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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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The Golden Age Of Light Music
Bandstand In The Park – Volume 2
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD 5147
[78:40]

Experience Classicsonline


Eric COATES (1886 – 1957) The Dam Busters – Film Theme (1954)
DAVIS Jenny Wren
Robert FARNON (1917 – 2005) Smiles ‘N’ Chuckles
Jaime TEXIDOR (1884 – 1957) Amparito Roca (1925)
Ronald BINGE (1910 – 1979) Flash Harry
Arthur PRYOR (1870 – 1942) The Whistler and his Dog (1905)
John Philip SOUSA (1854 – 1932) High School Cadets
Easthope MARTIN (1882 – 1925) Evensong
John BELTON (pseudonym for Tony LOWRY and Douglas BROWNSMITH (1902 – 1965)) Down the Mall (1927)
P BEECHFIELD-CARVER The Jolly Airman
Harry PARR-DAVIS (1914 – 1955) Sing As We Go (1934)
Jack STRACHEY (1894 – 1972) Eros in Piccadilly
Eric COATES Knightsbridge (from London Suite)
Eduard WAGNES Die Bosniaken Kommen
Joseph BERGEIM Music in the Park
Arnold STECK (pseudonym for Major Leslie STATHAM MBE) (1905 – 1974) Royal Review
Vivian DUNN (1908 – 1995) Cockleshell Heroes – Film Theme
Hermann STARKE With Sword and Lance
Edrich SIEBERT (pseudonym for Stanley SMITH–MASTER) (1903 – 1984) Over the Sticks
Tony LOWRY Golden Spurs
James L TARVER (b 1916) El Charro
Kenneth J ALFORD (pseudonym for Frederick Joseph RICKETTS) (1881 – 1945) The Great Little Army (1916)
Roger BARSOTTI (b 1901) New Post Horn Galop
A E SIMS March of the Royal Air Forces Association
Karl KOMZAK (1850 – 1905) Vindobona
Alexander BORODIN (1833 – 1887), arranged by Dan GODFREY (1868 – 1939) Prince Igor Ballet Dances (1869/1887)
Band of H M Grenadier Guards/Capt George Miller (Knightsbridge, Starke); Band of The Queen’s Royal Regiment/Roger Barsotti (Barsotti); Band of The Royal Marines School Of Music/Vivian Dunn (Dunn); Band of The Royal Netherlands Navy/Capt G Nieuwland (Lowry, Steck); BBC Wireless Military Band/B Walton O'Donnell (Borodin, Martin, Parr-Davies); Black Diamonds Band (Pryor); CWS (Manchester) Band/Alex Mortimer (Siebert); Deutschmeister Kapelle/Julius Herrmann (Komzak, Wagnes); Fodens Motor Works Band (Belton); Grand Massed Bands/James Oliver (Alford, Sousa); Grenadier Guards Band/Major F J Harris (Binge, Tarver, Texidor); Irish Guards Band (Bergeim); William Lang (Cornet Solo) Black Dyke Mills Band/Arthur O Pearce (Davis); New Era Symphonic Band/Michael John (Farnon); The RAF Central Band/Squadron Leader A E Sims (Beechfield-Carver, Dam Busters, Sims, Strachey)
Transferred from various 78 rpm discs recorded between 1929 and1955 ADD
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD 5147 [78:40]

Seemingly long gone are the balmy hot summer Sundays when every local park had a well kept bandstand which boasted live music from an ensemble, brass or military, where light classical was the fare – and we loved it! But it’s not that long ago! Who can forget the scene in The Ipcress File (1965) where the traitor Major Dalby meets Harry Palmer whilst the band plays an arrangement of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro Overture? That’s the kind of music this disk celebrates.

Starting with a vital performance of the March, The Dam Busters which Eric Coates wrote, but actually didn’t write, for the film of the same name! When Coates received the commission to write the theme music he told the studio that he had recently completed a new march and would it suit their purposes? It did, and it’s now impossible to think of the film without that great tune coming to mind. But how easily it could have been called March, Leytonstone High Road. Would it have the popularity it now has had it had that title? Ultimately who cares, it’s a great piece of music and it receives a fine performance here.

Jenny Wren is the typical kind of cornet solo which was always heard on those lazy Sunday afternoons in the park. Farnon’s Smiles ‘N’ Chuckles is a glorious piece of nonsense, full of wah–wah mutes and smooth saxes.

The first novelty, as Henry Wood had it, is Jaime Texidor’s Amparito Roca. Jaime Texidor Dalmau was born in Barcelona, and was a saxophonist who subsequently conducted the Banda Música del regimiento 68, Melilla and the Banda del Círculo Instructivo Musical, Valencia. With his experience he was well equipped to write for band and this is a marvellous example of an up–tempo dance piece.

Flash Harry was the musicians nick–name for Malcolm Sargent but whether Binge’s jolly work has anything to do with that person is anybody’s guess. This is great fun. The Whistler and his Dog is a well known piece but who can name its composer? I wonder which member of the Black Diamonds Band did the sound effects? Sousa’s High School Cadets is a quick march, new to me, and given a really bouncy performance by the Massed Bands. Martin’s Evensong is a beautiful work which easily lends itself to the sustained sound of wind band. Down the Mall is a jaunty march which was a big success on its appearance. Incidentally, Brownsmith and Lowry, the joint composers hidden behind the pseudonym, both worked in the 1930s as arrangers for the BBC Dance Band when it was under the directorship of Henry Hall.

The Jolly Airman is another up–beat march–cum–quickstep. Harry Parr Davies had a short career but still managed to create some of the most memorable songs for British films in the years leading up to World War II, the best known being Pedro the Fisherman, Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye and Sing as You Go: this last was introduced by Gracie Fields in the film of the same name. He also wrote several songs for George Formby Films.

Jack Strachey is probably best known for the delightful In Party Mood. Eros is Piccadilly is like taking a fast stroll round the Circus and taking in the various sights. Eric Coates’s Knightsbridge March is, perhaps, the least successful performance here for I feel that it does need strings to play the marvellous melody he has written, clarinets simply don’t do it for me here. It’s a fine arrangement whether I like it or not!

Die Bosniaken Kommen and Music in the Park are excellent examples of strutting marches, while Royal Review is a much more impressive piece of work, majestic and serious.

Lieutenant–Colonel Sir Vivian Dunn studied conducting under Henry Wood and B Walton O’Donnell and as a violinist he was a founder member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Aged only 22 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Marines as director of music for the Portsmouth Division of the Corps. He was appointed lieutenant–colonel and director of music for the Royal Marines in 1953. He was the first military musician to be knighted. Dunn was a reluctant composer but the march Cockleshell Heroes, written the film of the same name, is a fine example of the real military march written by someone who knew this kind of music inside–out.

With Sword and Lance is a very conventional march but Over the Sticks is an hilarious evocation of a chase (after the fox, perhaps) complete with the posthorn call. Golden Spurs is much in the manner of the early Grandstand TV title music.

James L Tarver was born in del Rio, Texas and as a trumpeter played in dance and military bands as well as orchestras. As a composer he has written extensively for wind band. El Charro is a very obvious south–of–the–border piece.

Known as the British March King, Kenneth J Alford wrote a lot of marches which are always entertaining, the best known being Colonel Bogey. The Great Little Army was the name given to the British Expeditionary Force – the British Army sent to the Western Front in France and Belgium on the outbreak of World War I. The same name was later given to the British Forces in Europe from 1939 to 1940.

Roger Barsotti was, for fifteen years, bandmaster of the Queen’s Royal Regiment, then for 22 years bandmaster of the London Metropolitan Police Band. More recently, Barsotti wrote Motorsport - the theme music for BBC1’s F1 coverage. He wrote much music for band including marches, galops and novelty numbers – xylophone solos and the like – and his New Post Horn Galop is a brisk romp punctuated by the post horn call. Sims’s March of the Royal Air Forces Association contains a wonderful piccolo solo, in the manner of Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever.

Vindobona is a solid and dependable composition, complete with masses of cymbals and drums. The disk ends with Dan Godfrey’s superb arrangement of the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s opera Prince Igor. What a performance it is! Virtuoso playing from all sections of the band but what else would you expect from the BBC Wireless Military Band and its conductor B Walton O'Donnell at the height of their powers in 1934? And in excellent sound too!

This is a slightly different kind of programming compared to much of the rest of this series but then the subject demands that. It’s a most engaging collection of pieces, some you’d never hear these days, and their rehabilitation on this disk is most welcome. Despite the age of many of the recordings the sound is very good indeed – they’ve all been cleaned up without any loss of bloom in the top most register. Perhaps this won’t be welcomed by as many listeners as some of the others in this light music series, but it is most enjoyable and very well worth investigating.

Bob Briggs


 


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