GLCD 5225 – The Golden Age of Light Music: More Gems From The 1930s
MusicWeb International – September 2015
Guild has already devoted a disc to ‘revisiting’ recordings from the 1930s, in addition to the inaugural volume of music from that decade. Now, rephrased, we have ‘More Gems’ from the 1930s and that’s often no more than the truth. Some of Europe’s finest Light Music directors are on hand to deliver performance of panache and poetry – and there are some less well-known groups to enliven proceedings and provide intriguing sidelights on a productive decade of studio recording.
Many of the bandleaders, a mélange of European and Russian, had started their careers as precocious classical violinists but, through choice or necessity, had drifted into the popular sphere where work was profitable and plentiful. Dajos Béla was one such example – Kiev-born but with a heady mix of Hungarian and Jewish roots – who made a massive career in Germany before having to flee, eventually ending up in Argentina. It’s another mini-biographical quirk that a number of European artists here suffered a similar fate, leaving the vicious climate of central Europe for South America. Anyone who has ever tried to collate Dajos Béla’s discs will know that he sheltered under a multitude of pseudonyms. Another famous name, near-ubiquitous Barnabas von Géczy, plays Red Devil, a sub-Confrey piece of charming kitsch, with great vigour. The director-less Mayfair Orchestra, by contrast, plays Charles Ancliffe’s Temptation Waltz with perfect Light-Classical manners.
Bertini (christened Bertram Harry Gutsell in 1887) and his Tower Ballroom Blackpool Dance Band unveil Samum – A Classical Fox-Trot which stretched over two sides on a 10” Regal Zonophone. A leading example of a woman violin-leader who was flexible enough to record the classical and the light repertoires was Edith Lorand, another Hungarian-Jewish musician. Golden Kisses is a bit of a soppy waltz but it’s good to be reminded of her band’s finesse. Don’t overlook Gershom Parkington’s Octet, frequent BBC broadcasters, as their discs in this Guild series are very rare. I know he was for a while a part of JH Squire’s Octet and he modelled his little ensemble on those lines. There’s a bigger band in the next track, courtesy of nothing less than the mighty Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Eduard Künneke in his own Intermezzo from his Dance Suite.
These are some of the many pleasurable moments to be heard in this disc. Add to them the genially zany Sefira from the Elite Novelty Orchestra, a dose of the great Marek Weber, whose own insinuating violin solo graces his contribution, and other luminaries such as Ferdy Kauffman and Eugene and you have a well-stocked survey of a decade’s worth of versatile and personable music-making.
Two things before ending: firstly, my own favourite band is here – Georges Boulanger and his Orchestra, which is recommendation in itself – and second, that David Ades’ booklet notes are as good as ever. On that last point I read, very recently, of Ades’s death which occurred last year and would like to add my own very small note of gratitude for all that he contributed to making this such a valuable and instructive series.