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Golden Age of Light Music series: Four Decades of Light Music – Volume 2: 1940s and 1950s
The 1940s
March for Americans (GROFÉ) – Meredith Willson & his Orchestra [3:43]
Stringopation (ROSE) – Philip Green & his Orchestra [1:45]
Over to You (COATES) – RAF Central Orchestra/Wing Commander R.P O’Donnell [3:08]
Song of Loyalty (COATES) – RAF Central Orchestra/Wing Commander R.P O’Donnell [3:27]
The Old Clockmaker (WILLIAMS) – Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams [2:56]
Fascination (MARCHETTI) – Albert Sandler & his Palm Court Orchestra [3:30]
World of Tomorrow (BEAVER) – New Century Orchestra/Sidney Torch [3:12]
Turkish Patrol (MICHAELIS) – Lew Stone & his Concert Orchestra [2:51]
If there is Someone lovelier than You (SCHWARTZ) – Percy Faith & his Orchestra [3:09]
Down with the Curtain (SHADWELL) – Charles Shadwell & his Orchestra [3:05]
The 1950s
Bali Ha’i (RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN, arr. STEVENS) – David Carroll & his Orchestra [2:44]
Traffic Boom (ROGER) – Roger Roger & his Champs Elysées Orchestra [2:35]
Song of India (RIMSKY-KORSAKOV) – Laurie Johnson & his Orchestra [3:11]
Surprise (SHORES) – Richard Shores & his Orchestra [2:15]
‘Spellbound’ - theme from film (ROZSA arr. STOTT) – Wally Stott & his Orchestra [3:19]
Forty Second Street (WARREN) – Werner Müller & his Orchestra [2:44]
Purple Wine (GREEN) – Alfredo Antonini & his Orchestra [2:57]
Look Sharp, Be Sharp (MERRICK) – Boston ‘Pops’ Orchestra/Arthur Fiedler [3:02]
The Velvet Glove (SPINA) – Geraldo & his New Concert Orchestra [2:40]
The Piccolino (BERLIN) – Kingsway Promenade Orchestra/Stanley Black [1:57]
Louisiana Hay Ride (SCHWARTZ arr. FARNON) – Robert Farnon & his Orchestra [2:40]
A Garden in the Rain (DYRENFORTH; GIBBONS) – Ray Martin & his Concert Orchestra [2:17]
What’s the Rush (SNIDER) – Charles Dorian & His Orchestra [2:46]
Forgotten Dreams (ANDERSON) – Leroy Anderson & his ‘Pops’ Concert Orchestra [2:11]
Tokay (COWARD arr. SHAW) – Frank Chacksfield & his Orchestra [2:27]
Front Page Story - Theme (CARR) – Melachrino Strings/George Melachrino [2:28]
Sport and Music (BRÜHNE) – Louis Voss & his Orchestra [2:47]
rec. London, England; Boston, USA, 1941-56. ADD
GUILD GLCD 5135 [77:17]

This welcome addition to the Guild series has been issued alongside a companion disc of the 20s and 30s.

A characteristic of these 1940s numbers generally lies in the quality of their melodic structure while those of the 1950s are characterised by novelty of orchestration, with use of saxophone and vibraphone as well as a shift towards a more jazzy style. Screaming strings are a novelty that was favoured during the ’fifties. 

Of the 1940s section, unusual wind combinations found in Michaelis’s Turkish Patrol in Lew Stone’s arrangement provide appeal. Born before the turn of the century, Stone had a long career and was one of the country’s popular dance-band leaders. He also played music for film soundtracks around 1933. For his various bands he managed to attract some of the best musicians available. 

Shadwell’s stirring Down with the Curtain is a rousing piece, punctuated with miniature fanfares. The appearance of the RAF Central Orchestra on this disc is welcome. The orchestra featured on a short-lived RAF label yet made use of the cream of British musicians called up for national service. Recorded by this orchestra, the energetic Over to You and velvety Song of Loyalty reveal totally different styles from the pen of the versatile Eric Coates. Over to You was used as the signature tune for a TV series, ‘Saturday Night Out’ in the ’fifties. 

I was pleased to hear music by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra with its descriptive piece, The Old Clockmaker. The orchestra was owned by Chappells and retained its title after the Queen’s Hall was bombed in May, 1941. The music publisher had set up a division for recording mood music for use by professionals in 1941, with Charles Williams directing operations. This piece of mood music, written by him, could not have benefited from the superb acoustic of the Queen’s Hall and was likely to have been recorded at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. It was used by the BBC in their ’forties children’s radio series ‘Jennings at School’. 

Fascination played by Albert Sandler’s Palm Court orchestra brings memories of BBC popular broadcasts of ‘Grand Hotel’, transmitted between 1943 and 1948. The orchestra’s composition gives a characteristic feel that reminds us of the Palm Court style that survived until the end of the ’forties. The theme from Hitchcock’s film, Spellbound is particularly well known and here is played by Wally Stott, who also wrote the ‘signature’ for ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’, and provided a band for productions like ‘The Goon Show’. 

Of the 1950s section, an interesting find is Irving Berlin’s The Piccolino: this is nicely handled by Stanley Black and is well played by his Kingsway Orchestra. Laurie Johnson, famous for his ‘Avengers’ theme tune, provides a modern identity to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Song of India, but I find the decoration he uses somewhat intrusive and repetitious. The opening raindrop imagery used by Ray Martin sets the scene for A Garden in the Rain in a slow foxtrot setting. 

What’s the Rush is a bustling, catchy number with a strong rhythm. This is provided by cellos playing a slow rising scale that is set against a vivacious string passage. The piece is evocative and provides a vivid atmosphere. Likewise, Brühne’s Sport and Music is bright, flows well and is full of the fun of a Busby Berkeley musical.

It’s interesting to hear that Guild have had much positive feedback that has resulted in listeners offering long-forgotten records found in their attics, some of great rarity and strong historic appeal. The Guild series characterised by their excellent restoration and transfers now numbers 35: the trend is likely to grow.

Raymond J Walker


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