This fourth compilation, in Hyperion’s hugely successful
British light music is another winner. Here are another nineteen sunny,
foot-tapping melodic gems; music most of us know by tune if not by name.
The most significant inclusion is Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s
lovely full four-movement Petite Suite de Concert in a really
beguiling realisation by Corp’s New London Orchestra. The opening ‘La
caprice de Nanette’ charmingly mixes the coquettish with feminine flutter
and daintiness. The second most familiar movement, the dreamily romantic
‘Demande et Réponse’ proved to be so popular that it was ultimately
arranged as a song. The final movements, ‘Un sonnet d’amour’ and ‘Tarantelle
frétillante’ do not have the same appeal and frankly form a disappointing
ending to the album.
Many of the pieces come from composers who worked in
radio and films. Indeed Eric Coates’s ‘By the Sleepy Lagoon’ (inspired
not by some Pacific Island but by a seaside view in West Sussex) is
still used to introduce BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs.
Charles Williams who worked on over a hundred British films and wrote
‘The Devil’s Gallop’ for BBC Radio’s Dick Barton Special Agent,
is represented here by his catchy and evocative ‘Rhythm on the Rails’
and his gentle, pastoral ‘A Quiet Stroll’. Jack Beaver was also a member
of the Gaumont-British Pictures composing team and we hear his march
‘Cavalcade of Youth’, a stirring mix of Elgarian and Waltonesque influences.
Arthur Benjamin also enjoyed a successful career writing for the silver
screen and included is his most popular composition, ‘Jamaican Rumba’.
One of the earliest contributors to the cinema was Albert W. Ketèlbey
whose extravagant music often accompanied silent films. His sentimental
but colourful, ‘In a Monastery Garden’ (complete with sugary male voices)
The collection commences with Marshall Ross’s jaunty
‘Marching Strings’ and Peter Hope’s trotting rhythms underpinning his
wistful ‘Jaunting Car’ from The Ring of Kerry. Of the other works
I would especially mention the imposing ‘The Doge’s March’ from Frederick
Rosse’s The Merchant of Venice, Frederic Curzon’s mischievous
‘Dance of an Ostracised Imp’ and the John Fould’s hauntingly beautiful
‘Keltic Lament’ (a real find from an unjustly neglected British composer).
Some eighty minutes of sheer delight, familiar light
pieces known by their tunes if not by their titles – a real tonic. Played
with charm and verve by Corp’s New London Orchestra.