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The Golden Age of Light Music - Reflections of Tranquillity
(1904-1981) Robert MAXWELL (b.1921)
Shangri-La (1954) [2:58]
Monty Kelly and his orchestra
Starry Night (1954) [3:15]
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
David ROSE (1910-1990)
Deserted City (1952) [3:13]
David Rose and his orchestra
Primrose Dell (1949) [3:00]
Harmonic Orchestra/Hans May
Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)
Lotus Land (1954) [4:28]
Robert FARNON (b.1917)
In a Calm (1950) [2:17]
Robert Farnon and his orchestra
Linden Grove (1948) [3:10]
London Promenade Orchestra/Walter Collins
Kenneth ESSEX
Starlight rendezvous (1952) [2:57]
Louis Voss and his orchestra
Bob HAYMES (b.1922)
Beyond the next hill (1954) [4:47]
La Brilliante (1954) [4:13]
Acquaviva and his orchestra
Donald THORNE (1901-1967)
Rippling Waters – arranged Busby (1949) [3:21]
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Richard RODGERS (1902-1979)
Bali H’ai (1954) [2:59]
Monty Kelly and his orchestra
Eric COATES (1886-1957)
Under the Stars (1946) [3:09]
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams
Packet Boat (1954) [3:07]
Dolf van der Linden and his orchestra
Archibald JOYCE (1873-1963)
Dreaming arranged Sidney Torch (1950) [3:34]
Sidney Torch and his orchestra
Charles WILLIAMS (1893-1978)
Lizard Point (1954) [3:03]
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Angela MORLEY (b.1924)
Adrift in a Dream (1954) [3:07]
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Reginald KING (1904-1991)
Autumn Sunshine (1946) [2:51]
London Promenade Orchestra/Walter Collins
Trevor DUNCAN (b.1924)
Moon Magic (1954) [4:03]
New Concert Orchestra/ Dolf van der Linden
Al HOFFMAN (1902-1960)
A Night of Stars (1954) [2:11]
Richard Hayman and his orchestra
Hans MAY (d.1959)
Rippling down the mountain (1949) [3:03]
Harmonic Orchestra/Hans May
Burton LANE (1912-1997)
How are things in Glocca Morra (1954) [2:56]
Monty Kelly and his orchestra
Robert FARNON (b.1917)
Mid Ocean (1954) [2:49]
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Belle FENSTOCK (b.1914)
Safari (1953) [2:46]
David Carroll and his orchestra
[Recordings re-mastered from a variety of recorded sources and the dates given are the original record release date, not the date of composition]
GUILD GLCD 5112 [77:29]

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Do not get me wrong. I love this kind of music. OK - one can accuse nearly all of these composers of wearing their hearts on their sleeves. It is easy to criticize the incipient sentimentality of most of these numbers. And perhaps the textures, themes and instrumentation rely a little too much on the clichés of the day. But this is music to be enjoyed, not studied and analysed.

I do not suppose the history of music would be any different if any of these pieces had not been composed. Yet the world would be much poorer; this CD is about sitting back and enjoying oneself. It is all about taking a trip down memory lane. It is allows us to discover a forgotten country where everything seemed simpler and the summers were always warm and the skies blue. Forget the Korean War, austerity and the threat of Atomic holocaust. This is the most escapist music you can imagine.

Just look at some of the titles. The CD opens with a lush (“only grass is lush, France” – English master, Coatbridge High School 1968) number depicting that magical kingdom in AsiaShangri-La. Before long we are wandering in Cyril Scott’s Lotus Land – not the best version of this tune I hasten to add. But soon we are exploring David Rose’s Deserted City and Cecil Milner’s enchanting Primrose Dell.

The pleasures of night time and twilight are well represented on this CD too. We have Joyce Cochrane’s evocative Starry Night and Under the Stars by the redoubtable Eric Coates. Trevor Duncan’s dreamy Moon Magic and Al Hoffman’s period piece, complete with harmonica, A Night of Stars finish off the nocturnes. 

And then the Sea, the Sea! A fair number of these musical paintings have a nautical feel to them. Robert Farnon’s In a Calm nods to Fred Delius and is none the worse for that. Peter Dennis’ Packet Boat is a much livelier work that evokes the annual holiday to the Channel Islands or perhaps the Isle of Man. Angela Morley is a little more philosophical with her attractive Adrift in a Dream which rates as one of my favourite pieces on this CD. But the favourite has to be Lizard Point by Charles Williams. Another reviewer has alluded to Bax’s Tintagel and this is pertinent. Whilst not being as complex as the masterwork it is still a fine achievement that presents one of England’s great landmarks on a fine summer’s day rather than in a storm.

A few works seem to come in from the warm further climes, however. I have alluded to Shangri-La. We have a nice arrangement of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Bali H’ai, we go on Safari with Belle Fenstock and go Rippling Down a Mountain courtesy of Hans May.

And finally How are Things in Glocca Morra? This is a lovely heart warming number from Finian's Rainbow. I suppose that all is well – not only in that little town but in the world of ’fifties light music.

All in all there are twenty-four evocative numbers on this CD. Each one is a little gem in its own right and deserves to have at least one version in the catalogue. The sound quality is a tribute to Alan Bunting and the full programme notes by David Ades are superb.

I have alluded to simpler days. This CD is full of sunshine and hope and the sheer joy of being alive.

John France

see also Review by Jonathan Woolf




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