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British Light Classics
Eric COATES (1886-1957)
The Merrymakers: Miniature Overture [4:13]
Pro Arte Orchestra/Gilbert Vinter
London Suite: Knightsbridge March [4:16]
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Charles Groves
By the Sleepy Lagoon: Valse [3:03]
London Symphony Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
Calling All Workers: March [3:05]
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Reginald Kilbey
Ronald BINGE (1910-1979)
Elizabethan Serenade [3:27]
Reginald Kilbey/Studio Two Symphony Orchestra
The Watermill [3:59]
Light Music Society Orchestra Vivian Dunn
Sailing By [2:55]
John Scott Orchestra
Albert KETÈLBEY (1875-1959)
In a Persian Market [5:44]
In a Monastery Garden [5:34]
Bells across the meadows [4:48]
Ambrosian Singers and Philharmonia Orchestra/John Lanchbery
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Country Gardens - Morris Dance Tune arr. Artok [2:11]
Irish Tune from County Derry - Londonderry Air [3:30]
Mock Morris [3:42]
Shepherd's Hey - Morris Dance Tune [2:07]
Light Music Society Orchestra/Vivian Dunn
Trevor DUNCAN [Leonard Trebilko] (1924-2005)
A Little Suite March [3:05]
Light Music Society Orchestra/Vivian Dunn
Cecil ARMSTRONG-GIBBS (1889-1960)
Fancy Dress - Dance Suite op.82 arr. Wilbur [3:28]
Light Music Society Orchestra/Vivian Dunn
Charles WILLIAMS (1893-1978)
Devil's Galop [2:47]
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra
Arthur WOOD (1875-1953)
My Native Heath Suite: Barwick Green [2:46]
Sidney Torch and his Orchestra
Ray MARTIN (1918-1988)
Marching Strings [2:38]
Ray Martin and his Concert Orchestra
Robert FARNON (1917-2005)
Portrait of a Flirt [2:44]
Queen's Hall Light Orchestra/Sidney Torch
rec. 1948-78


Experience Classicsonline

Despite sub-prime economic gloom, plummeting house prices and the price of rice we’re living in good times for lovers of that well-known sub-genre, the British Light Classic. I’ve given up counting the permutations in which the phalanx of ear-titillating miniatures has wafted upon the ear of the expectant listener but Classics for Pleasure, itself redolent of more innocent times, excavates some classic performances in this well filled disc.

Whilst in Beechamesque mode may I take this opportunity soundly to thrash the anonymous sleeve note writer for his effrontery in claiming that Albert Ketèlbey’s real name was William Aston. This is a figment of someone’s imagination, one of those Leo Stokes/Leopold Stokowski moments that infiltrate popular culture with ease and leave with difficulty. This splendidly rich composer had an eminent violinist brother called Harold Ketèlbey so let’s away with the hogwash.

One might expect that Gilbert Vinter, composer himself of, amongst other things, Hunter’s Moon would lead a spry and frisky account of Eric Coates’s The Merrymakers. So it proves. Vinter of course directed the BBC Midland Light orchestra in Birmingham and was highly experienced in the ethos of music making. So too was Reginald Kilbey who leads both the Studio Two Concert Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Orchestra – the first named in Ronald Binge’s evergreen Elizabethan Serenade and the latter in Coates’s even more evergreen Calling All Workers. This last incidentally is juxtaposed with maximum potential for contrast with By the Sleepy Lagoon – a waltz therefore playfully situated next to a rousing March.

Other eminent rostrum practitioners include John Lanchbery who does the Ketèlbey honours from a much-loved LP of 1978 and Charles Groves, dashing in Coates. Vivian Dunn – long recalled as a principal director of music and bandmaster of the Royal Marines but a founding violinist in the BBC Symphony let’s not forget – turns in some attractive Grainger and the catchy Trevor Duncan piece as well. This egalitarian sounding composer really was shielding his real name, Leonard Trebilko, from greater publicity. So too was that other splendid violinist-light orchestral conductor Charles Williams who made Zonophone 78s in the 1920s. This pukka sounding gent, bringing his Dick Barton so resonantly to life for a generation and more, was actually born Isaac Cozerbreit and made some solo violin discs for Zonophone. 

Plenty more to amuse and invigorate of course; nostalgia runs riot in the “Bonus tracks” section though I’m not sure as to why thus taking the disc to a reasonable seventy-four minute playing time should be accounted a “bonus.” But those of you who warmed your bones on the gruel of the times should enjoy the theme tunes to Top of the Form, The Archers, In Town Tonight (a frisky Sidney Torch in charge of proceedings) and that bastion of the seafaring race, the Late Night Shipping Forecast.

Jonathan Woolf


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