GLCD 5104 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Great English Light Orchestras


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Essex Chronical 25.11.2005

The golden age of cinema

The late Robert Farnon launches the 25-track collection with his composition, Gateway to The West and names familiar to anyone of a certain age like Leroy Anderson, David (The Stripper) Rose, and Philip Green make this a memorable album.

You can enjoy Great British Light Orchestras (Guild GLCD 5104) such as George Melachrino, Mantovani and Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra with original tunes, highly descriptive with titles such as Canadian Capers and Gypsy Fiddler.
Chris Green

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!

International Record Review – January 2005

Recent Releases

Very much in the same vein are two well-filled Guild CDs, ‘Great American Light Orchestra’. The British CD contains genuine treasures among the largely unfamiliar original items, 26 tracks from 1946-53. In particular, the Television March by Coates – here conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in 1946 – and the Cactus Polka, conducted by the great Walter Goehr (whose pseudonym, ‘George Walter’, as a composer and arranger of light music, is also shown but not mentioned). Robert Farnon’s Goodwood Galop could teach Shostakovich a thing or two.
Robert Matthew-Walker

Review By Gerald Fenech

This is the fourth volume in what is turning out to be a real winner for the Guild labels’ Light Music Series. The seventy odd minute collection contains a wide spectrum of works with the leading exponents of the genre such as George Melachrino, Sidney Torch, Robert Farnon and Charles Williams alongside many others.

There are many popular favourites here including a delightful Television March by Eric Coates, the wonderful Kashmiri Song with Mantovani and a raucous medley from the musical, Oklahoma!. Other interesting names included Robert Farnon who conducts Joyce Cochrane’s Honey Child with suitable panache throughout. I already possess Schertzinger’s Sand in My Shoes with Farnon from an earlier album on Dutton but this Guild version is slightly more translucent.

Further interesting items include Valencia by Edmundo Ros and his orchestra, a lovely and evocative Spring Morning by George Melachrino and a rousing Television March by Eric Coates. The disc concludes with a wonderful medley from Oklahoma, surely the right tonic to what is really a wonderful disc. Guild’s remastering is really excellent with just the right balance between reducing the surface noise and retaining truthful sonics of these recordings. I just can’t wait for more releases in this series!

MusicWeb Wednesday July 21 04

There has been a current interest in transferring 78rpm to CD by major recording labels. Perhaps it is unusual to see that Guild, principally a Swiss company, have now followed suit and picked on a genre essentially ‘everyday’ English.

The titles will not be readily known by many under the age of 45, but in the forties and fifties the BBC saturated the airwaves with this style of music in their regular ‘Music while You Work’ programmes or interludes in some of the BBC comedies. Equally unknown may be the names of some of these small-time composers who often ran radio variety orchestras like Stanley Black and Ron Goodwin. Coates, Farnon and Torch were established composers in their own right but in this compilation it would have been nice to represent Black and Torch. (Has Torch’s catchy tune ‘Jumping Bean’ recorded on a 78 ever been transferred?)

Not only has Guild’s sound restoration and transfer of these 78s by Alan Bunting been excellent, with no hiss or clicks and a wide frequency range, but also the original recordings by Decca, Parlophone, EMI, Columbia, Philips, and Polygon must be admired. The recordings were made at the start of the tape recording era when companies like Decca held fast to the direct cutting method until tape stability had been fully researched.

For me this music certainly evokes memories, but I find its style somewhat monotonous where melody is thin and orchestral texture hallmarked by off-beat brass chords. Listeners who have not been saturated by this music in their youth will find its immediacy pleasing.
Raymond J Walker