Reviews

GLCD 5110 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Light Music Mantovani – By Special Request

Various

To the CD in our Shop


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.

The current batch for review includes:
Light Music from the Silver Screen GLCD 5109
Mantovani-By Special Request GLCD 5110
Reflections of Tranquility GLCD 5112
Mantovani-By Special Request-Vol. 2 GLCD 5113
Highdays and Holidays GLCD 5115 In Town Tonfight- The 1930s Volume 2 GLCD 5116
Bandstand in the Park GLCD 5117. ‘

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.


Memory Lane Magazine – February 2005

GLCD 5110 – MANTOVANI – BY SPECIAL REQUEST

Begin The Beguine; Carriage And Pair; Destiny Waltz; The Way To The Star; Tropical; Blithe Spirit; Whirlwind; September Nocturne; The Timbalero; Passing Clouds; Blue Mantilla; Flying Saucers; El Choclo; Love Is Here In My Heart; When The Lilacs Bloom Again; Love’s Roundabout: A Media Luz; Poeme; Love’s Dream After The Ball; Amoureuse; Chiquita Mia; Love’s Last Word Is Spoken; Blauer Himmel; Suddenly; The Whistling Boy; The Agnes Waltz.

I should make clear straight away that the tracks on this CD are by the Mantovani concert orchestra rather than the smaller unit that played for dancing pre-1939. This compilation in the Guild light music library series has in part been compiled from requests made by Mantovani’s many fans, who presumably already have original or re­issues of his biggest hits, such as Charmaine. These recordings were first made between 1943 and 1953, starting with the Cole Porter melody that for a while was Monty’s theme tune. Mantovani always coaxed a wonderful sound from his orchestras even before the advent of the “cascading strings” and this selection gives an excellent cross-section of the repertoire and style that gave Mantovani an appreciative world-wide audience. Great sound and comprehensive liner notes complement the maestro’s music.
GH


Mantovani WEB Pages

A brand new Mantovani CD has just been issued in the Guild Golden Age of Light Music series. For those who don’t know, this series has been initiated by Guild Records of 314b,8262 Ramsen, Switzerland (www.guildmusic.com) whose e-mail address is mailto:guildmusic@bluewin.ch. The Mantovani disc is the 10th in the series which has set a very high standard so far for sound quality, presentation and selection of music. All of the series is currently available in the UK and,  like the Mantovani CD can be ordered from Guild Records or from the Secretary of the Robert Farnon Society, David Ades (e-mail address Mailto:david@rfsoc.freeserve.co.uk.)

So what’s on the CD? Well, it’s a sparkling selection from the 1940s and early 1950s combining both Mantovani’s pre-Charmaine orchestra and the large string orchestra post-Charmaine. The tracks and original dates of issue are:

Begin The Beguine (43); Carriage And Pair (50); Destiny Waltz (49); The Way To The Stars (47); Tropical (44); Blithe Spirit – Waltz Theme (45); Whirlwind (48); September Nocturne (49); The Timbalero (44); Passing Clouds (48); Blue Mantilla (48); Flying Saucers (Bees In The Bonnet) (50); El Choclo (Kiss Of Fire) (48); Love Here Is My Heart (52); When The Lilac Blooms Again (52); Love’s Roundabout (La Ronde De L’Amour) (52); A Media Luz (53); Poeme (My Moonlight Madonna) (52); Love’s Dream After The Ball (53); Amoureuse (So Madly In Love) (53); Chiquita Mia (46); Love’s Last Word Is Spoken (52); Blauer Himmel (53); Suddenly (Im Chambre Separee) (53); The Whistling Boy (53); The Agnes Waltz (52). Total no of tracks = 26. Time 77.44.

With audio restoration and remastering by Alan Bunting and notes by David Ades you can be sure that this CD is of the highest quality. “Begin The Beguine”, the opening track, was Mantovani’s signature tune in the early 1940s and this is a very pleasing version. “Carriage And Pair” which follows it is one of Mantovani’s best pre-“Charmaine” pieces, a delightful cameo from the days of elegance. Mantovani and Ronnie Binge are both represented by important compositions: Binge’s “Whirlwind” is quite a rarity as are Monty’s wonderful “September Nocturne”, surely one of his best ever, and the lovely “Blue Mantilla” which until now has been one of the hardest of all Mantovani recordings to track down. For these three tracks alone the CD is worthy of purchase, but there are others from the pre-Charmaine era of equal importance, for example “Flying Saucers” also known as “Bees in The Bonnet”, a fabulous showcase for pianist Arthur Sandford, and the ultra rare “Passing Clouds” which previews the intimate sound Monty and Ronnie Binge came up with in 1951. The post-Charmaine numbers are pretty good, too. Here is the sound that made Mantovani famous in all its umptuousness. The intimate sounds of “Love, Here is My Heart” are a prelude for the rest of the album. Other favourites of this particular reviewer from this later period are those lovely Continental waltz hits “When The Lilac Blooms Again”, “Poeme”, “Love’s Dream After The Ball”, “Love’s Last Word Is Spoken” and “Amoureuse”. Gorgeous, every one of them! There is something for all Mantovani lovers here and this important album should not be overlooked by any serious collector.

Incidentally, the Robert Farnon Society (http//www.rfsoc.org.uk ) exists for all lovers of light orchestral music and covers not only Robert Farnon’s work, but Mantovani’s as well, and all the other great light orchestras. The Society brings out an exemplary 80 + page glossy magazine, “Journal Into Melody”, every three months, full of comment and CD reviews. The membership secretary is Albert Killman (Mailto:akillman@clara.co.uk). (Tell them we sent you!, Ed.)
Colin MacKenzie


In Tune International – January 2005

GLCD 5108 – BRITISH CINEMA AND THEATRE ORCHESTRAS
GLCD 5109 – LIGHT MUSIC FROM THE SILVER SCREEN
GLCD 5110 – MANTOVANI – BY SPECIAL REQUEST

What a splendid way to start a musical New Year! Three contrasting compilations from the enterprising Guild Light Music label and more opportunities for David Ades and Alan Bunting to strut their stuff’. Very pleasant memories of yesterday’s entertainment scene in Britain are evoked by BRITISH CINEMA & THEATRE

ORCHESTRAS, an intriguing compilation of 78 rpm records by London and provincial based ‘pit bands’ in their heyday from the late 1920s through the 1930s. The unique sound of a cinema/theatre organ is heard on several tracks in unison with the orchestral playing and a fascinating combination results. The UK’s major record labels had sufficient faith in these ensembles to put them on disc and justifiably too as the level of musicianship was immensely impressive. In my own West Midlands ‘neck of the woods’ the Coventry New Hippodrome Orchestra under the direction of William Pethers was considered the finest outside the pit band at the London Palladium. I am delighted to see their recordings (possibly made in the Coventry theatre) of selections from ‘Showboat’ and ‘The Vagabond King’ in this set.

The several different orchestras on display all perform with verve and vitality making their music travel across the years with an undiminished freshness. Alan Bunting has worked his customary magic in bringing this music to compact disc with a startling clarity. A delicious slice of nostalgia!

I am happy to bestow similar praise on LIGHT MUSIC FROM THE SILVER SCREEN, spanning the years 1946-1953. British and American orchestras are featured in David Ades’ sparkling compilation of LP and 78 rpm recordings. While the music from the 1930s on the previous disc was before my time, these recordings date from a period when I first began to appreciate and admire popular light music on radio and records. Leading names of the period participating in this collection include Charles Williams, Sidney Torch and George Melachrino. Robert Farnon leads off with his arrangement of the traditional air EARLY ONE MORNING, featured in the early Fifties film SPRING IN PARK LANE. I am pleased to see listed two recordings by the marvellous MGM Studio Orchestra, DANCING IN THE DARK from ‘The

Band Wagon’ and ADORATION from ‘Lili’. Conrad Salinger’s gorgeous arrangement of the former title still

sends shivers down my spine and so for that matter do the emotional strains of CALL OF THE FARAWAY HILLS, the Victor Young theme for the great western ‘Shane’. It is played here by Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra. This 78 minute disc is a pleasure to hear and to recall images of many fine films.

I can well remember envying my best friend’s father when, back in the early 1950s, he started collecting records by Mantovani. In due course I got to hear some of those discs and realised that ‘Monty’ was a brilliant conductor in charge of an outstanding group of musicians. Only in the last few years have I fully appreciated the depth and scope of Mantovani’s music from the early years of his career. Adding to my education is Guild’s fine compilation of 26 recordings from 1943 to 1953 under the title MANTOVANI – BY SPECIAL REQUEST. Given the famous string sound image of Mantovani a Ia CHARMAINE, as conceived by Ronald Binge, it is intriguing to hear a quite different orchestral sound on BEGIN THE BEGUINE from 1943 which opens this superb collection. A saxophone section, full brass plus strings and rhythm would baffle me in a blindfold test but that was Monty vintage ‘43, and very nice too. Many more gems follow in a range of musical moods. Great entertainment!

Just to remind those not already familiar with previous Guild releases, the discs are most attractively packaged with delightful coloured artwork on the front cover, authoritative liner notes and a listing of song titles, composers etc. At the risk of repeating myself, this is the perfect way to build a light music collection of real quality.
Brian Belton


MusicWeb International

Mantovani’s was the top band of its type and here’s a fine selection of its Deccas …

Britain benefited enormously from expatriate Italian musicians. Both Mantovani and Campoli came to London within a year or so of each other, aged no more than six, as their musician fathers sought better employment prospects. Both men’s careers began similarly; prodigiously talented, early training (in Mantovani’s case at Trinity) and early debuts. Both gravitated towards the light field, restaurants and theatre bands, and grew to fame. Of course Campoli’s ambitions lay elsewhere but Mantovani’s career in light music was long lasting and famously productive.

It helped that he also played the piano and that he had such fine arrangers. It was Ronald Binge who was largely responsible for the Cascading Strings, that glamorous waterfall that was so much a part of the Sound. But there was much else; the standard of musicianship in all sections was high, the songs were snappy and brightly contoured and Mantovani had an ear for piquant colour. So Begin the Beguine is here – of course – as is The Way to the Stars with its fine strings but there’s also the Noel Coward selection, with the Waltz from Blithe Spirit proving to have a sultry wash of fiddles and notable clarinet. Binge’s Whirlwind is rousing stuff and there’s some ruminative, romantic piano in Mantovani’s own September Nocturne. He wrote quite a fair amount, often under pseudonyms, and this one shows his sensitive palette and romantic affiliations. With Flying Saucers (Bees in the Bonnet) we embrace the novelty genre and there’s the tang of the accordion in the promisingly titled El Choclo (Kiss of Fire). We can sample the Binge-Mantovani strings at their most cascading in Love’s Roundabout – and the band at its most soupy in Fibich’s Poème (a performance that would have made a Palm Court fiddler blush). To balance that there’s the rococo charm of Ian Stewart’s The Whistling Boy which like the rest of this programme was recorded in the decade between 1943 and 1953.

Mantovani’s was the top band of its type and here’s a fine selection of its Deccas. I have a strong feeling that the discs could yield more treble than they do in these transfers; there’s been just a little too much noise reduction and that’s squeezed a bit of the air from them. Still, that’s a relatively small matter; there’s no surface noise in compensation.
Jonathan Woolf