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British Light Music Classics Vol 3

New London Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp
Hyperion CDA67148 [78:45]

Includes: Portrait of a Flirt; In a Persian Market; Montmartre, In Party Mood; Theatreland; Rediffusion March, Miss Melanie; On a Spring note; Melody on the Move; Little Serenade; Woodland Revel; Soldiers in the Park; In Party Mood; Valse Septembre

Hyperion's first two volumes in this series were outstandingly successful and helped to restore light music to popularity and to introduce the genre to younger audiences who never enjoyed pre-television radio entertainment. Volumes 1 and 2 in the series were followed with an album of American Light Music Classics and another of European Light music Classics.

I have to say that I was somewhat disheartened about the playing of some of the pieces on the first two volumes; I remember being concerned about slow tempi and lack of sparkle. This latest volume shows much improvement and I am nearly convinced but not quite You see I cannot forget the intense joie de vivre with which these pieces were played in the old days on the radio. You were really carried away with an incredible sense of joyousness. Perhaps it is because Corp's young players never really had the chance to appreciate that style of playing which may well be lost? Perhaps the spontaneity of a live performance is missing? Take Haydn Wood's Montmartre, which opens the programme, for instance the tempi are OK, the characterisation is splendid but half way through it tends to sag a bit. The old zest seems to be missing. Personally, I think it's a matter of articulation. The same comment is applicable to the concluding number if you have heard Eric Coates conducting his own Rediffusion March you will know what I mean.

Now lest I deter you, I hasten to add that performances are generally very good throughout and there is much to enjoy in this collection. As before, in Volumes 1 and 2, many of these tunes will be easily recognised, if not by name. A number were associated with films and radio programmes. Sidney Torch's jolly and exuberant, On A Spring Note performed here with commendable vigour and panache was used in the cinema for Pathé Gazette; and the perky In Party Mood introduced BBC Light Programme's 'Housewives' Choice'. And Clive Richardson's breezy, tuneful Melody on the Move with it quirky vibraphone figures, gave its name to a radio series. One of the album's delights is Ronald Binge's delicate, fun-loving and thoroughly charming Miss Melanie with its very distinctive string figures and quirky rhythms. So too is Robert Farnon's sparkling, skittish Portrait of a Flirt, which I seem to remember being used quite often as source music for films. Jack Strachey's zestful Theatreland has all its associated glitter and glamour while Harry Dexter's evocative Siciliano has a laid back rural charm, and Vivian Ellis' Alpine Pastures is just as carefree with its yodellings and perhaps, flirtings of shepherd and dairy-maid. One must not forget the plaintive charm of Ernest Tomlinson's lovely, fragile Little Serenade

Old fashioned Victorian/Edwardian charm is served up in two or three numbers like Godin's sentimental Valse Septembre which was featured in the film Titanic, and Ivan Carlisle's elegant and nostalgically romantic, but rather proper Pink Lady Waltz. Albert Ketèlbey's In A Persian Market has a colourful and evocative rendering with added choir but Corp just misses capturing that je ne sai quoi of Ketèlbey that Lanchbery so magically captured in his 1977 recording with the Philharmonia.

Very entertaining and a confident recommendation


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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