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Golden Age of Music series:
Childhood Memories
Playtime
(Farnon) – Danish State Radio Orchestra/Farnon
Jolly Juggler (Ellis) – Danish State Radio Orchestra/Farnon
Children's Hour (Campbell) – Danish State Radio Orchestra/Farnon
Tinkerbell (Morley) – Danish State Radio Orchestra/Farnon
Skippy (Campbell) – Danish State Radio Orchestra/Farnon
Clockwork Clown (White) – New Concert Orchestra/Dumont
Playbox (Charrosin) – Louis Voss & his orchestra
Little Boy Blue (Croudson) – Louis Voss & his orchestra
Peter Pan (van der Linden) – Dolf Van Der Linden & his orchestra
Hide and Seek  "Children's Playtime Suite" (Engleman) – West End Celebrity Orchestra
Marbles "Children's Playtime Suite" (Engleman) – International Radio Orchestra
Pick a Back, "Children's Playtime Suite" (Engleman) – Regent Classic Orchestra
Ring o' Roses "Children's Playtime Suite" (Engleman) – Regent Classic Orchestra
Children in the Park: Dancing for joy (Duncan) – NCO/Van Der Linden
Dance of the Blue Marionettes (Clair) – Queen's Hall Light Orchestra/Torch
Fun Fair (Martin) – Ray Martin & his orchestra
The Dancer at the Fair (Fortis) – Charles Shadwell & his orchestra
Helter Skelter (Essex) – National Light Orchestra
Time for Fun and Games (Brownsmith) – National Light Orchestra
In the Circus: Cowboy's Horsemanship (Armandola) – London Concert Orchestra
Clowneries (Roger) – Roger Roger and his Champs Elysees Orchestra
Model Railway (Williams) – New Concert Orchestra/Leon
Five o' Clock Tea in the Dolls' House (Rosen) – Regent Classic Orchestra The Music Lesson (Williams) – Charles Williams & his Concert Orchestra
Parade of the Gnomes (Russell) – London Promenade Orchestra/Collins
Toytown Parade (Ferraris) – London Promenade Orchestra/Collins
Children's Overture (Quilter) – Sidney Torch & his orchestra
Recorded in London, England between 1939-55
GUILD GLCD 5125 [77:11]
 



This addition to the Golden Age series continues to feature a similar bunch of composers and orchestras as previous discs in the series. This time the theme is 'Childhood'. But childhood in what sense? This will be childhood memories of those, like me, who were children when the pieces were originally broadcast on the BBC's Light Programme. They were written between 1939 and 1955. Childhood is also their subject matter. Composers featured and not generally known are Armandola, Englemann, Charrosin, Croudson, Clair, Campbell, Brownsmith, Morley, White and Ferraris, yet fine pieces like the ones by White and Charrosin may be familiar to the ears of listeners now in their fifties and sixties!

The majority of these short numbers (2-3 minutes) are unashamedly straightforward in orchestration, with clear melody line and bouncy, skipping or catchy rhythm and an absence of sophistication. They belong to a genre of music so successfully expanded by Tomlinson and others in the 1950s. The pieces portray or describe the objects/situations of their titles and do not use nursery rhymes. An exception to this is the eight minute Quilter Children's Overture which takes two nursery rhymes, 'Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clements' and 'Here we go gathering nuts in May'. His setting is unashamedly simplistic, with light orchestration, yet the inclusion of a central fugue section adds a sophistication that sets the piece on a higher plane and so allows appreciation to adults as much as children.

A nicely constructed piece is The Music Lesson where a metronomic tick provides the opening beat and scales lead us into a colourful melody line. The delicacy of the piece gives appeal and promotes accurate images to match its title. Particularly endearing is Charrosin's Playbox where a seamless and gracious flow is contrasted with some choppy martial passages and staccato effects. Equally entrancing is Vivian Ellis's Jolly Juggler, which brightly bounces along with gay abandon. Perhaps a little obtuse, though, is van der Linden's Peter Pan; here soaring legato strings seems to be at odds with the imagery the composer is trying to achieve through use of his impish wind section - it seems more adult in its appeal. An unusual 'Hoe down' opening to Fun Fair runs into a vivacious piece of promise with Spanish overtones, but the meagre main theme does not in my opinion deliver anything memorable. I expected to find Jessel's memorably catchy, Parade of the Tin Soldiers by the New Light Symphony Orchestra (HMV B8005) featured amongst the tracks, but sadly not so. 

There is much to delight in 'easy listening' mode on this disc. Its welcome issue allows us to put a style to those composers of which little is heard.

Raymond J Walker 

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