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The Golden Age of Light Music – reflections of Tranquillity
various Orchestras
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD 5112 [77.29]

 


Matty MALNECK (1904-1981) Robert MAXWELL (b.1921)

Shangri-La
Monty Kelly and his orchestra
Joyce COCHRANE

Starry Night
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
David ROSE (1910-1990)

Deserted City
David Rose and his orchestra
Cecil MILNER

Primrose Dell
Harmonic Orchestra/Hans May
Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)

Lotus Land
Camarata
Robert FARNON (b.1917)

In a Calm
Robert Farnon and his orchestra
Walter COLLINS

Linden Grove
London Promenade Orchestra/Walter Collins
Kenneth ESSEX

Starlight rendezvous
Louis Voss and his orchestra
Bob HAYMES (b.1922)

Beyond the next hill
La Brilliante
Acquaviva and his orchestra
Donald THORNE (1901-1967)

Rippling Waters – arranged Busby
Queens’ Hall Light Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Richard RODGERS (1902-1979)

Bali H’ai
Monty Kelly and his orchestra
Eric COATES (1886-1957)

Under the Stars
Queens’ Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams
Peter DENNIS

Packet Boat
Dolf van der Linden and his orchestra
Archibald JOYCE (1873-1963)

Dreaming arranged Sidney Torch
Sidney Torch and his orchestra
Charles WILLIAMS (1893-1978)

Lizard Point
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Angela MORLEY (b.1924)

Adrift in a Dream
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Reginald KING (1904-1991)

Autumn Sunshine
London Promenade Orchestra/Walter Collins
Trevor DUNCAN (b.1924)

Moon Magic
New Concert Orchestra/ Dolf van der Linden
Al HOFFMAN (1902-1960)

A Night of Stars
Richard Hayman and his orchestra
Hans MAY (d.1959)

Rippling down the mountain
Harmonic Orchestra/Hans May
Burton LANE (1912-1997)

How are things in Glocca Morra
Monty Kelly and his orchestra
Robert FARNON (b.1917)

Mid Ocean
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Belle FENSTOCK (b.1914)

Safari
David Carroll and his orchestra
Recorded 1946-54

There’s a large amount of Golden Age Light Music and Guild is mining the best of it. Some of the specialist labels that produced so much – Essex, Chappell, Paxton, MGM and Bosworth, all of which have been well featured in this extensive series – are here of course. But it’s good to see that Guild has dug up some sides issued by Harmonic with its eponymous house band and have taken in Mercury as well as the more standard Parlophones and Deccas. It’s one of the pleasures of the series to be acquainted with the diverse collection of competing companies who were so active in the field in the forties and fifties and indeed beyond. In this release Guild push up to the fifty-year copyright period and cover an eight-year span from War’s end to the rise of the LP.

We start with the glutinous promise of Shangri-La (amazingly co-written by that adept jazz player Matty Malneck). With its cascading harps and ripe strings, via the agency of Monty Kelly and his orchestra, this summons up Technicolor and Rank School smiles, ankle socks and Joan Collins. It certainly summons up an era, but then in its much subtler way so does genre-maestro David Rose and his languid Deserted City – the other side of the escapist fantasies so richly evoked in this series. Primrose Dell is mood music pure and simple – and very English – whilst we also find the supposedly hot house Lotus Land of Cyril Scott (still alive and kicking at the time of this recording), which tends to wilt under the pressure of Camerata. Admirers of the Canadian genius Robert Farnon will note the Delian cast of In A Calm, which has here been programmed to precede the older Walter Collins’ rather Elgarian influenced Linden Grove – strongly in the tradition of English Marches despite the Vaughan Williamsy title.

These tints of the influences of older composers are matched by the brasher modernity of contemporary style. There’s a great big fat trumpet solo in Starlight Rendezvous over swirling strings, that shows the kitsch was alive and well on the Bosworth label in 1952 but Rippling Waters shows some aquatic charm to counter balance the band stand brio elsewhere. Aspects of style of this kind recur throughout this disc. Pastel shades are programmed next to cheesy Hawaiian numbers, which in their turn rub discographic shoulders with, say. Eric Coates’ Under The Stars. One of my favourite tracks, once past its portentous opening, is Archibald Joyce’s easeful and charming Dreaming in its Sidney Torch arrangement (always a sign of quality). Then there’s the ex fiddle player Charles Williams whose Lizard Point is not unacquainted with Tintagel – and manages to pack a lot of incident into three minutes; a feature of all these genre pieces. Hans May was a distinguished figure in this company and his Rippling Down the Mountain shows that cascading harp and string numbers can be imbued with delicacy and a degree of orchestral discretion as well as colour. And we end with Belle Fenstock’s brashly dancing Safari, chock full of high spirits.

David Ades contributes his usual helpful, biographically astute notes. The transfers are generally fine though there were a few moments when I suspected that slightly too much treble filtering has taken place. Otherwise, more pleasures.

Jonathan Woolf



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