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Albert KETÈLBEY (1875-1959)
Historic Recordings 1908-1940

Cockney Suite (1924) (recorded 1929): A State Procession (Buckingham Palace); The Cockney Lover (Lambeth Walk); At The Palais de Danse (Anywhere); Elegy (Thoughts on Passing the Cenotaph); Bank Holiday (’Appy ‘Ampstead)
Gallantry (1921) (recorded 1940)
I Call You From The Shadows (1912) (recorded 1912)
Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind (1898) (recorded 1923)
In A Camp Of The Ancient Britains (1925) (recorded 1929)
A Musical Jigsaw (1923) (recorded 1923)
Danse à la tarantella (1898) (recorded 1909)
Mind The Slide (1916) (recorded 1916)
Jungle Drums (1926) (recorded 1929)
Aberfoyle (1900) (recorded 1908)
Fiddle Fun (1915) (recorded 1915)
A Desert Romance (1923) (recorded 1923)
Sunset Glow (1921) (recorded ?)
With Honour Crowned (1935) (recorded 1936)
Orchestras conducted by Albert Ketèlbey
All tracks recorded between 1908 and 1940
Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Peter Dempsey
NAXOS 8.110869 [70:58]

Here’s another album, full of period charm, of lesser known Ketèlbey pieces all recorded in the early years of the 20th century. Much of this music was played to accompany silent films. Indeed one of them, the evocative, A Desert Romance, was used to accompany the film The Great Sahara! Elsewhere you can just imagine a 1920s silent melodrama heroine pleading, sighing and wringing her hands to the drama and sentimentality of Gallantry and I Call You From the Shadows while moustache-twiddling, leering villains can be imagined when listening to Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind (and never darken my doorstep again!). One may also visualise cinema audiences hearing another bit of Ketèlbey ‘travelogue’ music, Jungle Drums although it sounds rather a bit too like In The Mystic Land of Egypt.

The main item on this the third volume of historic Ketèlbey recordings from Naxos, is the Cockney Suite, the composer’s largest work, cast in five movements. It rivals similar suites by Eric Coates and it opens with a delightfully swaggering march for A State Procession. Next comes The Cockney Lover a serenade harmonised in the style of Debussy and based on two drinking songs, ‘’Arf a pint o’ mild and bitter’ and ‘Little brown jug’. At the Palais de Danse shows off different sections of a dance band while the mood turns sombre with muted strings for the elegiac Thoughts on Passing the Cenotaph. And the whole is rounded off with all the fun of the Bank Holiday fair on Hampstead Heath with mouth organs, busking cornets, a steam organ and fragments of drinking songs and military band music.

Also included are several of Ketèlbey’s popular novelties. Mind the Slide has fun with ‘improper’ trombone glissandos. A Musical Jigsaw has a succession of 44 well known musical phrases ranging from Rossini’s William Tell to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 by way of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Ketèlbey’s own Sanctuary of the Heart. Perhaps the most interesting novelty is Fiddle Fun that features the composer himself on the piano accompanying an unidentified violinist who shows off, in comical manner, many of the violinist’s show techniques like double-stops, harmonics, glissandi and left hand pizzicato.

Another substantial piece is In a Camp of the Ancient Britons which according to Ketèlbey was inspired by a visit to Weston-super-Mare – "…when I saw the gay promenade and in the background the old ramparts (Worlebury) carrying the mind back to the times of the Roman legions and the Druids … The music conveys the atmosphere of the old drama gradually merging into present-day brightness and gaiety."

The programme is rounded off with the stirring processional march With Honour Crowned composed to celebrate King George V’s Jubilee in 1935 and performed with great occasion by the Massed Bands of the Aldershot and Eastern Commands conducted by Leslie Seymour.

Another nostalgic album full of period charm to delight Ketèlbey fans.

Ian Lace



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