Reviews

GLCD 5107 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Charles Williams & The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra

Various

To the CD in our Shop


January 2005 – Source unknown

Guild has entered the Light Music stakes with a number of CD’s that don’t seem to duplicate very much of what’s out there. The historic reissues remastered superbly by Alan Bunting are amazing for the excellent sound and complete lack of surface noise.

GLCD 5104 offers a fantastic collection of big names such as Ray Martin, Charles Williams, Eric Coates, Mantovani, Ron Goodwin, Frank Chacksfield, Melachrino, Robert Farnon, Stanley Black, and Sidney Torch among others. Their bands and orchestras were composed of crack players.

Robert Farnon conducts his own Goodwood Galop with the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra in a spiffy performance from 1948. Another delight is Rainbow Run by Edy Mers conducted by Ron Goodwin and His Concert Orchestra in a 1953 reading.

Special is Sidney Torch’s arrangement of an Oklahoma medley with Torch himself conducting his orchestra. Torch was also known as a fine cinema organist.

GLCD 5107 offers rarities from a slightly earlier period, and the sound is slightly more gritty but still very good. Charles Williams (real name Isaac Cozerberit; I didn’t know that) conducts the entire program of items from Chappell’s library which is really not totally representative of the period because Chappell had so many war numbers. The earliest items were recorded at EMI’s Abbey Road Studio, but those from 1943-1945 were made at Levy’s Sound Studios on New Bond Street, and the sound from those sessions is even better. Percy Fletcher’s Dancing On The Green is worth noting as are two rare items by Montague Phillips: Hillside Melody and Forest Melody. There are a number of items by Charles Williams himself but none better than a wonderful Rhythm on Rails. There are many pleasures on this CD besides these Those into Light Music already will need no urging to get these CD’s Neophytes, plunge right in!


Brattleboro Town Crier page 19 01-05

by Frank Behrens, well known in the Monadnock area for his history of music, talks, classes and reviews of CDs & Videos

It seems that the sma1ler labels very often come up with the most interesting CDs. Take for example Guild label, coming to us from Switzerland and available here through Albany Music Distributors. A good example is a CD ca1led “The Golden Age of Light Music: the 1940s” (GLCD 5102), and it is a delight!

There are 23 tracks that include such British and American orchestral gems as “Music in the Air,” “Just One of Those Things,” “Laura,” “Runaway Rocking Horse,” “Ascot Enclosure,” and a medley of Irving Berlin songs to wrap things up. Along the way, you will hear such musical groups as the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra. Billy Ternent & His Orchestra, The Stanley Black Orchestra, Morton Gould & His Orchestra, Melachrino Orchestra – several of which many in my age will remember from the days of the 78 rpm album and of the early mono LP.

The sound is of course from the 1940s and therein lies the charm of sets like this. Not only will this disc give you much listening pleasure but it might trigger some fond memories of dining at home to some of these very recordings.

There is, you can see, a good deal of light music unknown to most music lovers. Listen, for example, to another Guild entry in their Golden Age of Light Music series, “Charles Williams & the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra” (GMCD5107). Since it was too expensive for radio to use existing recordings as background music for their shows, a good deal of music was commissioned to be written exclusively for broadcasts. However, some of these , themes became so popular that the public demanded recordings of these short pieces; and on this disc, we have 28 examples of archival recordings by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra, directed by Charles Williams.

Other than those of Eric Coates, John Ansell, and Haydn Wood, whose music I have heard on other labels, most of the names of the composers included here were unfamiliar to me and will be so to most of you: Charles Shadwell, John Holiday, Percy Fletcher, Billy Reid, and so on.

As for the pieces themselves, none is less than pleasant, most are delightful: “London Ca1ling,” “Dancing on the Green,” “Lulworth Cave,” “Naval Splendor,” and two dozen other little tone poems recorded from 1942-45 – and sounding very good for their age. So here is a really good addition to : your collection of light music and a terrific gift idea for any occasion. You can contact Albany at 800-752-1951.


Memory Lane Magazine – February 2005

Guild are pressing ahead with what is already an impressive library of light music CDs. Two more releases that keep up the very high standard already established are “The Golden Age Of Light Music -The 1930s, on GLCD5lO6 and “Charles Williams & The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra” on GLCD5 107. The 1930s CD starts, appropriately, with Charles Shadwell and the BBC Variety Orchestra playing Curtain Up. Jack Hylton follows with Wedding Of The Rose. One of many light music pieces he recorded for HMV I was particularly pleased that this selection included a number by Fred Hartley’s Quintet – a group previously missing from my CD collection. I have quite a few Paul Whiteman’s but not his splendid version of Richard Rodger ‘s Slaughter On Tenth Avenue. This track is followed by numbers from Leslie Jeffries, Henry Hall and Louis Levy, all of whom are well known to dance band fans.

The CD of the QHLO directed by Charles Williams features historic recordings from the Chappell Recorded Music Library (1942-45). Although most of this music was intended simply as a background to films and newsreels it has much to commend it. Many famous composers provided scores for the library and on this selection we find Eric Coates, Haydn Wood, Billy Reid and Charles Shadwell among others. Charles Williams himself was a prolific composer and several of his tunes are included. The first track, London Calling, was regularly used by the BBC as a signature tune and another atmospheric little ditty, Naval Splendour, is a reminder that when these recordings were made the nation was in the middle of a horrific war. Both CDs have been excellently re-mastered and come with very informative sleeve notes written by David Ades.


Sunday Citizen Correspondent

There is a good deal of light music unknown to most music lovers. You can hear some of it on a Guild entry in a fine series of CDs called The Golden Age of Light Music, “Charles Williams & The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra” (GMCD5107).

Since it was too expensive for radio to use existing recordings as background music for their shows, a good deal of music was commissioned to be written exclusively for broadcasts. However, some of these themes became so popular that the public demanded recordings of these short pieces and on this disc we have 28 examples of archival recordings by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra, directed by Charles Williams.

Other than those of Eric Coates, John Ansell, and Haydn Wood, whose music I have heard on other labels, most of the names of the composers included here were unfamiliar to me and will be so to most of you: Charles Shadwell, John Holiday, Percy Fletcher, Billy Reid, and so on.  As for the pieces themselves, none is less than pleasant; most are delightful: London Calling, Dancing on the Green, Lulworth Cave, Naval Splendor, and two dozen other little tone poems recorded from 1942-45 – and sounding very good for their age.  So here is a really good addition to your collection of light music and a terrific gift idea for any occasion.
FRANK BEHRENS


RADIO TÉLÉVISION BELGE – DE LA COMMUNAUTÉ FRANÇAISE

Centre de Production de Liège

Aux amateurs de musique dite légère (ou concert music) – et aux autres,  GUILD ,  dans sa récente série “The Golden Age of Light Music” propose une superbe incursion dans le répertoire CHAPPELL des années ’40, avec la collaboration de deux de ses plus fameux piliers :  le légendaire Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra sous la direction du non moins légendaire  Charles Williams  (1893 – 1978).  Cela nous vaut de la sorte un CD des plus passionnants dans ce domaine.  En effet, GUILD nous offre pas moins de 28 raretés en 78 t./min, choisies avec un goût exquis par David Ades.  Raretés en ce sens que les gravures CHAPPELL n’étaient pas destinées au commerce, mais bien aux stations Radio-TV et au cinéma, notamment pour les actualités.  Il n’est donc pas étonnant que tout au long de ce merveilleux CD, réapparaissent des souvenirs sonores très lointains, cachés qu’ils étaient dans notre subconscient.

Ces souvenirs sont d’autant plus ravivés que ces petits bijoux nous sont révélés avec leurs sonorités originelles, magnifiquement restaurées par Alan Bunting, et qu’en l’occurrence, rien ne vaut ces sonorités typiques de l’époque pour nous replonger dans cette sorte de paradis perdu.  Mieux encore, pour certaines pages, il s’agit du seul enregistrement disponible :  c’est donc suffisamment dire l’intérêt primordial de ce CD essentiel qui contient des super raretés, telles que « Naval Splendour » du regretté Clive Richardson, pièce un tant soit peu de circonstance en pleine tourmente mondiale.

Il est hors de question de citer tous les quinze compositeurs représentés dans ce vaste panorama, mais précisons toutefois que pour chacun d’entre eux, le splendide Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra resplendit de tous ses feux, grâce à la baguette inspirée de Charles Williams qui nous comble par sa musicalité sans faille, notamment dans sept pages de son cru qui comptent parmi les plus purs joyaux de cette anthologie.

À l’écoute de ce merveilleux CD, on ne peut que comprendre pourquoi cette époque a été qualifiée, à juste titre, d’Âge d’Or de la musique légère.
Michel  TIBBAUT ,  ir.

MusicWeb Wednesday September 22 04

Guild’s Light Music Series really narrows its focus with this release. Others have been devoted to a particular decade or to genres but this one tucks into the Chappell Recorded Music Library, initiated in 1941 to tie in with the newsreel mood music that was proving so popular. The first 78s followed in 1942, conducted by Charles Williams, and here we have twenty-eight tracks released over a three-year period and featuring some of the composing luminaries of the field.

Williams (born Isaac Cozerbreit) was an interesting chap, an ex-fiddler of repute who had made Zonophones in the 1920s and had played under Elgar before embarking on his film music career, one that was to take him to the top of the tree in Britain. The big names are here – Eric Coates, Haydn Wood – as are the less well known – John Holliday, Frank Tapp – and the recently re-established such as Montague Phillips. Threaded throughout are Williams’ own compositions, which include the bold, confident The Future, with its Elgarian March affiliations – something that Denis Wright shares in his Empire Jubilee March. Billy Reid contributes some elegant Viennese pastiche and the ever inventive Percy Fletcher offers a touch of exotica in At the Court of Cleopatra. Tapp starts with some VW then mines the nervy-pastoral school whereas Charles Shadwell’s Lulworth Cove is full of ripe romanticism, with a fine rippling waves lapping into the shore. Haydn Wood’s Virginia must have Delius’s Appalachia on its mind but, as the notes wisely point out, Wood, who was conducting this 1942 disc, clearly hurries it along to fit the time constraints – it could profitably be a lot more languorous (beautiful wind writing, though I’m not sure about the Swanee River quotes).

Clive Richardson turns roistering in Naval Splendour whilst deft Montague Phillips scores highly with his splendidly orchestrated Forest Melody. But perhaps we should leave the last word to the ostensible hero of this disc, Charles Williams. His finely dramatic Witches’ Ride is a genre piece, certainly, but it has vivacity, colour and rhythm – unpretentious and lively. And that goes for most of the items on this well filled and entertaining disc. I enjoyed it immensely.
Jonathan Woolf