GLCD 5167 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Strings In Rhythm
MusicWeb International Monday September 06 2010
A good cross-section of entertaining tunes, adeptly arranged, and played by first class orchestras.
If there’s a company that does more for Light Music than Guild then I’ve never come across it. The discs emerge forged from the Vulcan’s Forge of their endeavour, and quite a few end up on my desk. This latest doesn’t differ markedly from the others – a good cross-section of entertaining tunes, adeptly arranged by leading practitioners, and played by first class orchestras; that’s the determining series of factors.
It’s good therefore to hear the gutsy and unambiguous strains of Percy Faith essaying Victor Herbert’s Habanera, and equally so to encounter Frank Chacksfield and his snappily voiced Swinging on a Star in this Roland Shaw arrangement. Tempos and moods are cannily varied throughout the run of twenty-eight tracks, which allows, for instance, an evocative In the Heat of the Day. Greenwich Village, written by J George Johnson and played by the New World Theatre Orchestra, gets a rather blowsy work-out; the alto sax solo could do with a bit of Benny Carter, and the big chordal piano and full production work tends to grate.
No one yields to me in admiration for the great fiddle-leader Georges Boulanger and his own recordings have given me huge pleasure over the years. The poor man assuredly wouldn’t have liked what Hans Georg Arlt and his merry band of Teutons do to Da Capo. This is the kind of recording for which sea sickness tablets were invented. A phalanx of percussionists does their worst – but at least the fiddles are divided left and right,which is the least one expects given that the leader had been a pupil of that eminent violinist Max Strub.
By immediate contrast we have the alternately garish and then, much better, refined orchestration by Paul Weston who essays Kern’s In Love In Vain. Norrie Paramor and the boys knock out some cod Italiana in Sunset on the Tiber and Carmen Dragon (crazy name, crazy guy) gives us a spirited La Cumparista. These dance-patterned numbers exert quite a spell even when things are just too Technicolor for optimum pleasure. One can luxuriate in Hal Mooney’s succulent strings, indulge in the big vibrato of Helmut Zacharias and his Magic Violins, overlook the bongos in Geoff Love’s You Are My Heart’s Delight (not very Tauber), and guffaw at the pure corn served up by Monty Kelly in Neapolitan Nites Mambo. There’s a tango accordion in Ray Martin’s appropriately punning Tango of Regret and a sassy version of I Got Rhythm by Kostelanetz. Farnon goes for the whizz bang in the last track, Strauss’s Fireworks Polka in Farnon’s own arrangement and with his own band – but credited to the ‘Jack Saunders Orchestra’ on the label.
The booklet notes are, as ever, assured; the sound in these 1953-59 recordings attractive.
Memory Lane Autumn 2010-08-13
Two more CDs in the Guild `Golden Age of Light Music’ series have been released and they maintain the standard of excellence that we have come to expect. Strings in Rhythm (GLCD 5167) starts off with a lively version of Habanera from the Percy Faith orchestra and concludes in explosive style with Robert Farnon’s version of Fireworks Polka. The other 26 tracks, most of which have a Latin American flavour, are all delightful, with Gordon Jenkins, Norrie Paramor, Carmen Dragon, Nelson Riddle and their respective orchestras all in particularly good form. There are fewer tracks on BritishCinema & Theatre Orchestras – Vol.3 (GLCD 5168) but we still get 79 minutes of pleasurable listening. The London Palladium Orchestra is much to the fore, firstly under Clifford Greenwood with Palladium Memories, and subsequently with three separate tracks where the baton is wielded by Richard Crean. The redoubtable Joseph Muscant trumps that with his Commodore Grand Orchestra including, appropriately, an excellent rendition of Perfection.
Journal into Melody – June 2010
STRINGS IN RHYTHM For full tracklisting please See Page 64 of this issue Guild GLCD 5167 [T7:57] I thought this sounded a good collective title for this Guild release and it certainly begins with a fiery opening courtesy of Percy Faith and his Orchestra and Victor Herbert’s Habanera from `Natoma’ – a cracking start. Frank Chacksfield and his Orchestra follow with a fine arrangement by Roland Shaw of Swinging on a Star. If you only remember Victor Silvester’s stritt tempo dance style, his Silver Strings make a really super job of Cole Porter’s You do Something to Me an track three, followed by Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra with his own composition In the Heat of the Day. There are names that crop up on these Guild Light Music releases that I’m afraid I’ve never heard of and the next two are prime examples of my ignorante: J. George Johnson whose composition Greenwich Village is played by the New World Theatre Orchestra, and Eros Sciorilli. His lively tuneful piece, La Colpa Fu, is played by the Orchestra of the 6th San Remo Festival conducted by George Melachrino. Brass and piano vie with the Strings of the Philip Green Orchestra in a relaxing version of In a Sentimental Mood; however, the mood changes abruptly with Georges Boulanger’s Da Capo, in a spirited performance by Hans Georg Arlt and his Orchestra – it really sets the pulses racing. Paul Weston and his Orchestra play In Love in Vain by Jerome Kern from the 1946 Technicolor film Centennial Summer, starring Jeanne Crain and Cornel Wilde, “a pleasing family comedy with music” according to Halliwell. Noel Coward’s well known Poor Little Rich Girl, in an arrangement by Peter Yorke and played by his Orchestra, is next; but this is followed by a not so well known piece, Sunset on the Tiber, by Dave Dexter (and here’s another example of my ignorance) neither of which I’ve heard of, but the music is a nice catchy piece played in a very smooth manner by Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra, from 1959. While listening to Carmen Dragon and the Capitol Symphony Orchestra playing La Cumporsita, I noticed in the play list Neapolitan Nights Mambo, played by Monty Kelly and his Orchestra, one of the composers being Zamecnik, a name that crops up frequently in early recorded mood music. So I was rather interested to read more about him and to discover John Stepan Zamecnik had written over 2,000 compositions, mainly for the Sam Fox Co. during his lifetime, 1872 to 1953. This particular number was used as the theme music for a silent film, “Fazil” (1925). Pepe Gonzalez and his Orchestra set the feet a-tapping with a spirited performance of La Cucaracha on a Brunswick disc of 1957 as does Otto Cesana with his own piece Let’s Beguine on a Columbia recording of two years earlier. Wonderful sound recording from that era, enhanced by Alan Bunting’s magical touch. Dolf van der Linden and his Orchestra (as Van Lynn) with a delicate piece by Joseph Francois Heyne La Petite Gavotte, is on track twenty two. Would they be the same players who formed the Metropole Orchestra and also recorded for the Paxton Library? Werner Muller and his Orchestra (as Ricardo Santos and his Tango Orchestra) bring this fine collection of light music almost to a close with Jacob Gade’s Glamour-Tango, a worthy successor to his Jealousy. Lastly, the Fireworks Polka by Johann Strauss arranged by Robert Farnon (on the Label, Jack Saunders) and played by his Orchestra. As the orchestra struck up I thought we were in for The Loveliest Night of the Year, then the fireworks really began. It wouldn’t have been out of place in a New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna. Great stuff!