Reviews

GLCD 5192 – The Golden Age of Light Music: Stereo Into The Sixties

Various

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MusicWeb International – December 2012

Stereo offered opportunities to display nuance in recordings of Light Music. Novelty effects gradually became passé and bandleaders and arrangers adapted to the new technology avidly. So this was the state of play around 1960 and 1961 when these recording were released onto the market. As ever with this company, in its ever-increasing catalogue, selection has provided some fantastic things, some interesting things and some exotic things.
Busy but grand, big-boned but crippled by modish percussion, Cyril Ornadel gets us underway with Night and Day, closely followed by the dapperly arranged Bidin’ My Time which shows the genre in altogether better fashion: Frederick Fennell, naturally. Clebanoff and his famous strings reveal an impressive rate of movement in a splendid showcase performance of Bobsled, a skittering and joyful opus, outstandingly performed. From ice to heat next in one of Guild’s trademark eyebrow-raising conjunctions, where we move to Italia Mia for some Mediterranean warmth courtesy of Mantovani. This geographical shift incites the brainy archivist at Guild to give us Coney Island next, a lively tone poem courtesy of that flexible aggregation, The Sinfonia of London. This six-minute piece sports a languorous sax solo (who?). Guild isn’t finished with apt conjunctions. There’s a mini occupations theme with Jockey on the Carousel (Morton Gould) followed by Pedro the Fisherman, a snappy little piece.
David Carroll plays Petite Waltz with a rather eccentrically arrayed orchestration: the harpsichord and surrounding business give it a strangely Bal-musette feel. Not unattractive, however. There’s percussion to consider as well, not least when the sonic spectacular that is stereo is involved. There’s a fiesta of bangable and crashable impedimenta in Amparito Roca, with Fennell again leading the way. The Light genre still hadn’t fallen out of love with Rachmaninovian piano interludes; there’s one to start One Eyed Jacks and the famous one in Dream of Olwen, which is played here by Russ Conway. There is rich poetry here too, such as Percy Faith’s handling of Lisa, if I can put it that way, and the comedic is never too far away, witness On The Beach At Waikiki.
As can be seen, variety, variety, variety. I haven’t even mentioned the superb wind playing in Wal-Berg’s Fete Circassienne or the fine Eric Johnson orchestra performing genre maestro Eric Coates’s Mayfair or that Farnon and Rose are both here as well.
Jonathan Woolf

Art Times Journal (Online) – October 2012

STEREO INTO THE 60s I’ve simply run out of ways to introduce yet another entry into the fabled “The Golden Age of Light Music” series that now holds 92 CDs on the Guild Light Music label. Having reproduced just about every monophonic LP from Great Britain, they now have released their latest disc titled “Stereo into the 60s.”
What I appreciate most about this series is hearing pieces for the first time by composers of whom I know nothing. Next, I love to hear orchestral versions of popular songs from Tin Pan Alley, the British equivalent of TPA, and film scores. On this CD, the last category is represented by “Night and day,” “Bidin’ my time,” “What is there to say,” and themes from “One Eyed Jacks,” “Ruby Gentry” and “The Alamo.”
Among the orchestras are those conducted by Cyril Ornadel, Frederick Fennell, Mantovani, David Rose, Morton Gould, and Billy Vaughn. All in all, the perfect disc for casual listening—as are all collections from this Golden Age series.
Frank Behrens

Journal into Melody – Issue No. 192 – June 2012

It says what it is on the CD case and that’s exactly what it delivers, so if stereo is your forte you’re in for a treat, beginning gin “big picture” mode with Cole Porter’s ‘Night and Day’ from the Astaire/Rogers 1934 musical ‘The Gay Divorcee’, originally title ‘Divorcee’. This particular recording is played in fine style by the Starlight Symphony conducted by Cyril Ornadel and arranged by Brian Fahey, followed by George Gerswhin’s ‘Bidin’ My Time’ with Frederick Fennell and his Orchestra. Quite a change from his usual band of musicians, namely the Eastman-Rochester Pops, but quite possibly the same players as they turn up on track 12 with Jaime Texidor’s rousing and well known ‘Amparito Roca’. The listener will quickly realise the strings are very much to the fore on this collection as they were all recorded when stereo was considered the way ahead and with speakers placed well apart. I suppose it was thought it enhanced the Listening experience with the strings coming out of one speaker and, say, the brass emanating from the other. Did it? Anyway, that’s my rant over, back to the disc in hand …. Mantovani and his Orchestra make an appearance with a very pleasing composition of his own, ‘Italia Mia’, and this is followed by Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra playing his own sprightly ‘London Serenade’, which could have come from any mood music publisher’s catalogue. Did it by any chance? Australian composer Don Banks paints a lively picture of ‘Coney Island’ with “brush strokes” by The Sinfonia of London conducted by Douglas Gamley while Jack Shaindlin and his Orchestra play The Carioca featured in a lengthy sequence from ‘Flying Down to Rio’, another Astaire/Rogers film but they weren’t the featured Stars; it was their first pairing and they rated below Dolores del Rio and Gene Raymond. 1 have the soundtrack of this film issued in 1978 on the Sandy Hook Label and on the reverse is the soundtrack of ‘Carefree’. The strange bit about the LP from which Carioca has been taken is it’s called ’50 Years Of Movie Music’ which tries to replicate film music of that period yet it’s been recorded in stereo …. which rather defeats the object I would have thought. Luckily I’ve got the monaural issue. When I saw ‘Jockey an the Carousel’ in the tracks listing I was reminded of Bob Farnon’s composition but this one is by Jerome Kern; it is a more gentler melody but none the less tuneful for that. ‘Pedro The Fisherman’ is given a rousing performance by Johnny Douglas and The Living Strings …. very different from the Richard Tauber version which is usually played – if it’s played at all these days. The music was written by Harry Parr-Davies for the 1943 show ‘The Lisbon Story’ at the London Hippodrome and ran for 492 performances. Ferrante and Teicher make a very good job at two pianos with an unnamed orchestra of the ‘Love Theme from One Eyed Jacks’. The Living Strings make a second appearance, this time conducted by William Hill Bowen with a quirky arrangement of ‘On the Beach At Waikiki’ by the conductor; but the next track was a big surprise although an reflection I don’t know why because he was an excellent pianist: Russ Conway and Michael Collins and his Orchestra play Charles Williams’ ‘Dream of Olwen’ an a Columbia recording. I’m sure Charles Williams would have been highly delighted. A piece more up my street is on track 20, Walberg’s ‘Fete Circassienne’ played by his own orchestra. I don’t know much about him apart from the Info in David’s booklet notes but his name appears several times in the Harmonic/Charles Brull catalogue and I’ve got an LP of his with a Russian theme. A smashing performance of Eric Coates’ gentle waltz ‘Mayfair’ from his ‘London Again Suite’ is played by an orchestra conducted by somebody I’d never heard of, Eric Johnson, on a Westminster LP. But this Guild CD is brought to a fine conclusion with another big picture theme, ‘Away Out West’ from ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ by the unusually named Victor Popular Young played in fine style by Robert Farnon and his Orchestra from an MGM LP of 1960. Another collection of superb light concert music just waiting to be ignored by Britian’s national broadcasting organisation.
Ken Wilkins