s and LP’s of producer David Ades and restorer Alan Bunting with occasional assistance from some friends.

Each of these CD’s has 20 to 27 tracks. I’ll just be able to indicate a few highlights from each.

5109 features recordings from the 40’s and 50’s so the sound even before remastering was good. The opening track is a symphonic treatment of Early One Morning from “Spring in Park Lane” played by Robert Farnon and his Orchestra. This folk tune is one of my favourites, and I was glad to hear this arrangement for the first time. Seascape from “Western Approaches” really sounds like film music and here is played gorgeously by the London Symphony Orchestra under Muir Mathieson. Saga of Odette from “Odette” played by Charles Williams and His Concert Orchestra is another nice one. Williams with pianist Arthur Sandford also offers the Mansell Concerto effectively. It’s from “The Woman’s Angle”. There are such Works similar to, bat not surpassing, the Warsaw Concerto, including the Quebec Concerto from “Whispering City”. It’s Williams again bat with Arthur Dulay at the piano.

All of us of a certain age will recall Mantovani and his “Cascading Strings”. Those lush arrangements were mostly made by Ronald Binge. On 5110 highlights include Sydney Baynes’ Destiny Waltz, Addinsell’s Blithe Spirit-Waltz Theme, El Choclo (Kess of Fire), and Love Here is My Heart with those Cascading Strings in fall cry.

5112 has some tracks where the sound seems a bit bright such as in Shangri-La played by Monty Kelly and his Orchestra. The Danish State Radio Orchestra under Robert Farnon turns up often an these CD’s and two of these winners are Starry Night and Mid Ocean written by Farnon himself. A real surprise was Camarata’s version of Cyril Scott’s Lotus Land. Not to be missed! Composer Bob Haymes, younger brother of singer Dick Haymes, turns up an two pieces: Beyond the Next Hill and La Brilliante both conducted by American conductor Acquaviva and his Orchestra. This one is one of the best in the series.

5113, Mantovani Vol. 2, may not be quite the equal of Vol. 1, but there are some winners anyway. Ancliffe’s Nights of Gladness and Concerto in Jazz by Donald Phillips with Arthur Young at the piano grab your attention.

5115 features music from the Bosworth Mood Music Library 1937-1953. Many publishers maintained their own libraries and among them were Paxton. Chappel, and Boosey & Hawkes. Ketèlbey turns up with In a Chinese Temple Garden and Wedgewood Blue both played by the Louis Voss Grand Orchestra. Busy Business with a nod to The Flight of the Bumblebee is a fun novelty number played by the International Radio Orchestra. Highdays and Holidays by Peter Yorke and again played by Louis Voss gives this album its title. Voss & Co. also play Haydn Wood’s little known Sketch of a Dandy.

From the title of 5116 you’d guess that Eric Coates’s Knightsbridge March has to be here and so it is played by the BBC Dance Orchestra under Henry Hall. Chinese Street Serenade features Alfredo Campoli and His Marimba Tango Orchestra. There is some fancy stick action here. There is an arrangement of Procession of the Sirdar (sec) by Ippolitov-Ivanov, arr. Finck, played by the Commodore Grand Orchestra under Joseph Musicant. Special an this CD is a selection from “Mr. Whittington” played by Ray Noble and the New Mayfair Orchestra. A Bonus track features experimental stereo from 1934 of the last three numbers from the “Mr. Whittington” group. You can hear the difference from the mono recording.

Finally 5117 features bandstand music which may or may not be your cup of tea. But there are some good pieces such as Ketèlbey’s A Japanese Carnival, Walford Davies’ Royal Air Force March Past, a completely unknown An American Folk Rhapsody by American Clare Grundman and played by the Band of the Irish Guards. I couldn’t identify all the tunes bat I did hear “Ort Top of Old Smokey” and “Molly Malone” very briefly. There are some other good ones as well.

The annotations and documentation an all of these releases is first rate as is the sound restoration. Do go for your favourites.

Classicom Tuesday February 28 02

Gustav Mahlers achte Symphonie ist ein musikalisches Schwergewicht, das man besser bewusst verdaut, als es sich als nebenher plätschernde Hintergrundmusik für leichte Büroarbeiten einzulegen oder um damit im offenen Verdeck auf Spritztour zu gehen. Dazu sind die Aufnahmen der so genannten ‚Light Music’, die die Plattenfirma Guild in großer Serie herausbringt, weitaus besser geeignet. Der hanebüchene Vergleich mit klassisch schwerer Kost soll den Wert dieser Musik keineswegs schmälern. Im Gegenteil. Was auf den beiden CDs ‚Highdays and Holidays’ und ‚In Town Tonight’ auf jeweils prallen 78 Minuten kompiliert worden ist, bietet Kurzweil aus alten Tagen, wie sie auf diesem Niveau wohl nie wieder geboten wurde. Es ist Musik, die man sich gerne mal als Hintergrundberieselung einlegt. Und es ist in der Tat Musik für den Hintergrund.

Reiche Archive und frische Musik

Peter Yorke, Charles Williams, Albert Ketelbey, Erich Börschel, Gerhard Winkler, Henry Croudson, Haydn Wood, Gerald Crossman, Philipp Green, Louis Mordish, Wilfred Burns, F.G. Charrosin, Henry Hall, Ray Noble, Barnabas von Geczy, Harry Horlick, Sidney Torch, Charles Shadwell, Alfredo Campoli, Robert Renard, Marek Weber, Edith Lorand, Debroy Somers, und, und, und…. Wer kennt sie heute noch? Komponisten, Orchesterleiter, Interpretinnen einer Epoche, die längst vergangen ist. Nicht aber vergessen. Dafür haben die Archive der Musikverleger der 30er, 40er und 50er Jahre gesorgt. Sie legten riesige Archive mit speziell komponierter ‚background music’ für Film- und Wochenschauberichte an, Gebrauchsmusik im gar nicht mal schlechtesten Sinne des Wortes. Für welchen Zweck auch immer die unzähligen Musikstücke schließlich verwendet wurden, so eint sie zumindest eines: ihr hoher Unterhaltungswert. Was heutigen Hörer in den vorliegenden Aufnahmen der frühen 30er bis hin zu Produktionen der frühen 50er Jahre geboten wird, ist Musik, die von Leuten komponiert und gemacht wurde, die ihr Handwerk gelernt haben. Natürlich tut diese Musik keinem weh, erfordert keine intellektuelle Höchstleistung und sie erhebt auch nicht den Anspruch, große Kunst zu sein. Sie ist Kleinkunst im besten Sinne des Wortes. Die Drei-Minuten-Stücke glänzen durch frische, eingängige Melodik, teils mit schmissigen Rhythmen unterlegt. Da baden die Geigen in einem Portamento-Schmelz mit zuckrigem Vibrato, kichern sich die gestopften Trompeten eins und zwitschern die Holzbläser ihre ohrwurmigen Kantilenen. Ein Schatzkästlein ausgesprochen gut gemachter Musik, die nun endlich ihr Schattendasein als ‚Hintergrundmusik’ ablegen und fröhliche Urständ als CD-Veröffentlichungen feiern darf.

Diese Originalaufnahmen atmen noch mit der Technik der frühen Jahre, insbesondere die Aufnahmen der 30er Jahre. Gerade das aber macht den Charme der Stücke aus. Vollere Klangpanoramen bieten dagegen die jüngeren Aufnahmen der 50er Jahre mit ihrem berüchtigten Hollywood-Sound. Im Booklet erfährt man zudem in detaillierten Infos, wer hinter all den Musikernamen steckt. Zwei Scheiben mit niveauvoller Unterhaltungsmusik der alten Schule. Nostalgisch, aber frisch aufbereitet und noch dazu von hohem editorischen Gehalt.


MusicWeb Wednesday November 22 05

A fine addition to Guild’s series of Light Music recordings. Almost the entire CD has the In Town Tonight mood. Ideal music to remind you of a walk down Regents Street or a trip to the shows. …
Just before receiving this CD to review I was having drinks with a friend in the St George’s Hotel in Langham Place. There are two things – or is it three – to say about this hotel. Firstly it was built – more or less – on the site of the old Queen’s Hall famed for Sir Henry Wood and the ‘Proms.’ Secondly the view from the ‘rooftop’ bar is stunning – some twenty storeys in the sky, much of London is visible. St Paul’s Cathedral, Charles Holden’s stunning Senate House, the Post Office Tower and Canary Wharf to name but a few. However we were actually looking towards the Langham Hotel; did Rachmaninoff not stay here when in London? We were almost at eye level with the top of the spire of All Souls Church. And behind the spire is the BBC building recently revealed in all its glory. On the street below, taxis were coming and going – delivering hotel guests and revelers: a Red London bus was stopped at the traffic lights. My friend remarked to me that when she saw a view like this the tune In Town Tonight ran through her head. All that was needed to complete the picture was the Christmas Lights in Regent Street and the seasonal displays in Selfridges and the late Dickens and Jones. If any tune epitomises the mood and feel and soul of London in the evening it is this great tune by Eric Coates. The story is well known and does not need to be rehearsed here. However let us never forget that it is actually called the Knightsbridge March – the popular title accrued after being associated with the radio show which was broadcast for some 27 years.

Almost the entire CD has the In Town Tonight mood. All the pieces were recorded in the rather strange years before the Second World War. It was a time when the Depression was over, but worrying developments in Continental Europe were either scaring people or were being studiously ignored. Folk were wealthier than they had been for quite some time – even the motor car was well on its way to dominating the roads. Musically the ‘dance bands’ held sway. And of course none was more popular than Henry Hall.

However there are many ensembles represented on this disc – including some from countries with which Britain would soon be at war. But at that time the geographical realities made little difference to those who wanted to dance or listen to the latest hits whilst sipping cocktails.

For example, Barnabas Von Géczy was a Hungarian who later ran an orchestra in one of the best hotels in Berlin. The piece given here is quite simply called Pony by Joseph Rixner – I suppose that it represents a gambol through the English (rather than the Bavarian) lanes on a cool spring day.

The first number on the CD is John Belton’s Down the Mall – which opens with military fanfares. An Eric Coates style march soon gets going and leaves us in no doubt that we are watching the troops marching towards the Palace – even if it is quite a jaunty little number.

My personal favourite on this CD is the Paramount Theatre Orchestra’s rendition of the fine Bitter Sweet Waltz by Noel Coward. Of course for ‘us’ cinema organ buffs there is the added bonus of Al Bollington on the Wurlitzer!

One of the curious things on this recording is the number of Eastern-influenced works. I can only assume that ‘chinoiserie’ must have been popular at this time. Alfredo Campoli conducts the Chinese Street Serenade, whilst Richard Crean and his Orchestra entertain us with a Chinese Legend. I assume that the International Radio Orchestra’s version of Kismet falls into this category. Not quite the Far East – but further East than Southend comes an arrangement of Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Procession of the Sardar from the Caucasian Sketches. I am not sure if the Commodore Grand Orchestra does justice to the original composer’s inspiration

But Europe is not forgotten – there is a lovely version of Yradier’s La Paloma – with Sydney Torch on the Wurlitzer. And the Spanish theme is continued with Donna Juanita which is really a novelty piece rather than an impressionistic account of a Spanish senorita!

Of course there are a few ‘selections’ from the ‘shows’ and compilations of well known tunes. The Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra recalls a number of melodies that insist we be ‘Happy’. The Debroy Somers Band encourages us to get our skates on and get down to the Ice Rink. We hear short snippets of The Skater’s Waltz, Gold and Silver Waltz, Wiener Blut and, hardly an icy theme, back to sunny Spain, Espana.

Another selection is from ‘Mr. Whittington’ played by the New Mayfair Orchestra. This was based on numbers from the musical starring Jack Buchanan and Elsie Randolph. Included in this recording is a rare example of experimental stereo from as long ago as 1934.

A number of old favorites are well presented. Victor Herbert’s Badinage is played by the American Henry Horlick (what a wonderful name! – nearly as impressive as Bassett-Lowke the model railway engineer!). The Squirrel Dance by H. Elliott Smith was popular in its day. Of course Sydney Baynes’ Ecstasy Waltz was always guaranteed to entertain both dancers and listeners. It is well played here by Edith Lorand and her Viennese Orchestra. One of my personal favorites is the evocative and slightly jazzy Fingerprints by Harry Engelmann. Shadowsplay is almost like something that Russ Conway might have played on the Morecambe and Wise Show.

This is a fine addition to the Light Music series that Guild has embarked upon. As for the recordings, they have been well cleaned up. As a rule I do not go for ‘historical recordings’, however this release gives me no problems with my listening pleasure.
John France


Classical Net October 2005

In Town Tonight – The 1930’s Volume 2

These two CDs continue to add lustre and importance to this memorable collection of British Light Music which now reaches its 16th volume. As usual, the indefatigable David Ades provides the liner notes and contributes his exhaustive knowledge to this series that is fast becoming a labour of love and THE definitive collection for all lovers of this wonderful genre.

‘In Town Tonight’ Volume 2 takes us back to the heady 1930’s when the ominous sounds of war were already on the horizon. Amongst the most memorable pieces here we have ‘Down the Mall’ with Philip Green and his orchestra, ‘Knightsbridge March’ by Eric Coates which was also the signature tune of the radio programme ‘In Town Tonight’ and a delightful selection from ‘Mr Whittington’ that concludes the CD in the form of a potpourri’ of melodies, as is normally the case with these collections.

The real corker on this CD is the reproduction of a rare experimental stereo track from the legendary Alan Blumlein’s efforts to record two-channel sound. This is surely one of the most important discoveries in the field of light music and all classical music in general and should serve as a stimulus for those who have such important material in their collections to release it to the public.

‘Highdays and Holidays’ is a more relaxed scenario and also includes some memorable tunes from those nostalgic post war days. I was not very familiar with the music here but the classic ‘Wedgewood Blue’ by Ketelbey immediately caught my ear alongside the delightful ‘Jack and Jill’ Overture by Croudson that is given a rousing interpretation by Louis Voss and his Orchestra. Add that to Haydn Wood’s unbearably nostalgic ‘Sketch of a Dandy’ and other pieces by Charles Williams, Peter Yorke and Ketelbey’s ‘In a Chinese Temple Garden’, then you have a truly wonderful compilation on all counts.

As already expected in this series, the remastering is of high quality throughout with the ghosts of the past salon orchestras chillingly resurrected in what could easily be termed as up to the minute sound. David Ades provides his usual essential notes and the front cover paintings add quality and ambience to what can only be termed as a wonderful collection of music.
Gerald Fenech


Brattleboro Reformer Thursday September 22 05

Guild releases Two more collections of ‘Golden Age’ music
Thursday, September 22, 2005 – KEENE, N.H.

Two from Guild — I have already reviewed several Guild recordings that form a delightful series titled “The Golden Age of Light Music.” These sets consist entirely of original British recordings from the past, and two more have been issued that are the equal of any of the earlier sets.

“In Town Tonight: the 1930s, Volume 2” (GLCD5116) includes such “miniatures” (brief pop pieces) as “Down the Mall,” “La Paloma,” “Chinese Legend” and other pieces, some of which might sound familiar. Among the bands and orchestras represented are those of Philip Green, Harry Horlick, Debroy Somers and other names that are most likely totally unfamiliar to all but British listeners who recall these vintage recordings. Believe it or not, there is even a stereo recording from 1934(!) as a bonus.

“Highdays and Holidays” (GLCD 5115) tries in a lighthearted way to stick to the theme of the title with such pieces as “Neapolitan Serenade,” “Wild Goose Chase,” “Cutty Sark,” “Flight of the Toy Balloon” and “Typical Teenager.” The selections are nicely arranged chronologically by year of release from 1937 to 1953.

Both sets have booklets loaded with information about the pieces and players. I would recommend getting the entire Light Music series and enjoying the lot of them. They are available on Amazon.com or through your local music dealer.
Frank Behrens


Review By Jonathan Woolf

Showing no let-up and casting its net ever wider the Guild reissue team has sought further Light Music from the 1930s. A look at the orchestras and ensembles will show that, owing apparently to friendly constructive criticism, rather more continental examples have been included. It’s certainly time for Edith Lorand and her orchestra to get extra exposure – what about a retrospective of her best recordings? – and it’s equally good to see a stalwart of the recording studios like Barnabas von Géczy contributing a title. But in the main, despite these jaunts across the Channel (and the Lorand orchestra plays none other than Sidney Barnes’ Ecstasy Waltz) the focus is centred on Blighty.

Philip Green has been a backbone of the Guild reissue programme and he contributes a rather Eric Coates-like Down the Mall whilst organist Al Bollington contributes some theremin like noises in Coward’s Bitter Sweet Waltz. There are a few show selections here, ones devised to run on both sides of a 78. Charles Shadwell, an experienced musician, waves the baton over the Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra in a 1935 selection; at the piano is Jack Wilson who infiltrates a little, knowing Harlem Stride. The Regal Virtuosi – one of the ancillary and pleasurable things about this series is tracking down the grandiose names of some of the theatre and cinema ensembles – don’t quite get into La Paloma whilst Alfredo Campoli and his Marimba Tango Orchestra (which just about covers it) certainly do their best by the Chinese Street Serenade. Though whether they should have bothered is another question.

Kismet by Erich Börschel doffs its cap in the direction of the clarinet solo in Rhapsody in Blue and a different kind of popular music is explored by the capable Debroy Somers, whose redoubtable credentials as a show-band leader can clearly be heard here. Naturally there’s genuine Coates, performed by the pukka BBC Dance Orchestra “directed”, not conducted, by Henry Hall. The much less well-known Robert Renard and his orchestra contribute a rather sturdy Donna Juanita – the Paso Doble seems to have been a spicy exotica during the 1930s – and there’s the unusual spectacle of Herbert Küster’s Piano Orchestra. Russian born Joseph Muscant and his Commodore Grand Orchestra have a decent stab at Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Procession of the Sardar, though the band sounds smaller then Grand – Compact, maybe. At the opposite scale we have the very swish Ray Noble and his New Mayfair Orchestra and as a bonus a 1934 experimental stereo excerpt from the same band. Those who know the Alan Blumlein experimental stereo Beecham discs will know what to expect.

As ever the presentation is good; the copies used seem to have been in first class state, though they can sound a mite treble starved for my taste. How deep is Guild’s well?


The Coventry Telegraph Tuesday September 06 09

This pic of the past is now gracing the cover of a CD of The Golden Age of Light Music.

Music featured on the Guild release gives the CD another Coventry link with a”Happy” selection from the Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra conducted by Charles Shadwell, including I Want to be Happy, Happy Days are Here Again, Happy Feet, Back to those Happy Days, Many Happy returns of the Day and Spread a Little Hippiness.

The picture was one of a series of ostcards commissioned by Coventry transport enthusiast Roger Bailey and shows Broadgate and the old Owen Owen from 1938/39. Sid Cooper was the artist.

David Addis a producer for Guild, said “We pride ourselves on the quality of the pictures on the covers and I came upon this lovely picture on the internet. Roger Bailey was kind enough to let us use it”

To find out more about the CD and the rest of the series, log on to guildmusic.com