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Haydn WOOD (1882-1959)
Horse Guards - Whitehall (from London Landmarks Suite)
Orchestre Raymonde/Robert Preston [3:11]
Joyousness - Concert Waltz (from Moods Suite)
Light Symphony Orchestra/Haydn Wood [4:18]
Laughing Cavalier (Haydn Wood)
New Concert Orchestra/Jack Leon [3:01]
Longing

London Palladium Orchestra/Richard Crean [3:02]
Roses of Picardy

Peter Yorke and his Concert Orchestra featuring Freddy Gardner, saxophone [2:33]
Seville (from Cities of Romance Suite)
BBC Variety Orchestra/Charles Shadwell featuring Reginald Foort, organ [2:35]
The Seafarer - A Nautical Rhapsody (Haydn Wood) Intro: Hulla Balloo Balay, Rio Grande, Leave Her Johnnie Leave Her, Drunken Sailor, Shenandoah, When Johnnie Comes Down To Hilo, Roving
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra [7:38]
Montmartre (from Paris Suite)
Debroy Somers Band [2:47]
Nelson's Column - Overture (from London Landmarks Suite)
Queen's Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams [3:05]
Soliloquy

Queen's Hall Light Orchestra/Robert Farnon [3:11]
Homage March

Light Symphony Orchestra/Haydn Wood [4:13]
Bird of Love Divine

London Palladium Orchestra/Richard Crean [3:37]
Vienna (from Frescoes Suite)
New Concert Orchestra/Serge Krish [4:07]
Mannin Veen (Dear Isle Of Man)
Light Symphony Orchestra/Haydn Wood [8:55]
Caprice (from Moods Suite)
Queen's Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams [2:18]
Tower Hill (from London Landmarks Suite)
Queen's Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams [3:15]
I Hear You Calling Me (Charles Marshall arr. Haydn Wood)
London Palladium Orchestra/Richard Crean [4:15]
Torch of Freedom - Grand March
New Concert Orchestra/Jack Leon [2:34]
Stanford Rhapsody (founded on Sir Charles Villiers Stanford's Songs of the Sea) (Haydn Wood) Intro: Drake's Drum, Homeward Bound, Devon O Devon In Wind And Rain, The Old Superb
Debroy Somers Band [8:19]
Recorded 1933-52
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD 5121 [77.57]

 

It’s always a pleasure to encounter Haydn Wood interpreted with such engaging brio as here; not least in the three composer-conducted items where Wood leads the Light Symphony Orchestra. The recordings span pretty well two decades and there are some scions of the Light Music establishment on the rostrum: Charles Williams, Debroy Somers and Robert Farnon prominent among them.

All is set fair for a rip-roaring programme and so it proves. Wood’s versatility in the genre was never in doubt and the selection gives us an enviable smorgasbord of waltzes, Nauticalia, Elgariana, fantasias, selections from suites, overtures and the like. Throughout there is the air of spruce command – crisp orchestration from Wood and understanding articulation by the appointed bands. The title track for instance, conducted by Wood, is a delightfully brisk affair whereas The Laughing Cavalier is a deft study in mock pomposo and contrasting avuncularity.

Some interesting period details emerge; the London Palladium Orchestra’s fiddles –though relatively few in number – stand on the cusp of a portamento/non portamento dilemma - some do and some don’t - which is appropriate for the time of the recording. And then there’s the magnificent Freddy Gardner, with Peter Yorke’s band, unfolding his golden saxophone in Roses of Picardy with glutinous delight - too much for me but there’s no arguing with it.

There are the occasional rather generic pieces that fail to make much impact – Seville from the Cities of Romance suite, even with Reginald Foort and Charles Shadwell plying its trade in this recording, sounds rather suburban. But The Seafarer gives us Wood on home ground, or water, spinning out some nautical tunes with effortless élan; note the tightly muted trumpet in The Drunken Sailor. Wood’s affection for Elgar’s music is evident in Nelson’s Column but even more so in his 1935 salute for the Silver Jubilee of George V, the Homage March, which has Pomp and Circumstance No.6 (or 7 – it’s so hard to keep up with Elgar reconstructions these days) written all over it.

Mind you I was brought up short by the Delian writing that informs Soliloquy. It was written in 1947 and is here conducted by Farnon who understands it perfectly and is an unusual sideline on Wood’s musical tastes and affinities. His Isle of Man tribute – he spent his childhood there – gets rather Hebridean but the tribute to his old teacher, Stanford’s Songs of the Sea, goes with the old man’s vigorous panache.

The notes are up to Guild’s usual standard in this extensive series. The transfers are strong on reducing 78 hiss to very listenable levels – no intrusive background – but at some expense in the treble so that they can sound a touch airless. A small caveat in the light of the extensive pleasures here.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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