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Charles Williams and the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
Recordings from the Chappell Recorded Music Library

Eric COATES (1886-1957)

London Calling
Charles SHADWELL (1898-1979)

Morning at Bilbury
Lulworth Cove

Frontier March
May Day at Helston
Charles WILLIAMS (1893-1978)

The Future
Seaford Head
Witches’ Ride
Rhythm on Rails
Tom Tom the Piper’s Son
Summer Garden
Percy FLETCHER (1879-1932)

Dancing on the Green
At the Court of Cleopatra
Billy REID (1902-1974)

Moon in the Sky
Sinclair LOGAN

Minuet in F
Denis WRIGHT (1895-1967)

Empire Jubilee March
Frank TAPP (1883-1953)

Beachy Head Overture
Haydn WOOD (1882-1959)

Virginia – A Southern Rhapsody
Manx Rhapsody
John ANSELL (1874-1948)

Overture to an Irish Comedy
Montague PHILLIPS (1885-1969)

Forest Melody
Hillside Melody
Clive RICHARDSON (1909-1998)

Naval Splendour
Kenneth LESLIE-SMITH (?-1993)

Clifton PARKER (1905-1989)

The Glass Slipper – Overture
The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams
Recorded London, c.1942-45


Guild’s Light Music Series really narrows its focus with this release. Others have been devoted to a particular decade or to genres but this one tucks into the Chappell Recorded Music Library, initiated in 1941 to tie in with the newsreel mood music that was proving so popular. The first 78s followed in 1942, conducted by Charles Williams, and here we have twenty-eight tracks released over a three-year period and featuring some of the composing luminaries of the field.

Williams (born Isaac Cozerbreit) was an interesting chap, an ex-fiddler of repute who had made Zonophones in the 1920s and had played under Elgar before embarking on his film music career, one that was to take him to the top of the tree in Britain. The big names are here – Eric Coates, Haydn Wood – as are the less well known – John Holliday, Frank Tapp – and the recently re-established such as Montague Phillips. Threaded throughout are Williams’ own compositions, which include the bold, confident The Future, with its Elgarian March affiliations – something that Denis Wright shares in his Empire Jubilee March. Billy Reid contributes some elegant Viennese pastiche and the ever inventive Percy Fletcher offers a touch of exotica in At the Court of Cleopatra. Tapp starts with some VW then mines the nervy-pastoral school whereas Charles Shadwell’s Lulworth Cove is full of ripe romanticism, with a fine rippling waves lapping into the shore. Haydn Wood’s Virginia must have Delius’s Appalachia on its mind but, as the notes wisely point out, Wood, who was conducting this 1942 disc, clearly hurries it along to fit the time constraints – it could profitably be a lot more languorous (beautiful wind writing, though I’m not sure about the Swanee River quotes).

Clive Richardson turns roistering in Naval Splendour whilst deft Montague Phillips scores highly with his splendidly orchestrated Forest Melody. But perhaps we should leave the last word to the ostensible hero of this disc, Charles Williams. His finely dramatic Witches’ Ride is a genre piece, certainly, but it has vivacity, colour and rhythm – unpretentious and lively. And that goes for most of the items on this well filled and entertaining disc. I enjoyed it immensely.

Jonathan Woolf


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