Reviews

GLCD 5228 – The Golden Age of Light Music: British Cinema & Theatre Orchestras – Vol. 4

Various Artists

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MusicWeb International – October 2015

Operetta, waltzes, genial marches and Arcadian melodies are part and parcel of this delightful latest release in Guild’s series devoted to British cinema and theatre orchestras. The recordings date, in the main, to the 1920s and early 1930s.
The record labels tell their own stories as, in addition to the expected HMVs, Columbias and Parlophones we get the cheaper label Edison Bell Winners and a 1945 Decca sneaks in courtesy of Reginald Burston whose fine London Coliseum Orchestra plays Eric Coates’ Wood Nymphs. There’s sheer charm in Joseph Muscant’s performance of Kisses in the Dark and an old friend in Ketèlbey’s The Illuminated Fete, played by the London Palladium Orchestra under the benign but highly musical baton of Clifford Greenwood. It’s amusing to hear organist Harry Davidson pumping away in The Gypsy Princess – Muscant directs again – though Frank Westfield can stretch out over two sides of a 78 on the selection from Our Miss Gibbs where he leads the Prince of Wales, Lewisham, Playhouse Orchestra – lucky Lewisham to have such a good pit band. It’s one of the salutary reminders of this series that so many cinema and theatre orchestras existed at the time.
I wonder if there was a domestic release of the selection from Louis Ganne’s Les Saltimbanques, or whether this disc, made by Emanuel Starkey and the Regal Cinema Orchestra, was for export only, as it comes from a French Columbia recorded in c. 1930. One encounters Harry Davidson again inThe Gypsy Baron where he quivers away merrily. One of the most intriguing of the selections is The Voice of the Bells – An Alpine Fantasy by T.W. Thurber. This grandiosely titled opus sports some Wagnerian elements, along with a mountain storm, packed into its six minutes. Horace Sheldon (born Catcheside) directs and the notes suggest that the Palladium’s organist, none other than Reginald Foort, is playing.
Joseph Muscant reappears, this time on a Regal Zonophone, for a lurching Swabian Peasant Waltz – rather suggestive of too much alcoholic intake on the Swabians’ part from the sound of it, although the cuckoo is nice. It’s probably difficult now to imagine quite how famous David de Groot was and he is rightly here playing a waltz with his New Victoria Orchestra.
The excellent notes are the work of David Ades and Alan Bunting.
There is something for everyone who likes light music of this period – waltzes, yes, but potpourri and selections from shows, lots of grand bands, famous directors, fine organists and good tunes.
Jonathan Woolf