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Mantovani By Special Request, Volume 2
Reg H. CASSON Castiliana
Gus KAHN (1886-1941), Victor SCHERTZINGER (b. 1880) One Night of Love
Frank CHURCHILL (1901-1942), Larry MOREY Love Is A Song
Pedro MANILLA (alias MANTOVANI) (1905-1980) Mexican Starlight
Charles W. ANCLIFFE (1880-1952) Nights Of Gladness
Spanish Cocktail:
Pasqual MARQUINA– Spanish Gypsy Dance; Pedro MANILLA (alias MANTOVANI) (1905-1980) Adios Conchita; trad. A Girl Like You
David ROSE (1910-1990) Our Waltz
Ronald BINGE (1910-1979) Siesta a Rumba Serenade
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907), arr. Robert WRIGHT (b. 1914), George FORREST (b. 1915) Song of Norway, selection.
Feelix GODIN (1864-1925)– Valse Septembre
Juan LLOSSAS (1900-1957) Tango Bolero
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919) arr. Sammy KAYE Tell Me You Love Me
Jeno HUBAY (1858-1937) Hejre Kati
Martin Vicente DARRE (b. 1916) Gipsy Trumpeter
MANTOVANI (1905-1980) In Waltz Time
Sebastian de YRADIER (1809-1865) La Paloma
L. CONALD Oh Mama Mama
Richard ADDINSELL (1904-1977) One Magic Wish (On An Evening Star)
Reg H. CASSON The Spirit Of The Matador
Pedro MANILLA (alias MANTOVANI) (1905-1980) Tango De La Luna
Bernard PHELPS The Choristers
Donald PHILLIPS (1913-1994) Concerto in Jazz
Mantovani and his Orchestra
Recorded 1940 – 1951
GUILD GLCD 5113 [76.50]

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Mantovani was the son of a violinist at La Scala Milan. Mantovani senior seems to have come to England with an Italian opera company and stayed. Young Annunzio Paolo Mantovani studied the violin at Trinity College and played the Bruch Concerto No. 1 at the age of 16. But, like many musicians at the time, he found employment with a Palm Court Orchestra; thanks to his training he became proficient at composing and arranging. He started recording in the 1930s, specialising in Latin American styles of dance music. His repertoire gradually expanded to include more concert-style light music, eventually developing to his large orchestra with its string-led sound which made him famous in the 1950s. This famous, Mantovani sound, with its cascading strings was invented by the arranger Ronald Binge, who had worked with Mantovani on arrangements since 1935.

This disc of recordings by Mantovani and his various orchestras covers the years 1940 to 1951 and is the second in a series on Guild; many of the tracks have been requested by admirers. The disc concentrates on lesser-known recordings and succeeds in giving a picture of Mantovani which is a little different to the Mantovani that I remember from the radio programmes of my childhood.

The disc opens with Reg Casson’s Castiliana, a recording first issued on the Decca ‘Music While You Work’ label, capitalising on the popularity of the radio programme of the same name. A charmingly Spanish piece, the performance is a little frayed at the edges, an indication of its war-time date. The other side of the original disc featured Casson’s The Spirit of the Matador which crops up later on the present disc.

Spanish and Latin-American music makes up a significant proportion of the disc. The infectiously lyrical Mexican Starlight is credited to Pedro Manilla, one of Mantovani’s aliases. Mantovani also wrote Tango De La Luna which features a very rich string sound. His Adios Conchita features in an attractive Spanish Cocktail which dates from 1942.

A number of pieces on the disc feature very strong, string led sounds, prefiguring the cascading strings of 1951. Gus Kahn and Victor Schertzinger’s One Night of Love is one such, though the boxy 1949 recording does not do it justice. The piece was originally written for the 1934 film of the same name, featuring Grace Moore.

The full Mantovani sound is found, rather oddly, on a distinctive arrangement of ‘On With the Motley’ from ‘Pagliacci’, re-titled Tell me You Love me; one of those pieces where the brilliance of the execution and the style of the arrangement sits oddly with the original material. Another one of these is the selection from Song of Norway where the original Grieg gets a little lost under the layers of the various arrangers (Robert Wright and George Forrest arranged the original Broadway show, the arranger for Mantovani’s orchestra is not credited).

Ronald Binge was the arranger of Night’s of Gladness by Charles Ancliffe; the arrangement allows the orchestra to let their hair down and features all sorts of novelties such as xylophone, tubular bells and a brief snatch of an electronic organ, which the sleeve-notes say could be credited to Binge himself on a Novachord.

The violin soloist in Jeno Hubay’s Hejre Kati is not known, but at the time the recording was made (1950), the string section included both Max Jaffa and Sidney Bowman. Gipsy Trumpeter by Martin Vicente Darre features a fine trumpet solo from Stan Newsome, Mantovani’s lead trumpeter from 1947 to 1959.

The disc concludes with Donald Phillips’s Concerto in Jazz a charming, sub-Gershwin piece featuring the piano skills of Arthur Young.

This is a fascinating disc as it gives us an opportunity to appreciate the wider aspects of Mantovani’s art. If you already possess recordings of his best known numbers then you should consider this disc.

Robert Hugill

see also review by Jonathan Woolf

see review of Volume 1

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