Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:


London Salon Ensemble.
MERIDIAN CDE 84416/CDE 84361 2 CDs

The London Salon Ensemble comprises three violins, cello, double bass, piano, harmonium/celesta/percussion (one player) and accordion, a fairly typical formation in light music's palmy days. The stylish playing does much to evoke that period and the recording and presentation (the notes are excellent) are first-rate.

These discs offer respectively popular-classics and classic light music. "The classic-salon" - the more recent (September 1999) disc has the popular classics: Mozart, Elgar, Mussorgsky, Mendelssohn, Mascagni, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius etc - with just one or two tracks less popular than the rest, like Arensky's enjoyable Intermezzo.

The young soprano Charlotte Page, clear in delivery, contributes four songs ranging from Gounod's deliciously corny O Divine Redeemer to Richard Strauss. Of the "classic" composers" only Elgar is British, but one or two of the arrangers we can claim as ours. John Foulds, Frederick Charrosin (compiler of a selection of Brahms Hungarian Dances here) and Lars Payne, the LSE's cellist and guiding light.

Foulds and Charrosin appear "in their own right" in "The Art Deco Café" (1998) which is light music, café music indeed. About half its 17 tracks are German, with Gerhard Winkler's Scandinavian Express and the French-flavoured Toulouse outstanding for me; seven are by British composers, by birth or adoption. Isy Geyer's Roumanian Gypsy Dance is rather commonplace, but Charrosin's Snowflake, with its celeste solo, is redolent of Billy Mayerl. I also enjoy Coates' instrumental version of his Bird Songs at Eventide and Bert Marland's busy piano feature, Piccadilly Prelude, while Archibald Joyce's waltz Phantom Of Salome happily does not duplicate his Marco Polo CD (8.223694). Foulds' Kashmiri Boat Song, with its Eastern colour, is a real find, while Percy Fletcher's Reconciliation, which reminds one forcefully of the adorable Rosamund movement from Quilter's Where the Rainbow Ends suite, is delicious.


Phil Scowcroft


Phil Scowcroft

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