Reviews

GLCD 5169 – The Golden Age of Light Music: A first A-Z of Light Music

Various

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MusicWeb International Monday August 02 2010

They keep making them this good

For some, light music is the colourful and delightful orchestration of a well known popular or show tune. For others, myself included, light music is the well formed orchestral miniature of three or four minutes duration, usually, but not always, in a bright and breezy style. Whatever your likes in light music this disk has something for everyone.
Starting with Vivian Ellis’ s delightful Alpine Pastures – well known as the signature tune for the long running BBC Radio panel game My Word – in a racy arrangement by Sidney Torch, the magical touch is continued with David Rose’s The Christmas Tree – this series has, I imagine, introduced many people to a lot of Rose’s work previously unknown to them.
I am especially happy that pieces like Joyce Cochrane’s Flowing Stream – as lovely a piece of Englishness as could be – have been included, and to follow it with King Palmer’s jaunty Going Concern – here’s a business unaffected by the recession – and Eric Coates’s march High Flight – a title new to me – makes a nice three piece suite of genuine Englishness.
John Scott Trotter’s Escape To Monaco would, more correctly, be called Escape to Morocco for it has a sultry elegance (as well as a passing mention of the great Cole Porter song In the Still of the Night) which I doubt can be found in Europe! Henry Croudson’s Jump For Joy is a real pleasure, and even if no one is jumping too high there is much joy here.
Sherman Myers’s Moonlight On The Ganges is as much about the Ganges as Trotter’s Escape To Monaco is about Monaco. It’s a lovely nocturne, mind you, with some delightful writing for French Horns. Jose Belmonte’s The Kiss is a passionate tango – and I suspect that the kiss was hot – with a prominent part for accordion, thus some Frenchness is injected into the mix. Fascinating. Hal Mooney’s Leo starts as if it’s going to introduce some 1950s TV cop show but quickly turns into a light romp. This is one of the many highlights of this disk. Joseph F Kuhn’s Noche Amour is another tropical romance, José Armandola’s Rose–Beetle Goes A–Wooing is a marvellous piece of whimsy in the manner of Ernest Bucalossi’s The Grasshopper’s Dance, but without the same number of legs, and with lots of the music hall in it.
Jack Coles’ Sunshine Express is the fast-track cousin of Ellis’s Coronation Scot. Jeff Alexander’s Yellow was written for a concept album recorded by Sinatra’s own label when it opened for business, and it starts and ends as a sort of celebration of a child’s tune but has a more serious middle section. The disk ends with Cécile Chaminade’s Zingara in a nicely conceived arrangement which has all the colour and vivacity necessary for a piece with this name. My favourite amongst the orchestral items is Percy Fletcher’s Vanity Fair, a breezy piece in the John Ansell mould. Great stuff! Of the songs, Baubles, Bangles And Beads is full of eastern promise, Over The Rainbow has the requisite amount of yearning to it, Robert Farnon’s sensitive arrangement of It Wouldn’t Be Love is a subtle piece, but the best of this bunch is Vernon Duke’s What Is There To Say, made all the more memorable by a great performance by Morton Gould and his Orchestra.
I, again, find myself marvelling at Guild’s choice of repertoire, and this idea of an A–Z is a good one for it will make for even more varied programmes in future issues. As usual the sound is very good, the notes helpful and the whole package attractive. How many more times can I say that this is another success for Guild’s Light Music series? As long as they keep making them this good!
Bob Briggs


MusicWeb International Thursday July 22 2010

Another full to brim disc encapsulates a wide variety of music from the Light genre, in good style

The rationale here is a sequential one, A-Z, starting with A for Alpine Pastures and ending with Z for Zingara. Imagine call-signs recalibrated to Light Music tastes; instead of Foxtrot Golf we’d have Flowing Stream Going Concern. Might be more entertaining after a few drinks.

Guild has been reduced to alphabetising its wares after having pursued every creative rabbit down its hole, every compilatory bat to its roosting nook and cranny. This indefatigable outfit has now turned to the building blocks of language to sell its product.

There are a number of sprightly favourites on show, not least Alpine Pastures itself, a Vivian Ellis song played by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra under Sidney Torch. An ultra romantic Baubles, Bangles And Beads follows, courtesy of Warren Barker. The Christmas Tree was a U.S TV perennial and it’s played with familiar artistry by one of the maestri di maestri of the genre, David Rose. There is some rather kitschy percussion – a volatile and occasionally besetting sin of this genre in the late 50s especially – in Durch Dich Wird Diese Welt Erst Schön, played by Hans Georg Arlt, a very on/off director as far as I’m concerned.

John Scott Trotter’s Escape To Monaco doesn’t entirely escape censure, if I can put it that way, being rather corny in places too. To compensate we have King Palmer’s Going Concern, a genial offering. Michael Freedman and his orchestra essay Eric Coates’s splendid High Flight, a sprightly march, in good style. Freedman had been a very capable violinist, playing in the Philharmonia in the 1950s, before gradually moving away from music. He ended up driving a cab. A sumptuous reverie appears when Farnon plays It Wouldn’t Be Love whilst there’s a taut, percussion-heavy tango at work in The Kiss (Angela Morley’s band – the song is by Philip Green, masquerading as the olive skinned lothario Jose Belmonte).

Veering from a ‘Saharan’ march to skittishness is the slightly weird Leo, written by Hal Mooney who plays it with his own band. Moonlight on the Ganges is a moody little number that gets the Gordon Jenkins treatment. Let’s forget Noche Amour as paraded by The Rio Carnival Orchestra – ugh! It might seem superfluous to have yet another version of Over The Rainbow – how many times can one listen to this in a rational life? – but if there is to be yet another time let it be mediated by Frank Chacksfield and his crack bunch of musos. There’s a pre-War track in the shape of Rose-Beetle Goes A-Wooing played by the Regent Classic Orchestra for Bosworth in 1938, and delightful it is too, if inconsequential. Who were the Group-Forty Orchestra, under Eric Cook, who play Sunshine Express?

Ronald Binge turns up with a saucy arrangement of Tip-Toe Through The Tulips and that estimable bandleader Jay Wilbur appears in a 1946 recording of Percy Fletcher’s quite Elgarian Vanity Fair overture. Sinatra, no less, conducts Yellow, by Jeff Alexander, from an album of all Sinatra-directed tunes from 1956. Finally we have Zingara written by the exceptional French pianist Cécile Chaminade and arranged by Arthur Wilkinson. Her Paris 78s cost a packet.

Another full to brim disc, then, encapsulates a wide variety of music from the Light genre, in good style.
Jonathan Woolf