Let’s be honest: this is
the sort of music that really gets the old spine tingling.
Forget the complex aleatory music by Stockhausen and the
incessant minimalism of Reich and Glass and even the integral
serialism of Pierre Boulez. This is the kind of music that
makes you feel good. Now do not get me wrong – I may not
'groove' to Stockhausen in the same way that I ‘dig’ Zeppelin
and 'The Dead' and Robert Farnon but at least I do appreciate
what the three above-named masters have done for music. The
bottom line is this. If you want the musical equivalent of
nursery food then this CD is for you. These tunes are a kind
of musical ginger sponge with hot custard.
numbers on this CD are all from the first half of the Fifties.
Tis was a time of change in music – both popular and serious.
It was an era when, if you were lucky, you could hear Elvis
Presley or Bill Haley on Radio Luxembourg and Stanley Black
and Frank Chacksfield on the Light Programme. Younger readers
please note that the Light Programme became what is now Radio
2 – and did not have Terry Wogan. On the serious side of
the musical equation, listeners were hearing much serialism
and the beginning of what many would term anarchy – ‘play
these notes in any order you please when you want’ type of
tune. So this CD represents a kind of ‘Third Way.’
of the music on this disc I do not know. But it is somehow
in my blood. I remember sitting for hours with my elderly,
bedridden grandmother listening to the radio – both the Light
Programme and the Home Service. And I know that this was
the kind of music heard on this ‘medium’ rather than the
burgeoning rock and roll, skiffle and ‘beat’ on the ‘Pirates’. And
strangely I have never lost my affection for it. Perhaps,
if I am honest, I can warm to some of the melodies and rhythms
much more than I do to Beethoven, Mozart and even JSB? Maybe
it is the evocative titles? Possibly the memories of a ‘better
world’ just before I was born? (Rationing? Hmm.) Maybe the ‘romantic’ part
of my nature needs to be ‘patronised’ a little bit more than
the classical or intellectual (such as there is)? Or maybe
it is just that I prefer Ginger Sponge to Nouvelle Cuisine?
let’s glance at the music. There are 27 tracks – each and
every one of them designed to bring back the memories. Some
of the pieces are by ‘big names’ in the world of light music
such as Richard Addinsell, Robert Farnon and Frederic Curzon.
There are a few ‘musical’ composers here too such as Jerome
Kern and Irving Berlin. And then there are the ‘classical’ or
so called ‘serious’ writers such as Benjamin Frankel and
Georges Auric. Some of the pieces are arrangements of ‘standards’ and
many are novelties or original works.
is less of a themed CD than others in the Guild series – but
perhaps that is really irrelevant.
meet a number of girls on this disc – Frank Perkins’ bouncy Barbara and
Arend Honhoff’s Eleanora – the girl with a touch of
Spain in her blood. I am not so sure about the Song of
the Barefoot Contessa but it has a nice Gypsy swing to
it. And of course love is never far away – Philippe-Gerard ‘Without
my Lover’ is a little less evocative than it might have
been with this particular emotion. Yet this is well balanced
by Robert Farnon’s arrangement of the Arthur Schwartz ‘classic’ If
there is Someone Lovelier than You. Of course all good
lovers will answer NO! And then again lovers can either part
or perhaps get married – and if they have been good can
join Edward White for a White Wedding. Or maybe we
will grieve our love lost and not be happy Till the Clouds
Roll By with Jerome Kern.
there are the travel pieces. We can join Georges Auric on
the Pavements of Paris – complete with evocative accordion – as
another reviewer has said, “all Gauloises and berets”. Or
perhaps we fly to Manhattan with Richard Rodgers. Now
I do not know where Len Stevens situated Easy Street – but
I guess it was not the Big Apple – perhaps just up from Knightsbridge?
Philip Green returns to the States with his novelty Wagon
Trail followed a few tracks later by the absolutely lovely Holiday
in Hollywood by Peter Dennis. This piece evokes
less of the Silver Screen than trips to Newquay and St Ives
on the Cornish Riviera Express. But that is the beauty of
light music - dream as you will! From Hollywood we go En
Route with Robert Farnon. Perhaps we will eventually
arrive at Arden E. Clar’s Port of Spain. Let us hope
the weather is not like Eddie Haywood’s composition – Rainfall.
course the title of the CD is Irving Berlin’s ‘Say It
With Music’ and this is the opening track which is presented
in a ‘big’ Friday Night is Music Night type of arrangement.
Another ‘standard’ follows with Harold Arlen’s That Old
are represented here with pieces such as the redoubtable
Leroy Anderson’s Sandpaper Ballet – it could be by
no-one else and Roger Roger’s The Toy Shop Window – complete
with marching toy soldiers, rocking horses and dancing dollies.
Addinsell’s film music for Out of the Clouds is a
deliciously romantic period piece complete with piano obbligato
which is absolutely nothing like the Warsaw Concerto.
Benjamin Frankel is well known for his film music – and here
we have the theme from A Kid for Two Farthings. It
is a pity that he is not so well appreciated for his superb ‘serious’ music.
then there are the inevitable waltzes and ‘nocturnal’ music.
We can dream to Vercolier’s Starlight Lullaby – at
least until it ‘goes’ Latin. The Waltz in Water Colours by
George Melachrino is a particular favourite of mine. I seem
to remember hearing this played on the Wurlitzer at Blackpool
Tower Ballroom when I was an impressionable young lad. Oscar
Straus continues the dancing mood with his Waltz Dream before
we hear Frank Cordell’s attractive Big Ben Waltz – complete
with the chimes.
last of all we can join Joyce Cochrane with her Prelude
to Peace – another big ‘Friday Night’ tune.
have re-mastered this CD well – all these tunes sound much
better than I imagine they did when they were released more
than half a century ago. For this Alan Bunting must take
credit. The liner notes by David Ades are excellent.
name bands feature on this CD including the David Rose Orchestra,
Leroy Anderson himself, the Robert Farnon Orchestra and many,
you like this kind of music it is a must for your collection.
see also review by Jonathan Woolf
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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