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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
in this fascinating series.