Reviews

GLCD 5102 – The Golden Age of Light Music: The 1940s

Various

To the CD in our Shop


Essex Chronicle June 2010

On the lighter side of classical and cross over music is a series of releases with a distinctly nostalgic feel from Guild Records. David Ades has compiled More Strings in Stereo!
featuring some of the top names of the post-war years such as Nelson Riddle, Morton Gould and Percy Faith and their respective orchestras. With tunes such as high Noon and By a Sleepy Lagoon, you won’t be disappointed (Guild GLCD 5159).
And, of you enjoy this release, then Guild have many more in the same Light Music series including one featuring hits from 1940s (Guild GLCD 5102) and another from the 1950s (Guild GLCD 5103)Chris Green

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” (GLCD5107). 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.


Autumn 04 News Paper Source not known

Light Music from the 1940s

It seems that the smaller 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. My first experience with this label is a CD called „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. You can contact Albany at (800) 752-1951.

Frank Behrens of Keene, RH., writes arts und entertainment reviews, which appear in many of the region’s newspapers. He is also well-known for his talks on opera and American musical history.


Keana Santinel – 20/01/2005

CD isn ‘t light on British light music
By FRANKBEHRENS Contributing Writer

I told you recently about one of the historical Guild recordings. It also has, among its many fascinating catalogue entries, two CDs of light music from the 1940s and from the 1950s. While those concentrated on British composers and bands, the latest offering, “The Golden Age of Light Music: the 1930s,” gives us a cross-section of records made on both sides of the Atlantic.

Composers include Richard Rodger (“Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”), John Ansell (“Plymouth Hoe”) and other names possibly more familiar to British music lovers than to us. Among the orchestras are those of Paul Whiteman and even the Berlin Philharmonic.

But the main point of this CD is a lesson in living musical history. As singing at the parlor piano gave way to listening to acoustic recordings, the advent of the electric recordings made listening even more pleasurable. No surprise, then, that pieces short enough to be accommodated on one side of a disc were the perfect grist for the record companies’ mills.

So you can enjoy this Guild offering on two levels.


MusicWeb Tuesday June 08 04

No light music enthusiast can afford to ignore this CD. An excellent selection of 1940s light music at its most evocative its age….

This is an excellent compilation of contemporary renderings of British light music of the nineteen-forties. Most of the pieces come from the second half of the decade – and are therefore post-war although being played in a land where rationing and austerity were still the order of the day. It is not necessary to comment on all twenty-three of these evocative numbers. However a few words on, what to me are, the highlights will be appropriate.

The pieces which strike me as most evocative of the age are the ‘impressions’ or miniature tone poems. We have at least a dozen on this recording – all of which show considerable resources of melody, instrumentation and invention.

Edward White’s Runaway Rocking Horse is one of my absolute favourites. If any piece proves that the light music composer was often a superb musical craftsman it is this piece. It is an attractive nod to a toy that most adults remember about their childhood – even if they never actually had one. I can easily imagine the wooden horse cantering off into some romantic English landscape. We hear the little horse playing and then beginning to tire. A last frolic and then, as if by a magic wand, he is back on his wooden frame.

One of the ‘urban tone poems’ that were so popular with light music composers is Jack Brown’s Metropolis. It does not matter if this is Manchester or Manhattan – it has all the hallmarks of a city that does not sleep. Theatreland by Jack Strachey makes us want to get into that black taxi cab or get on the Central Line and head off to where the footlights are blazing and the curtains going up on the very latest musical.

Wagon Lit is a well-loved number by Sidney Torch that gives an impression of a bouncy trip on French Railways. Whether the service was better on the trains in 1947 is a matter of conjecture – but one thing is for sure the post-war, austerity travellers in those days were trailblazing the way to the continent by sleeper; soon the hordes that would follow by jet plane. Of course, another wonderful ‘transport’ image is presented by Clive Richardson’s perfectly scored Melody on the Move. Now I do not know what mode of ‘movement’ he has in mind – but to me it is a jaunt through the Surrey Hills on a lovely summer Saturday. Perhaps we enjoy a brief Woodland Revel with George Melachrino – one of those tunes that seem to have been at the back of my mind all my life.

Ascot Enclosure moves the imagery away from the city to the country and the excitement of a day at the races. It is rather strange that I tend to see all these ‘place’ images in terms of contemporary London Transport Posters.

Another thread throughout this disc is that of arrangement. Now this does not move me in quite the same nostalgic manner as the tone poems. However, all of them are attractive renderings of well known tunes. For example, Ronald Hanmer’s evocative version of the traditional tune Ten Green Bottles shows what can be done without simply repeating the tune – louder. As another reviewer has pointed out – it is not lemon squash or ginger beer that was in the bottles but possibly Boddingtons or Bass. I am not so sure about the arrangement of the Golliwog’s Cakewalk – but I suppose it was for some people their only venture into the world of Claude Debussy. Cole Porter is represented with an ‘end of the pier’ arrangement of ‘Just one of those things’.

One of the features of that long-running BBC series on the ‘Light Programme’ was Friday Night is Music Night. This programme usually had at least one medley from the ‘shows’ or one of their composers. On this disc we have a lovely selection of tunes by Irving Berlin including A Pretty Girl is like a melody and Heat-wave and a medley of film tunes put together by Nicholas Brodszky.

It is not possible to comment on all the performers on this disc. Suffice to say that they are all contemporary with the music; many of the names of the orchestras are enough to give British listeners of a certain age a huge nostalgia trip. A glance at the track-listing above shows a glittering array of light music stars. Some of the works are conducted by the composers themselves and this gives us an opportunity to see how an Eric Coates, David Rose or George Melachrino approached their own music.

The sound quality is excellent, bearing in mind that all these tracks are derived largely from the original 78s. This is a nicely presented CD with some six pages of closely written programme notes.
John France

NOTE (1..) On a personal note I wish to say that I never really bought into the Harold Wilson government’s changes to the BBC Radio network. I cannot forgive them for getting rid of the ‘Pirate’ Radio Stations, especially Radio Scotland and London. I still refer to the Third Programme or the Light Programme in conversation. Call me a Luddite if you will


Review By Jonathan Woolf

Guild’s new Light Music series opened with an Introduction to the genre [review]; the next two move forward decade by decade. The 1940s saw the emergence of a new generation of composers and arrangers; some, like Robert Farnon had cut their teeth on the service bands that proliferated during the War whilst others like Stanley Black had been active as instrumentalists and arrangers in the demi-monde between light music arranging and after hours bottle-club jazz gigs (accompanying tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on record was not the least of Black’s distinctions). Of course the older guard – Eric Coates, Charles Williams, both excellent string players as well as composers – still held their place as did the Palm Court pleasantries of Albert Sandler. But Canadian Robert Farnon and English-born David Rose led the way with a dazzling command of the modern light orchestra and arrangements of versatility and ebullience – as well as exhibiting the necessary ability to concentrate those moments into a four minute span. Radio and the post-war resumption of mass recording fed the enthusiasm for music of this kind and some of the results can be heard here.

Highlights there are a-plenty from the concertante violin part in Sidney Torch’s arrangement of Music in the Air to the pizzicato drive of Charles Williams’s playing of Melody on the Move (the orchestral pizzicato was a feature of David Rose’s arrangements). Geraldo interpolates an atmospheric harp into Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Out of My Dreams whilst Stanley Black spices Linda Chilena with real exotica. Who is the Louis Kaufman-like fiddler player in Morton Gould’s Laura? Rose’s Manhattan Square Dance is a fascinating number – all pizzicato, pluck and brio and perky rhythm with its admixture of Khachaturian and a strongly Anglo-American undercurrent. Runaway Rocking Horse, played by the Orchestre Raymonde under Robert Preston, opens like VW’s Wasps and Woodland Revel comes courtesy of Melachrino’s rippling cascades of string choirs. But it’s Farnon who really stands out; Canadian Caravan has a silken, swaying direction nourished with harp glissandi and high yet vibrant string writing that fully intoxicates. Still, the medium of Light Music is a capacious mansion and welcomes the saucy metropolitan keyboard stuff of Jack Brown as much as Peter Yorke’s updated Elgarianisms. Humour is never far away either and the arrangement of Ten Green Bottles leaves one in no doubt that they have been alcoholically drained – complete with portentous, pompous brass. Haydn Wood’s Roving Fancies is winningly lyrical and delightfully orchestrated whilst Morton Gould is on hand to pull out virtuosic stops on Dancing Tambourine – not as innocently childlike as it sounds.

As these performances show the range of Light Music was considerable and its practitioners and executants of the highest calibre. As the dawning of the LP loomed the procedures were in place for the genre to stake its renewed place after the privations of the War and its immediate aftermath.