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British Cinema and Theatre Orchestras – Volume 2
BUCALOSSI Grasshoppers' Dance (1933)
Regal Virtuosi, conducted by Emanuel Starkey
NEVIN ARR. MYDDLETON Narcissus (from "Water Scenes") (1939)
HERMAN FINCK In the Shadows (1939)
ELGAR ARR. ARTOK Salut d'Amour (1939)
Paramount Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Anton with Al Bollington, Organ
CHABRIER Espana Waltz (1935)
Charles Manning and his Granada Walthamstow Orchestra
LINDSAY Aisha (1934)
ARR. CARL WOITSCHACH March Review Medley (1936)
London Palladium Orchestra, conducted by Richard Crean - HMV C 2745
LESLIE STUART Memories (1928)
London Coliseum Orchestra, conducted by Alfred Dove
CHAPUNI Ke-Sa-Ko (also known as "Japanese Intermezzo") (1932)
KOHN The Fairies Gavotte (1933)
SINDING Rustle Of Spring (1934)
Commodore Grand Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Muscant
HESSE My Lady Dainty – Graceful Dance
CHAMINADE Pierrette (1927)
COATES The Three Bears - A Fantasy (1928)
GERMAN "Gipsy Suite" Allegro (1927)
Plaza Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Frank Tours
THURBAN Yankiana — American Suite (1936)
Commodore Grand Orchestra, conducted by Harry Davidson
ARR. DOSTAL "Welcome Vienna" Selection (1936)
Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra, conducted by Charles Shadwell
ELLIS "Follow A Star" Overture (1930)
Winter Garden Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Sydney Baynes
WOODS "Aunt Sally" Selection (1934)
You Ought To See Sally On Sunday, If l had Napoleon's Hat, The Wind’s in the West, y Wild Oat, We'll All Go Riding On A Rainbow, I Want a Fair and Square Man, Ain't She the Dainty
Gaumont British Studio Orchestra, conducted by Louis Levy
rec. 1928-39, London and Coventry, England. Mono
GUILD GLCD 5122 [76:33]

Review of Volume 1

The role of cinema orchestras in entertainment is not widely acknowledged. Silent films always had one crucial dimension missing – that of sound. Small cinemas made do with impromptu piano accompaniment to match the moods and actions on screen; in large cinemas an orchestra/ensemble would be kept busy to provide the on-screen accompaniment.

When the talkies arrived, a live orchestra would still be employed to make up presumably for the poor frequency response of the soundtrack and as recording improved to provide general opening, interval and closing music.

This disc pays tribute to the music in vogue during that blossoming period of the talkies. Both Compton and Wurlitzer organs were starting to show their faces and two tracks here feature Al Bollington on one. Leading cinema and theatre orchestras, being London-based, teamed up with the main recording companies to bring about the 78rpm recordings found here.

Some of the titles are new to me, but I particularly remember Bucalossi's catchy "Grasshopper Dance" (coupled with a boring 'La Siesta') on an HMV 10". Surprisingly, I notice that a version of it also appears on Guild’s first volume in this series [DLCD 5108]. The Elgar, Coates and Chabrier are well known from elsewhere in the catalogue yet it is interesting to judge the competence from other benchmark recordings. Here there are plenty of familiar tunes unknown by name. Richard Crean with his Palladian Orchestra was quite industrious with his output for HMV and commands a good presence with his style.

I enjoyed the Leslie Stuart melodies, a reminder of how good the melodies were that came from the pen of this self-made composer. Many will have forgotten the strengths of Vivian Ellis’s musicals in the Thirties: before his best known, ‘Bless the Bride’ came "Follow a Star", obviously good enough to have been recorded before the unexpected early departure of its lead, Sophie Tucker, caused an untimely closure. A good variety of content is found on this disc, yet I wonder why neither of the two volumes has carried that memorable tune, ‘The Whistler and his Dog’ (Pryor) since this catchy number was recorded twice by Crean on HMV [B8004 and B8995]. Maybe a third volume is already being considered. The selections are particularly welcome because they help us appreciate what some of London’s musical shows were all about.

As David Ades’ interesting notes make mention, the final track of selections from the Courtneidge film "Aunt Sally" is the first recording by Louis Levy with the Gaumont British Symphony Orchestra; pretentiously titled I suggest when its film studio players would be freelancers. It also documents an uplifting composition by the forgotten American, Harry M. Woods. I had hoped the background notes (English only) would have been longer, especially when two pages of ‘fill’ are devoted to other Guild releases. An interesting full page picture in the booklet shows a recording session of the Gaumont British orchestra with Louis Levy standing above them on a temporary wooden stage.

One has to admire the quality of transfer from these original 78 discs: the frequency response achieved by Alan Bunting is much wider that might be expected from the limitations of recording techniques found during the late twenties, a time when electric recording techniques were still being developed.

Raymond J Walker


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