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The Golden Age of Light Music: Musical Kaleidoscope - Volume 1
see end of review for details

The Guild Music label in their series The Golden Age of Light Music has built up a most impressive catalogue of forty or so well filled discs. These range from British Cinema and Theatre Orchestras to Bandstand in the Park; from Light Music While You Work to Marching and Dancing and from Childhood Memories to Mantovani - By Special Request.
The present generous twenty-seven number compilation of historical recordings features performances of British dance bands and concert orchestras predominantly from the mid-1940s. The collection focuses on mainly British composers and arrangers, that for a number of reasons did not suit the theme of other volumes in The Golden Age series. We are informed that the set has been assembled mainly from the personal collections of series producer David Ades and audio restorer Alan Bunting. A highlight of the collection is that eleven of the tracks are rare recordings of BBC orchestras such as the much loved signature tunes for the ‘Light Programme’ and the ‘Countryside’ series. Evidently many of the pieces have been personal requests from a number of Guild Golden Age enthusiasts and there is enough material remaining for a second volume to follow.
I have selected seven scores that I found of particular interest. I especially warmed to Frank Cordell’s 1950s performance in his hot and sultry arrangement of Ernest Maxin’s theme music to the BBC TV series Double Cross. Another fascinating track involves Mantovani and his Orchestra from the 1940s, before the influence of Ronald Binge’s cascading string sound, performing the excitable fun and frolics of David Rose’s Spanish Onion.
From the early 1930s I enjoyed the New Light Symphony Orchestra playing Montague Ewing’s Policeman’s Holiday. Ewing’s score, containing both a martial quality and the madcap antics of the Keystone Cops, increased in popularity and was also provided in a version with lyrics. Highly engaging is Reginald King’s Orchestra from the 1930s playing Roses At Dawning by Le Boy Kahn, Gus Kahn and Neil Moret. Here we have romantic music evocative of couples entwined swirling around plush dance halls.
From the early 1930s Richard Crean conducts the London Palladium Orchestra in the Blue Devils – a spirited march written by Charles Williams in Adolf Lotter’s arrangement. The score to Blue Devils was originally published as The Kensington March. Of the seven famous BBC Orchestras featured I must single out the London Studio Players conducted by Michael Krein from 1946 in Jack Byfield’s cheerful arrangement of Oranges And Lemons.
The music used for the BBC Home Service series of countryside programmes the ‘Rivers of The North of England’ was written by Lambert Williamson. Here the mainly pastoral score with episodes of drama is performed by the BBC Northern Orchestra under their conductor Charles Groves, recorded around 1950. Haydn Wood, a student of Stanford at the Royal College of Music, was a prolific and acknowledged light music master. Wood is represented by his joyous Dance Of A Whimsical Elf; a title that so aptly describes the character of the score played here by the BBC Theatre Orchestra under Harold Lowe from 1943.
For those looking for high quality modern recordings of British Light Music there are a considerable number of discs in the catalogues. One of my favourite collections that I can highly recommend is a two disc set titled ‘British Light Classics’ performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Barry Wordsworth. This was recorded in London, in 2003 at the Henry Wood Hall and in 2004 at the Cadogan Hall on Warner Classics 2564 63410-2. Each of the Warner Classics discs have been available separately on 25464 61438-2 and 2564 62020-2. Another collection that is guaranteed to please is an acclaimed four disc set titled ‘British Light Music’ conducted by Ronald Corp and the New London Orchestra. The Corp set was recorded between 1995 and 2002 and is available on Hyperion CDS442614. Each of the four volumes of the set has been released separately on Hyperion: CDA66868, CDA66968, CDA67148 and CDA67400.
On this Guild Music set the sound has been remastered to a most acceptable standard that is exceptional for the age of fifty to seventy-five years. The booklet notes are interesting and reasonably informative. Lovers of Light Music will be in their element with this eclectic and generous collection of scores from the Guild Music label.
Michael Cookson

Artur Clemens SCHRECKENBERGER (d. 1989)
Kaleidoscope [3:40]
New Century Orchestra/Erich Borschel
FDH 1218. Released 1956
Ernest MAXIN (b. 1922), arr. Frank CORDELL (1918-1980)
Double Cross (theme from BBC TV series) [2:00]
Frank Cordell and his Orchestra
HMV 7M 397. Released 1956
Ballet Of Madeira [2:06]
Johnny Douglas and his Orchestra
Decca F 10764. Released 1956
David ROSE (1910-1990)
Dance Of The Spanish Onion [3:17]
Mantovani and his Orchestra
Decca F 8518. Released 1945
George MELACHRINO (1909-1965)
Cockney Girl [2:12]
George Melachrino and his Orchestra
EMI EP 008. Released 1947
Paul STEWART, aka Paul VINCENT, real name Jack COLES (1914-1991)
Fiesta [2:38]
The Embassy Orchestra/Jack Coles
Embassy WB 109. Released 1954
Percival MACKEY (1894-1950)
In Happy Mood [3:04]
West End Celebrity Orchestra
Bosworth BC 1202. Released 1947
Montague EWING (1890-1957) aka Sherman MYERS
Policeman’s Holiday [2:48]
New Light Symphony Orchestra
HMV B 8005. Released 1933
Morton GOULD (1913-1996)
Pavanne [2:43]
Jay Wilbur’s Serenaders
Rex 10060-B. Released 1941
Jean Paul Egide MARTINI, real name Johann SCHWARTZENDORF, arr. Fred HARTLEY (1905-1980)
Plaisir D’Amour [3:03]
Fred Hartley and his Music
Columbia DB 3438. Released 1954
Roses At Dawning [2:41]
Reginald King’s Orchestra
Regal MR 617. Released 1932
Henry CROUDSON (1898-1971)
Legend [3:02]
London Promenade Orchestra/Walter Collins
Paxton PR 445. Released 1947
Frederick George CHARROSIN (d. 1976)
Keep Moving [2:58]
Louis Voss and his Orchestra
Bosworth BC 1203. Released 1952
Sailors’ Holiday [2:44]
West End Celebrity Orchestra
Bosworth BC 1126. Released 1940
Charles WILLIAMS (1893-1978), arr. Adolf LOTTER
Blue Devils [2:55]
London Palladium Orchestra/Richard Crean
HMV B 4235. Released 1933
Seven Famous BBC Orchestras
Traditional arr. Jack BYFIELD
Oranges And Lemons [2:30]
London Studio Players/Michael Krein
BBC Sound Archives 8994. Recorded 27 January 1946
Music for ‘Rivers Of The North Of England’ – Serene & Flowing [3:31]
BBC Northern Orchestra/Charles Groves
BBC 14869. Released 1950
Haydn WOOD (1882-1959)
Dance Of A Whimsical Elf [2:53]
BBC Theatre Orchestra/Harold Lowe
BBC London Transcription Service 12RM17844. Recorded 20 December 1943
Arnold FOSTER (c.1898-1963)
Manx Dirk Dance (Reeaghyn-dy-vannin) (from ‘Two Celtic Dances For Orchestra’) [1:28]
BBC Scottish Orchestra/Guy Warrack
BBC London Transcription Service 12RM20497. Recorded 21 February 1944
Geoffrey HENMAN, orchestrated Oliphant CHUCKERBUTTY (1884-1960)
Open Windows, Suite:
Country Air [1:37]
Butterflies [1:22]
Song Of The Sinhalese [1:40]
Dancing Sunlight [2:07]
BBC Revue Orchestra/Charles Groves
BBC London Transcription Service 12RM24074/5/6. Recorded 4 September 1944
Traditional, arr. Gilbert VINTNER
Music Of The People – England [7:25]
BBC Midland Light Orchestra/Gilbert Vintner
BBC London Transcription Service 72310. Recorded 23 July 1952
Traditional, arr. Clive RICHARDSON
Here’s To The Good Old Whisky [3:41]
BBC Variety Orchestra/Charles Shadwell
BBC London Transcription Service 12RM19672. Recorded 6 March 1944
Traditional, arr. Patrick ‘Spike’ HUGHES (1908-1987)
Oranges And Lemons [3:04]
BBC Theatre Orchestra/Harold Lowe
BBC Sound Archives 10247. Recorded 29 April 1947
Legion Patrol [2:51]
Billy Cotton and his Band
Decca F 9619.  Released 1951


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