GLCD 5106 – The Golden Age of Light Music: The 1930s


To the CD in our Shop


Rather than provide new recordings of light classics which several other labels do so successfully, Guild has been remastering, thanks to terrific work by Alan Bunting (no surface noise!), a whole series of gems from the past. The 1930’s collection is taken from 78’s originally released from 1931 to 1939 an various Labels in several countries.

Not all these are British recordings. The mono sound ranges from very good to excellent with the later recordings probably faring the best.

Among the highlights for me are Arthur Wood’s Curtain Up from “Ballerina Suite” played by the BBC Variety Orchestra under Charles Shadwell and with Reginald Foort on a cinema organ, John Ansell’s nautical Plymouth Hoe played by the Light Symphony Orchestra under the composer’s baton, the famous Glow Worm Idyll by Paul Lincke played by the New Light Symphony Orchestra under an anonymous conductor, Reginald King`s The Immortals-Concert Overture played by no less than the London Symphony Orchestra under Walter Goehr, Haydn Wood’s May Day Overture played by the Light Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the composer, and the famous recording by Paul Whiteman and his Concert Orchestra of Slaughter an Tenth Avenue.

New to me, among many others, was Eduard Künneke’s Overture from Tänzerische Suite played by the Berlin Philharmonic under the composer’s baton. This 1938 Telefunken recording was rather amazing given the Nazi regime’s displeasure at any music with American influences. The CD closes with a selection from 1937 films (almost unknown to me for the most part) played by Louis Levy and His Gaumont-British Symphony.

This and the other Guild releases in the series are recommended highly for all interested in the genre. Modern technology permits these old recordings to be heard in better Sound than ever before.

MusicWeb Wednesday October 06 04

And still they come. Guild’s Light Music Series is as productive as an incubator and the latest baby is this 1930s compilation of mainly – but not exclusively – British works recorded across the decade in question. There are some entertaining selections, right from the cornucopia of an opener, Curtain Up, with its variety of mouth watering selections – and not forgetting organ maestro Reginald Foort of blessed memory doing his (brief) thing. Eric Coates always kept up to date even when his song titles seemed to be looking backwards – Westwards from the Four Ways Suite being a prime case in point with its syncopated tint and gentle modernity. And then there’s John Ansell. The more I hear of his music the more I like it and Plymouth Hoe is no exception; witty quotations spice this one with Elgarian twilights to the fore and ending in Rule Britannia splendour; the composer conducts. Curzon, a master of the genre, contributes noble swagger and brassy English drive but Reginald King goes one better in his charmingly orchestrated concert overture The Immortals that has time for an unexpected fugal passage.

Of course there are novelty numbers here, quite a number of them, to dilute the imperial gait; Sherman Myers’ Butterflies in the Rain for example or Moths around the Flame (played by Campoli) and Glow Worm Idyll, which all fall into that category. Sherman Myers, by the way, must be one of the few recorded examples of someone taking on a Jewish name, rather than ridding oneself of it; he was born Herbert Carrington and also used the pseudonym Montague Ewing so doubtless he sought extra market coverage that way. Haydn Wood stars brightly – his Wagnerian tinged May Day overture sports Elysian winds and bold vibrant writing as well – a complete performer in a comfortable metier. We get some imports as well – the Berlin Philharmonic, no less (rather more prestigious even than Fred Hartley’s Quintet and rather larger in number) essay Eduard Künneke’s Weimar laced banjo and rhythm Tänzerische Suite – a lot of rather cornball Cricket Smith type jazz (or the type that passed for jazz in Berlin at the time). Still, harmless enough and notable for the lyricism embedded within it.

Alongside Marek Weber’s famous ensemble – essaying some more generic novelty stuff – we have the top notch Whiteman band and some transatlantic finesse in the Rodgers and Hart Slaughter On Tenth Avenue and yes, that creaky old concert band could swing when it needed to. Good solo from the principal violin as well; who was he?

Sound quality is fine and the notes are, as ever, helpful and to the point. There might be too many glow wormy and nightingaley things here for more austere tastes – but these were part and parcel of the genre and they do have their place in a conspectus of the decade.
Jonathan Woolf