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The Golden Age of Light Music; the 1930s
Arthur WOOD Curtain Up – from "Ballerina Suite"
BBC Variety Orchestra conducted by Charles Shadwell with Reginald Foort, Organ [3:08]
Leon JESSEL Wedding Of The Rose
Jack Hylton and his Orchestra [3:14]
Eric COATES Westwards from "Four Ways Suite"
New Light Symphony Orchestra conducted by Joseph Lewis [4:03]
L. NOIRET Tea Dolls’ Parade)
West End Celebrity Orchestra – [3:05]
John ANSELL Plymouth Hoe
Light Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Ansell [6:51]
Paul LINCKE Glow Worm Idyll
New Light Symphony Orchestra [3:32]
Frederic CURZON March Of The Bowmen – from "Robin Hood Suite"
London Palladium Orchestra conducted by Clifford Greenwood [3:56]
Reginald KING The Immortals – Concert Overture
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Walter Goehr [7:23]
Sherman MYERS Butterflies In The Rain
Fred Hartley’s Quintet [2:40]
May Day Overture (Haydn WOOD)
Light Symphony Orchestra conducted by Haydn Wood [6:24]
DOLPHE, GORDON, RANDAL Moths Around The Candle Flame
Alfredo Campoli and his Salon Orchestra [2:15]
Eduard KÜNNEKE Overture from "Tänzerische Suite" (Dance Suite)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Eduard Künneke [7:10]
RECKTENWALD The Nightingale’s Morning Greeting
Marek Weber and his Orchestra [2:49]
Richard RODGERS, Lorenz HART Slaughter On Tenth Avenue – from ‘On Your Toes’
Paul Whiteman and his Concert Orchestra [7:58]
Kennedy RUSSELL Dance Of The Icicles – from "The Wooing of the Snowflakes"
Leslie Jeffries and his Orchestra [2:30]
Carl ROBRECHT, arr. Phil CARDEW Samum
BBC Dance Orchestra conducted by Henry Hall [2:33]
Music From The Movies – 1937 selection March of the Movies, We Saw the Sea, Would You? Top Hat, My Heart and I, Broadway Rhythm, Where Are You? September in the Rain, Thanks a Million, Lovely Lady, I Saw a Ship a-sailing, March of the Movie
Louis Levy And His Gaumont-British Symphony [8:36]
Recorded 1931-38
GUILD GLCD 5106 [78.16]

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And still they come. Guild’s Light Music Series is as productive as an incubator and the latest baby is this 1930s compilation of mainly – but not exclusively – British works recorded across the decade in question. There are some entertaining selections, right from the cornucopia of an opener, Curtain Up, with its variety of mouth watering selections – and not forgetting organ maestro Reginald Foort of blessed memory doing his (brief) thing. Eric Coates always kept up to date even when his song titles seemed to be looking backwards – Westwards from the Four Ways Suite being a prime case in point with its syncopated tint and gentle modernity. And then there’s John Ansell. The more I hear of his music the more I like it and Plymouth Hoe is no exception; witty quotations spice this one with Elgarian twilights to the fore and ending in Rule Britannia splendour; the composer conducts. Curzon, a master of the genre, contributes noble swagger and brassy English drive but Reginald King goes one better in his charmingly orchestrated concert overture The Immortals that has time for an unexpected fugal passage.

Of course there are novelty numbers here, quite a number of them, to dilute the imperial gait; Sherman Myers’ Butterflies in the Rain for example or Moths around the Flame (played by Campoli) and Glow Worm Idyll, which all fall into that category. Sherman Myers, by the way, must be one of the few recorded examples of someone taking on a Jewish name, rather than ridding oneself of it; he was born Herbert Carrington and also used the pseudonym Montague Ewing so doubtless he sought extra market coverage that way. Haydn Wood stars brightly – his Wagnerian tinged May Day overture sports Elysian winds and bold vibrant writing as well - a complete performer in a comfortable metier. We get some imports as well – the Berlin Philharmonic, no less (rather more prestigious even than Fred Hartley’s Quintet and rather larger in number) essay Eduard Künneke’s Weimar laced banjo and rhythm Tänzerische Suite – a lot of rather cornball Cricket Smith type jazz (or the type that passed for jazz in Berlin at the time). Still, harmless enough and notable for the lyricism embedded within it.

Alongside Marek Weber’s famous ensemble – essaying some more generic novelty stuff – we have the top notch Whiteman band and some transatlantic finesse in the Rodgers and Hart Slaughter On Tenth Avenue and yes, that creaky old concert band could swing when it needed to. Good solo from the principal violin as well; who was he?

Sound quality is fine and the notes are, as ever, helpful and to the point. There might be too many glow wormy and nightingaley things here for more austere tastes – but these were part and parcel of the genre and they do have their place in a conspectus of the decade.

Jonathan Woolf

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