Reviews

GLCD 5115 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Highdays and Holidays

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


Klassik.com

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.
Eric Daumann


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


MusicWeb Tuesday September 27 05

Of all the publishers’ libraries of mood music Bosworth was always one of the most engaging. Guild has here collated some prime specimens from 1937 to 1953. … Jonathan Woolf
Of all the publishers’ libraries of mood music Bosworth was always one of the most engaging. Guild has here collated some prime specimens from 1937 to 1953. The most hard working band was that of Louis Voss though Bosworth’s own house band makes an appearance as do a number of light ensembles with plausibly high falutin’ names. The honesty-first London Bijou Players certainly make up in style what they may lack in heft. The items here were recorded to be used on newsreels and television as well as film and other sources. So in the main they’re pert, rather formulaic, tightly structured and musically cogent, instantly colourful and evocative and scored with acumen. A number are staples of the Light Music repertoire – Charles Williams, Ketèlbey and Haydn Wood amongst them – but there are plenty of far less well-known items to tickle the nostalgic buds.

Once such is the Playful Pelican, a piece of pert kitsch from the busy pen of Peter Yorke, though following it with the cosmopolitan Buddha’s Festival of Love makes for an entertaining contrast – plenty of Festival, very little Buddha. Louis Voss’ was an enterprising band but he can’t match the composer’s own various recordings of Wedgewood Blue – Ketèlbey’s own discs always had a certain frisson. Busy Business by Frederick Charrosin, one of the composers not labouring under an alias here (“Claud Vane” and “Kenneth Essex”, decent sounding chaps, were actually Rufus Isaacs) is a wittily orchestrated affair – piano, pizzicati, and strong brass. And in one of those trademark Guild mood switchers The Ballet Dancer is all aerial grace and agility.

Charles Williams was one of the most accomplished of all these composers contributing a spruce piece of Elgarian Nauticalia in Cutty Sark and great sensitivity in Serenade to a Mannequin – it’s much better than its title. The title track goes to Peter Yorke and it’s positively luscious in its out-of-doorsness; all charabanc trips to the country, and romantic vistas. Not sure about the sound though – it sounds somewhat desiccated and as if rather too much noise reduction has been employed. Period concerns are represented – Speedway for example and the Sabre Jet. There are plenty of passing pleasures – the gorgeous tune in Henry Croudson’s Jack and Jill. Then there’s Travel Centre, a sign of the times when the age of the Holiday Abroad was fast approaching and a fine selection generally.

I needn’t mention the notes, which are characteristically wide ranging, though a number of the composers’ biographies have been covered before. I’m still of the opinion that too much top has been taken off but the sound is certainly not displeasing.
Jonathan Woolf


Brattleboro Reformer Thursday September 22 05

Guild releases Two more collections of ‘Golden Age’ music

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