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Golden Age of Light Music - Great Light Orchestras Salute Gershwin and Kern
Jerome KERN (1885–1945) 
Look For The Silver Lining (from “Sally”(1920)); They Didn’t Believe Me (from “The Girl From Utah” (1914)); Long Ago And Far Away (from film “Cover Girl” (1944))
George GERSHWIN (1898–1937)
Love Walked In (from “The Goldwyn Follies” (1938)) arranged by Robert FARNON
Jerome KERN
Why Was I Born (from “Sweet Adeline” (1929))
A Fine Romance (from film “Swing Time” (1936)) arranged by Johnny DOUGLAS
George GERSHWIN
For You, For Me, For Evermore (from film “The Shocking Miss Pilgrim” (1947)) arranged by Percy FAITH
Jerome KERN
Who (from “Sunny” 1925); I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star (from “Music In The Air” (1932)) arranged by Angela MORLEY
George GERSHWIN
Embraceable You (from “Girl Crazy” (1930))
Fascinating Rhythm (from “Lady Be Good” (1924))
Jerome KERN
Can’t Help Singing (title song from film (1944))
George GERSHWIN
Strike Up the Band (title song from musical (1927))
Jerome KERN
Lovely To Look At – Film Selection
George GERSHWIN
Liza (from “Show Girl” (1929)) arranged by Richard JONES
Jerome KERN
Long Ago And Far Away (from film “Cover Girl” (1944)) arranged by Gordon JENKINS
George GERSHWIN
Rhapsody In Blue (1924)
Jerome KERN
Can I Forget You (from “High, Wide and Handsome” (1937))
The Way You Look Tonight (from film “Swing Time” (1936)) arranged by Ron GOODWIN
George GERSHWIN
George Gershwin Suite (Gershwin)
Danish State Radio Entertainment Orchestra/Kai Mortensen (Strike Up The Band);
Johnny Douglas (A Fine Romance), Percy Faith (For You, For Me, For Evermore), Robert Farnon (Love Walked In), Gordon Jenkins (Long Ago And Far Away), Frank Perkins (Embraceable You), Andre Kostelanetz (Kern Medley and Fascinating Rhythm), Glenn Osser (Can I Forget You); David Rose (Why Was I Born) all with their “own” orchestra; Ron Goodwin (The Way You Look Tonight), Louis Levy (Gershwin Suite), Ray Martin (Lovely To Look At) all with their “own” Concert Orchestra; Philip Green and his Concert Orchestra, with Ronnie Selney (piano) (Rhapsody In Blue); Kingsway Promenade Orchestra/Stanley Black (Kern Medley); The Melachrino Orchestra/George Melachrino (Can’t Help Singing); The Pittsburgh Strings/Richard Jones (Liza)
Re-issues from 78 rpm discs and early 33 rpm LPs, recorded between 1945 and 1957 ADD
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5148 [76:33]

 

Experience Classicsonline


This series just goes from strength to strength! Recently I had the pleasurable task of writing about music arranged for what we call Military Band (Bandstand in the Park – Volume 2 GLCD5147 - see review) – the kind of thing we heard when we were kids but which no longer exist due to most bandstands in parks having fallen into disrepair. Most enjoyable that was too! Now Guild gives us a fabulous tribute to two of the greatest Broadway and Hollywood composers. 

On hearing of the death of Gershwin, writer John O’Hara said, “George Gershwin is dead, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” The same comment could be applied to Jerome Kern and, thanks to recordings, their work lives on and they still live for us today and for future generations. As long as people love great melodies like these, the work of their composers, and thus the men themselves, will always live for us. 

Starting with a very typical Kostelanetz arrangement of three of the very greatest Kern melodies – some lovely use of the trombone consort in They Didn’t Believe Me and a technicolour Long Ago And Far Away with a dreamy coda – we move into a marvellous Robert Farnon arrangement of Love Walked In, with a delicious solo for the cor anglais.

The (David Rose, I assume) arrangement of Why Was I Born starts as if we’re somewhere on 10th Avenue waiting for a slaughter, then the music relaxes and it’s a rich and full blown sound from the orchestra. 

Johnny Douglas’s arrangement of A Fine Romance has the feel of the salon about it, very nice. The Shocking Miss Pilgrim is a film made in 1947 and used tunes Gershwin had left unused, and unfinished, at the time of his death. Kay Starr and others pieced the music together and the ever reliable Ira Gershwin put lyrics to the music. Percy Faith’s version of the lovely For You, For Me, For Evermore is, in general, quite retrained, with some lovely work for solo strings.

Frank Perkins gives Embraceable You a straight forward reading and Kostelanetz delivers a very daring Fascinating Rhythm, with pizzicato strings to the fore. The tempo isn’t fast but the rhythm still fascinates! Can’t Help Singing is a gorgeous waltz tune given lovely treatment by George Melachrino, understated and just right. The arrangement of Strike Up the Band is quite unusual in that it has no military references in it whatsoever! No drum tattoos, nothing. It concentrates entirely on the tune. No problems there for me.

As far as I can remember, the film Lovely To Look At overuses that great tune. Not here. This medley of the film’s songs treats them with great respect, each tune being given an orchestration which suits them down to the ground, and not one outstays its welcome and makes you want more. The proof of great work.

The Philadelphia Strings give a warm account of Liza and Gordon Jenkins’s arrangement of Long Ago And Far Away is quite heartbreaking. What a fine song this is! Then comes a truncated version of Rhapsody in Blue which, I suppose, was cut to six and an half minutes in order to fit on two sides of a 78rpm disc. Ronnie Selney plays well, and we get the “best bits” in this whistle–stop tour of Gershwin’s masterpiece; the opening, the ensuing fast section, the big tune and a brief coda. It’s very enjoyable!

Glenn Osser’s performance of Kern’s Can I Forget You is another string dominated arrangement, and Ron Goodwin’s arrangement of The Way You Look Tonight (Fred and Ginger again) is beautiful and delightful. Louis Levy’s Gershwin Medley, whilst rather long, is a very nice stroll through his greatest tunes in very enjoyable orchestrations.

I’ve kept mention of the very best for last. Kern’s Who and I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star appear in a whirlwind arrangement by the very great Angela Morley. This is typical Morley, very racy and virtuoso in its use of the orchestra.

Another success in this fascinating series.

Bob Briggs


 


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