A bright and breezy collection culled from various sources in
the EMI archives, and most welcome it is too, complimenting, as
it does, the wonderful Light Music series from Guild, for it gives
us more recent recordings of some old favourites.
Ketèlbey was once as famous as Elgar, indeed,
the older composer praised a Piano Sonata written by the
11 year old Ketèlbey, but, unlike Elgar, he became a millionaire because of his music.
In more recent times critics have been scathing about these trifles
but in performances as good as these directed by John Lanchbery
they seem quite fresh, and they emphasise a real feel for the
period. Nothing wrong with that. It’s this slightly faded charm
which is so endearing about his work. How can you fail to go weak
at the knees at the sound of the bird calls in In a Monastery
Garden? It would melt even the hardest heart.
It’s impossible to hear Devil’s Galop without thinking of the
radio series which used the music as its signature tune – Dick
Barton, Special Agent. The music seems to embody the exploits
of ex-Commando Captain Richard Barton who, on a daily basis, with the help
of his mates Jock Anderson and Snowy White, solve a bewildering
variety of crimes and undertake much derring–do! Strangely, Devil’s
Galop wasn’t written for the serial but was composed as a
piece for a Recorded Music Library where it was
discovered by chance and it fitted the radio programme like a
glove. Williams and his players give a belting performance!
Calling All Workers was used as the signature
music for the BBC music programme Music While You Work.
Begun in June 1940 with the intention of helping the war effort, it had been
realised that the productivity of manual labour could be raised
by offering a non-stop medley of popular music played at an
even tempo, to accompany the working day in factories. Coates’s
bright march was the perfect introduction.
By is one of Binge’s loveliest inspirations, played daily, and still
going, to introduce the BBC’s late night shipping forecast,
who can forget the marvelous names we are treated to? – beginning
Viking, North Utsire, South
Utsire… Scott’s orchestra give a delightfully
Light Music Society Orchestra and Vivian Dunn have the lion’s
share of this disk. And quite right too. I have long cherished
their LPs of British light music and this is a good example
of those marvelous discs. The Grainger pieces are stylish and
rhythmically crisp and bright – most exciting is the very full
orchestral version of Shepherd’s Hey, where the ending is full
of fireworks. Binge’s The Watermill and Armstrong Gibbs’s
Dusk are simply charming. Let’s have more re–issues of
these wonderful LPs – their recording of Ernest Tomlinson’s
First Suite of English Folk-Dances must be heard again.
and Vinter each give stylish Coates interpretations and Farnon’s
famous Portrait of a Flirt is given a boisterous performance
by the great Sidney Torch, who also directs a free–wheeling
performance of Arthur Wood’s only known piece Barwick Green
from his Suite My Native Heath – which should be given
in its entirety for it is a true delight.
Marching Strings, with its surprising stamping moment,
is great fun and Kilbey gives a sweetly pleasant Elizabethan
Serenade. Special mention must be made of Charles Groves’s
elegant performances of two of Eric Coates’s most famous marches
from his two London Suites. Especially enjoyable is his
suave phrasing of the great tune in Knightsbridge.
is music to cherish and enjoy and these performances are top
notch. The sound is generally very good – some of the extras
are of an older vintage and thus sound more boxy but don’t let
that worry you, the transfers are excellent. The notes are brief
but give enough information about the collection. Don’t be without
this scrumptious disk.
see also Review
by Jonathan Woolf