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The Golden Age of Light Music - Light Music for All Seasons
see end of review for details
Recordings re-mastered from a variety of recorded sources
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5138 [77:53]



This disc does not appeal to me as much as many of the others in theThe Golden Age of Light Music” series. The problem is that most of the tracks do not seem to belong to the ‘light’ music tradition that I most enjoy. Composers that I include in my Top Ten in this genre would be Eric Coates, Robert Farnon, Trevor Duncan and perhaps Charles Williams - and not forgetting Leroy Anderson and Victor Herbert from the other side of the Pond.
 
There are ‘numbers’ on this disc from some of these composers, yet a fair proportion of the programme is made up of what I would regard as arrangements of ‘standards.’ These include April in Paris, Autumn Leaves and September Song.
 
Looking at the ‘classic’ light music numbers, I always enjoy Eric Coates’s evocative Summer Afternoon – Idyll. Yet it is one of those pieces of music that needs to be given the full ‘works’ from a symphony orchestra rather than that of the pier-head or bandstand. It is in fact a fine tone poem that demands our attention and respect.
 
I cannot fault Leroy Anderson’s evergreen Sleigh Ride. No doubt it will be heard in a hundred shopping malls and department stores over the next few weeks. Yet, this does not detract from its status as a masterpiece of ‘Seasonal’ evocation. It defines the (secular) Christmas mood as much as Morecambe and Wise, Fortnum and Mason and Snowmen.  Charles Williams’s lesser-known number Spring Flowers is certainly as good as much of his better known pieces. Horace Shepherd’s miniature Winter is one of the best things on this CD. So there is a deal here to interest the ‘conservative’ light music enthusiast.
 
But most of the rest of this disc I find largely uninteresting and uninspiring. It is what I call ‘Aunty Irene’ type of music. Let me explain. When I was a little lad one of the highlights of my life was visits to the above mentioned lady and my Uncle John. The food was fantastic and my uncle was a great comedian: it was a laugh a minute. Moreover, he had a cine projector and used to show us films of family and friends who were long dead and of myself as a toddler. Yet the downside to me was the music. They had what in its day was probably a fine stereogram – yet the music they played was all of a kind. Much of it was of the Henry Mancini and Frank Chacksfield variety – basically arrangements and second rate ‘musical impressions.’ To my untutored ear it sounded insipid, if not downright boring. And after an evening of half-listening to this music and being bemused by adult conversation, I felt it all sounded very much alike and I was fed up – unless my uncle gave me one of his fine books about Glasgow and the Clyde to peruse. I was delighted when, as a treat for me, he would ‘spin’ Cliff or the Beatles.
 
These impressions came back to me as I listened to this CD. Apart from the handful of pieces alluded to above, much of it belongs to the world of popular, even ‘Tin Pan Alley,’ music as opposed to the largely timeless repertoire of genuine ‘light music’ that I have come to love and cherish.
 
All this is totally subjective. Many of these tunes are fine arrangements and original compositions: they will no doubt be someone’s favourites. And I concede a degree of imagination in assembling the programme. It is certainly a good idea to run chronologically through the year. However, I note that there is little happening in January, February and March – it is not until we consider April in Paris that the year gets going!
 
The last piece is probably typical of the disc as a whole – an arrangement of Christmas favourites – it is hardly an original concept and was probably unnecessary to revive.
 
The sound quality is great and the programme notes are comprehensive. If the reader casts his eye over the titles and sees a few favourites it is well worthwhile buying this disc. It is enjoyable. But from my point of view there is nothing here to compare to Ellis’s Coronation Scot, White’s Runaway Rocking Horse and Richardson’s Melody on the Move.
 
John France

Details
Vernon Duke (arr. Michel Legrand)
April in Paris
Michel Legrand & his Orchestra [3:39]
Don Raye, Gene de Paul & Pat Johnston
I’ll Remember April
Gordon Jenkins & his Orchestra [3:15]
Rebekah Harkness, Tom Glazer
Tulips in Springtime
Alfonso D’Artega & his Orchestra [3:13]
Walter Collins 
Springtime
London Promenade Orchestra, conducted by the composer [2:31]
John Bradford, Tony Romano 
Spring it Was
Sidney Torch & his Orchestra [2:29]
Charles Williams (1893-1978)
Spring Flowers 
Queens Hall Light Orchestra conducted by the composer [1:35]
Victor Schertzinger arr. Robert Farnon (1917-2005)
One Morning in May
Robert Farnon & his Orchestra [3:19]
Charles Kentbury, real name Dennis Barry 
June Bride
Dolf Van Der Linden & his Metropole Orchestra [3:05]
Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
Heat Wave 
Kingsway Promenade Orchestra conducted by Stanley Black [2:08]
Eric Coates (1886-1957)
Summer AfternoonIdyll   
Eric Coates & the Symphony Orchestra [3:28]
Cecil Milner
Midsummer Gladness
Symphonia Orchestra conducted by Ludo Philipp [3:00]
Icini
Summer in Venice
Ron Goodwin & his Concert Orchestra [2:51]
Victor Herbert (1859-1924) arr. George Melachrino (1909-1965)
Indian Summer
The Melachrino Strings conducted by George Melachrino [2:28]
Peter de Rose arr. Laurie Johnson 
Blue September,
The Ambrose Orchestra conducted by Laurie Johnson [3:07]
Joseph Kosma
Autumn Leaves 
Richard Hayman & his Orchestra [3:01]
Peter de Rose
Autumn Serenade 
Roberto Inglez & his Orchestra [2:48]
Charles Hathaway
Lonely September
David Carroll & his Orchestra [2:58]
Kurt Weill (1900-1950) arr. Richard Jones 
September Song
The Pittsburgh Strings conducted by Richard Jones [3:12]
Victor Young
In a November Garden
Victor Young & his Orchestra [4:38]
Len Stevens 
Snow Shadow 
Danish State Radio Orchestra [3:01]
Claude Thornhill 
Snowfall
Leroy Holmes & his Orchestra [2:49]
Leroy Anderson  (1908-1975)
Sleigh Ride 
Ethel Smith – organ, with orchestral accompaniment [3:13]
Horace Shepherd 
Winter 
New Concert Orchestra conducted by R. de Porten  [4:08]
A Christmas Fantasy 
The Melachrino Orchestra/George Melachrino  [6:39]

 


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