Reviews

GLCD 5181 – The Golden Age of Light Music: The Lost Transcriptions – Vol. 2

Various

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ART Times Frank Behrens April/May 2012

As I have been writing for years, Guild Light Music has been releasing a seemingly endless series of CDs under the main title of “The Golden Age of Light Music.” They are now up to the 81st entry and it is a most unusual one. It is the second departure from the past compilations of commercial mono and stereo recordings of the late 40s to the middle 50s.
“The Lost Transcriptions, Volume 1” (which I reviewed in 2011) and now Volume 2 consist of recordings that were never meant to be sold to the public. As the excellent program notes tell us, musical selections were transcribed onto 7-inch and 12-inch 78 rpm discs as well as 16-inch discs that played at 33 1/3 rpm. They were sent to the troops all over the world to be played in barracks or over PA systems for the whole camp to hear.
(It is said that the Germans close enough to hear would wait for Bing Crosby, because he sounded like a German baritone. They affectionately called him Der Bingle!)
The sound is not bad, given the dates (from 1943 to 1955); and these selections are a good mix of the familiar and unfamiliar. The 25 selections in Volume 2 feature the orchestras of Percy Faith, Mantovani, and Sidney Torch.
Many of the songs come from stage and screen musicals: “Falling in love with love,” “In the still of the night,” “Why do I love you?” and “Dearly beloved.” Less familiar pieces include “Imp on Broadway,” “Jamaican juggler,” “Snakes and ladders,” and “Rhapsody in rhythm.”
As the notes inform us, all of these discs were to be destroyed after hostilities, but many servicemen took one or more home as souvenirs. It is from these surviving copies that Guild has gathered its material for this historically and musically interesting collection. Note: Vol. 3 has been issued since I wrote the above and will be included in my June reports.

BRATTLEBORO REFORMER February 2012

Lost Transcriptions 2 — As I have been writing for years, Guild Light Music has been releasing a seemingly endless series of CDs under the main title of “The Golden Age of Light Music.” They are now up to the 81st entry, and it is a most unusual one. It is the second departure from the past compilations of commercial mono and stereo recordings of the late-’40s to the middle-’50s.
“The Lost Transcriptions, Volume 1” (which I reviewed in 2011) and now Volume 2 consist of recordings that were never meant to be sold to the public. As the excellent program notes tell us, musical selections were transcribed onto 7-inch and 12-inch 78 rpm discs as well as 16-inch discs that played at 33 1/3 rpm. They were sent to the troops all over the world to be played in barracks or over PA systems for the whole camp to hear. (It is said that the Germans close enough to hear would wait for Bing Crosby, because he sounded like a German baritone. They affectionately called him Der Bingle!). 

The sound is not bad, given the dates (from 1943 to 1955); and these selections are a good mix of the familiar and unfamiliar. The 25 selections in Volume 2 feature the orchestras of Percy Faith, Mantovani, and Sidney Torch.

Many of the songs come from stage and screen musicals: “Falling in Love with Love,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Why Do I Love You?” and “Dearly Beloved.” Less familiar pieces include “Imp on Broadway,” “Jamaican Juggler,” “Snakes and Ladders” and “Rhapsody in Rhythm.”
As the notes inform us, all of these discs were to be destroyed after hostilities, but many servicemen took one or more home as souvenirs. It is from these surviving copies that Guild has gathered its material for this historically and musically interesting collection. 

It is a lot of fun too. And one should actually purchase both volumes for fuller enjoyment of recordings never meant to be heard.
Frank Behrens


MusicWeb International August 2011

In this disc the focus of ‘Lost Transcriptions’ – of which this is the second volume – becomes tighter. There are three featured conductors; Percy Faith, Mantovani and Sidney Torch. And the transcriptions derive from material used by broadcasting companies, either recorded broadcasts, or ones that were specially recorded and shipped out to forces overseas, but not on a commercial basis. All of the Percy Faith sides are Voice of America transcriptions dating from 1947 to around the mid-1950s. There is more variety in the origins of the British material.
Naturally these three musicians were the cat’s pyjamas of the genre. Faith and Farnon were Canada’s two leading Light Music maestros and here we can concentrate on Faith, who unveils one classic arrangement after another – unlike Mantovani, who had Binge, Faith did all his own arranging. Things are characteristically lush and luscious in Falling in Love with Love but even this is outdone by his work on The Very Thought Of You which moves from searing to pert. I don’t happen much to like it, but I can at least stand back and admire what he wants to do with it. Despite some of the rough treatment they must have received, over inhospitable terrain too, most of these discs have survived in good nick, and have been restored well. Little, I suppose, could be done with some of the thumps on Why Do I Love You – though they pass soon enough. Listen out for an insouciant Morton Gould piece called Pavanne and also to Duke Ellington who solos on his own Night Creature, a swinging affair with nightmarish elements. This garish quality is cleverly counter-pointed by the following piece, the spooky slow movement of Elie Siegmeister’s Clarinet Concerto, played by Vincent J. Abato, which is itself rather Ellingtonian. Fortunately, Copland’s Hoedown from Rodeo banishes all this in a blaze of open air high spirits.
From Faith to Mantovani, whose selection is a little less sophisticated. Together Mantovani and Ronald Binge masqueraded as composer ‘Abner C. Rosen’ for Imp On Broadway – probably the better to convince the listening world that this very Gershwinesque opus was the genuine article. But we’re on home turf for, yes, Coronation Scot, orchestrated with élan and brilliance by Binge and recorded for Lang-Worth Feature Programmes transcription in 1952. There’s the usual cod-devilment and picture postcard piece and a delicious Binge piece called Snakes and Ladders, before we pass on to Sidney Torch who conducts his own orchestra as well as The Cavalcade Orchestra and the RAF Concert Orchestra. His own Barbecue is peppy with languid interludes, whilst Amore Mio is briskly passionate; I suspect Torch made love at a regimental march tempo. The only war-time cut is the RAF one of Eric Coates’s Wood Nymphs, who also enjoy Torch’s fast tempi.
It was a nice idea to select just these three musicians and to allow them room to breathe on disc. As ever, the notes are a class act.
Jonathan Woolf
In this disc the focus of ‘Lost Transcriptions’ becomes tighter with three featured conductors; Percy Faith, Mantovani and Sidney Torch.