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Great American Light Orchestras: The Golden Age of Light Music
Fiddle Faddle (Leroy Anderson)
The Bad and the Beautiful – theme from film (David Raksin)
Brazilian Sleigh Bells (Percy Faith)
Anna (Roman, Giordano, Godfrey)
No Strings Attached (Richard Hayman)
Rain (Eugene Ford)
Holiday in Rio (Terig Tucci)
Sophisticated Lady (Duke Ellington, arr. Gould)
Marguerite Waltz (Meredith Willson)
Blue Violins (Ray Martin)
No other Love (Richard Rodgers)
Three o'clock in the Morning (Robledo, Terriiss)
La Mer (Charles Trenet)
If You are but a Dream (Jaffe, Fulton, Bronx – adapted from 'Romance' by Rubinstein)
Satan and the Polar Bear (David Rose)
Carriage Trade (Richard Hayman)
Tradewinds (David Carroll)
Manhattan Serenade (Louis Alter)
The Cavalier's Ball (Nicolas Acquaviva)
Tropicana (Bernie Wayne)
Smoke gets in your Eyes (Jerome Kern)
Andalucia (Ernesto Lecuona, arr. Gould)
Dance of the Violins (Jeanjean)
Tic-Tac-Toe (Lou Singer)
Toyland Waltzfrom "Babes in Toyland" (Victor Herbert)
Manhattan Masquerade (Louis Alter)
Recorded in the USA
GUILD GLCD5105 [78.04]


 

The corresponding volume in this series devoted to British light orchestras sports an idyllic village cricket match, full of rolling acres and church spires. America gives us a diner with bright neon lights, coffee and a Danish and with just a hint of angst amidst the bagels. But all the big names are here from the opening salvo of "gusto personified" by Leroy Anderson and the luscious orchestration of genre maestro David Raksin’s The Bad and the Beautiful through to the final piece of portentous Gershwinesque concoction presided over by Paul Whiteman (whose Gershwinesque stripes had been well and honorably won).

These examples from the late 1940s and early 1950s pay testament to the high level of orchestration and execution in the bands of such as Rose, Gordon Jenkins and Victor Young. Richard Hayman’s massed fiddles certainly flaunt their prowess in No strings attached – ironic title – and we get some appropriately amusing genre writing in Brazilian Sleigh Bells, finely despatched by Percy Faith. Not everything goes so well; exotically named Acquaviva – crazy name, crazy guy – hams up Holiday in Rio and Morton Gould (surprisingly) disappoints with a clever-clever Sophisticated Lady whilst Monty Kelly is inclined to get treacly in Three o’clock in the morning. But the dance songs sway and drive and as ever Rose leads the way in descriptive-pictorial writing of an exalted level (try Satan and the Polar Bear for an unlikely sounding winner). If Gershwin animated Alter’s Manhattan Masquerade, the Whiteman band’s one outing on this disc, then Rachmaninov haunts the pocket piano concerto of Manhattan Serenade and elsewhere we can enjoy wordless vocals, guitar solos, pizzicato fizzers and subtly coloured writing – and some brash swagger as well.

Not having heard the originals it’s difficult to comment decisively on the transfers, the majority of which sound warm and pleasing. A few however sound a bit cramped – Paul Weston’s Rain in particular – which makes me wonder whether too much treble has been cut in the remastering. Otherwise, another warm welcome.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Ray Walker


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