This welcome addition
to the Guild series has been issued
alongside a second companion disc of
the 1940s and 1950s. The appeal in this
disc is the fresh Quickstep rhythm that
gave the Charleston and Foxtrot. Examples
of both are found embedded in various
tunes on this disc.
I fully endorse the
principles adopted by David Ades and
Alan Bunting in selecting records for
transcribing: an early Coates recording
of The Selfish Giant was
abandoned in favour of this better quality
Fuhs’ recording. Likewise, acoustic
recordings have been dropped, despite
any historic interest, for electric
recordings post-1925 when use of conventional
instruments and the better frequency
ranges began to be possible.
Eric Coates had many
facets to his musical style yet to many
is best remembered for his rousing marches.
Here we are not disappointed with the
opening Northwards, a
stirring unrelenting march, superbly
played by the Regal Cinema Orchestra
under Emanuel Starkey involving difficult
brass with repetitious triplets at speed.
Another Coates piece, The Selfish
Giant was a popular spas orchestra
item, long for its type, but very enjoyable.
Greer is one of those homely pieces
with its bustling, cheery theme depicting
domestic bliss surrounding an Afternoon
Tea. It has a familiarity of the old
Light Programme’s ‘Housewives’ Choice’.
A rather heavy rendering
of Waldteufel’s Estudiantina Waltz,
is delivered by an early London Palladium
Orchestra before it gathered its polish
under Richard Crean’s direction. I find
this Horace Sheldon version lacking
in the delicacy and subtlety it would
have received from a Viennese orchestra.
Sheldon’s performance is heavy and muddied.
Good brass maybe, but the first strings
are thin and scratchy, and the bass/euphonium
is overpowering. On some of these pieces
we come across that characteristic slur
made by the first violins and typical
of the period: it is something either
liked or disliked.
I came across Béla’s
Lustspiel Overture, in
name only, a few years ago. It is also
known as his Comedy Overture.
Béla came to England in 1874
and then in 1875 toured conducting concerts
of his music including this piece. It
became a favourite yet never having
heard it I have always wondered what
it was like. Many arrangements had been
published and it was widely played by
our salon orchestras. I find it utterly
A sprightly, snappy
Charleston number, Laughing Marionette,
is sure to get your feet a-tapping.
With Bunting’s restoration the Debroy
Band sounds superb. A raw recording
(found on You
Tube) reminds one how brittle and
poor the equalisation of the original
was. Thin trumpets are just too piercing.
The Guild track allows one to appreciate
the lush ebb and flow that puts energy
into the notes. A not unpleasant euphonium
holds the rhythm while the trumpets
and saxophones promote a 1920s feel.
All the thrill of the
circus or steam-organ fairground can
be pictured in the well-known opening
to the medley, Martial Moments.
Amongst the stirring melodies is Colonel
Bogey; it appears amongst other
American marches one cannot put a name
to, probably by Sousa, This crisp recording
with the large forces of the Coliseum
benefits from a brilliance added by
An amusing diversion
is provided by the 1894 German descriptive
fantasie, In A Clock Store
by Charles Orth. This is a wonderfully
evocative children’s piece that would
sit well in the soundtrack of a Disney
film. Its piano arrangement can be found
on the internet
but it gives little clue as to the atmosphere
that the imaginative clock-simulated
percussion of the New Light Symphony
Orchestra provides with their numerous
bells and ratchet mechanisms. Another
clock piece, Dancing Clock
has more melody and appeal for repeated
listening in a pleasantly-shaped piece
with choppy overtones.
Two more children’s
favourites are the well known Teddy
Bears’ Picnic and Parade
of the Tin Soldiers by Jessel.
The latter was a firm childhood favourite
of mine and it is very much as I remembered
it yet with the improvement of modern
An excellent find by
Ades and Bunting is the Monckton
Melodies, which are taken from
a wide number of Monckton’s shows which
ran in the first two decades of the
twentieth century. Why many of these
charming tunes have never received a
modern recording I find hard to understand.
Miss Gibbs, Girls of Gottenberg,
Quaker Girl and Dancing Mistress
are provided alongside the better known
Arcadians in this nicely organised
medley by Stanford Robinson.
Of the 1930s pieces,
I was reminded of the glorious melodies
of the show, Sunny Side Up,
which originally featured Janet Gaynor,
Marjorie White and Charles Farrell.
It opened just a few days before the
1930s began, yet its music’s popularity
spread from New York around the world
through the 1930s and 1940s. Many of
its numbers with their lasting charm
will be well known to us all.
This disc contains
much to delight those mentally tuned-in
to 'easy listening' mode. Using technical
CD mastery achieves much more than the
nostalgia of winding up the gramophone
and playing a 78 record just purchased
from the local Wireless shop. One could
add that the Guild series has ‘a living
presence’ in that requests from the
public who write in are taken seriously
and sometimes rare discs are unearthed
and offered for consideration.
Raymond J Walker