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CD: Crotchet

The Golden Age of Light Music: Highly Strung
see end of review for details
rec. 1946-59; re-issues from 78 rpm discs and 33 rpm LP records. ADD
GUILD GLCD5166 [77:38]

Experience Classicsonline

Another great selection from Guild, full of the most delicious things. George French’s title piece, Highly Strung, is a wild scherzo in the manner of David Rose’s Holiday for Strings, with lots of swirling string movement and great support from the brass and winds. Jack Mason’s Pops Polka is a typical Boston rush and Steve Race’s Ring Ding has a touch of Latin about it. Very nice.

I am a big fan of Roger Roger, and it’s good to have his racy Paris Pullman here, perhaps not exactly highly strung but it does have a great string tune. David Rose’s compositions really do grow on you, and Gay Spirits is a delightful concoction which has some splendid pizzicato writing, not to mention a lovely violin solo. Bob Farnon’s Little Miss Molly has a Ravelian fairytale quality about it. It’s a delightful miniature with a prominent part for flute. Lovely. Zez Confrey, sans both kitten and keys, but armed with a xylophone delivers a good tune, with great orchestration - especially in the middle section for piano with a guitar or banjo in the background! Alex North is a much underrated composer and I welcome this excerpt from his music for The Wonderful Country - Americana at its very best. Charles Williams’s Toy Violin is a perfect pizzicato study. Fred Hartley’s Jack In The Box is a lovely piece of chamber music swing - of the kind sometimes offered by Alec Wilder.

Song of Lisbon is the kind of music you’d hear in a Mexican-set western of yesteryear, “we go to de cantina and drink wiz dee greengos”, and the cool sax of the late Johnny Dankworth graces Philip Green’s theme from Sapphire - a fine composition. Gaste’s Le Soir is a sleepy cor anglais and strings duet which is followed by a sterling Ronald Binge arrangement of Harry Warren’s (known, quite rightly, as ‘Mr Hollywood Musical’) Afraid To Dream, a beautiful song very well served by its arranger. The illustrious Clive Richardson, under a pseudonym, gives us a lovely string melody with the additional of a trumpet with felt mute. This is a lovely relaxed desert island thing.

OK, so I’ve gone to my favourites first, but can you blame me? If I didn’t it would be impossible to know where to start. For the rest there are pleasures aplenty. Schick’s Sheerline is made of the finest denier. Cry Of The Wild Goose is a bongo-driven flight, a fabulous Philip Green arrangement here. Cesana’s Whirlwind is a depiction of the wind, with romantic music in the middle, how strange this is; perhaps he had a film scene in mind. It was Cole Porter who introduced the world to the beguine and here Frank Chacksfield offers a rather lovely one, with a haunting theme, not to be forgotten in a hurry. Debussy wrote a Marche écossaise and to match it, another Frenchman crosses Hadrian’s Wall and gives us a Gigue Ecossaise, which is great fun. Ron Goodwin’s All Strung Up has the feel of the coffee bar to it, but no Teds are in evidence. Perpetual Notion, a nice title, is reminiscent of Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On The Town.

For the rest, the most important is probably Adolph Deutsch’s underscore from Some Like It Hot, a real slice of Hollywood, but with a most unsatisfactory, inconclusive ending. But that’s the trouble with underscore. It comes and suddenly it’s gone!

Guild has done it again, compiling a fascinating collection of pieces in excellent sound, and with helpful, but not exhaustive, notes. I have a list of pieces I’d love them to do and my mouth waters at what delights they will come up with next. As ever, I am all anticipation. This is an invaluable series.

Bob Briggs 

Jack MASON (1906 - 1965) Pops Polka [2:47]
Steve RACE (1921 - 2009) Ring Ding [2:33]
George FRENCH Highly Strung (1959) [2:17]
Carlos ROCHA Song Of Lisbon - Sempre Que Lisboa Canta; [2:34]
Roger ROGER (1911 - 1995) Paris Pullman [2:35]
Philip GREEN (1911 - 1992) Sapphire (theme from the film) [2:51]
Louis Felix Marie GASTÉ Le Soir (I’d Love To Fall Asleep) [3:06]
Mack GORDON (1904 - 1959) and Harry REVEL (1905 - 1958) Afraid To Dream (arranged by Ronald BINGE (1910 - 1979)) [2:59]
Fred HARTLEY (1905 - 1980) Jack In The Box [2:17]
David ROSE (1910 - 1990) Gay Spirits [2:37]
Kurt SCHICK Sheerline [2:38]
Robert FARNON (1917 - 2005) Little Miss Molly [3:01]
Zez CONFREY (1895 - 1971) Stumbling [2:12]
Terry GILKYSON (1916 - 1999) Cry Of The Wild Goose (1950) (arranged by Philip GREEN) [2:30]
Otto CESANA Whirlwind [3:14]
Bernie WAYNE (pseudonym for Bernard WEITZNER) (1919 - 1993): Life In New York [2:49]
Frank CHACKSFIELD (1914 - 1995) Sunshine Beguine [2:42]
Gérard CALVI (pseudonym for Grégoire Elie KRETTKY) (b.1922) Gigue Ecossaise (Scottish Jig) [2:45]
Paul DUBOIS (pseudonym for Clive RICHARDSON) (1909 - 1998) Sentimental Magic [3:12]
Ron GOODWIN (1925 - 2003) All Strung Up [2:22]
Mikis Michel THEODORAKIS (b.1925) The Honeymoon Song (from the film Honeymoon (1959)) [2:21]
Albert MARLAND ((1904 - 1976) Limelight Waltz [2:38]
Rudolf FRIML (1879 - 1972) Ma Belle (from The Three Musketeers (1928)) [2:03]
Alex NORTH (1910 - 1991) The Wonderful Country (theme from the film) [2:13]
Charles WILLIAMS (predunym for Isaac COZERBREIT) (1893 - 1978) Toy Violin [1:26]
Mitchell PARISH (1900 - 1993) and Frank SIGNORELLI (1901 - 1975) A Blues Serenade [2:43]
Percy FAITH (1908 - 1976) Perpetual Notion [3:30]
Irving BERLIN (1888 - 1989) A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody (1919) (arranged by Peter YORKE (1902 - 1966) [3:28]
Adolph DEUTSCH (1987 - 1980) Park Avenue Fantasy (underscore from film soundtrack Some Like It Hot (1959)) [4:03]
Ronald Binge (GORDON/REVEL), Gérard Calvi (CALVI), Otto Cesana (CESANA), Percy Faith (FAITH), Ron Goodwin (GOODWIN), Morton Gould (CONFREY), Philip Green (GILKYSON), Eric Jupp (ROCHA), Monty Kelly (WAYNE), Groff Love (Friml), David Rose (ROSE), Boris Sarbek (GASTÉ), Axel Stordahl (PARISH/SIGNORELLI) all conducting “their own”orchestras; Peter Yorke and his Concert Orchestra (BERLIN); Fred Hartley and his Music (HARTLEY); Manuel (pseudonym for Geoff Love) and the Music of the Mountains (Theodorakis); Boston Pops Orchestra/Arthur Fiedler (MASON); Group-Forty Orchestra/Eric Cook (FRENCH and MARLAND); Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra/Mitchell Powell (NORTH); The Knightsbridge Strings (RACE); Pinewood Studio Orchestra/Philip Green featuring Johnny Dankworth (saxophone) (GREEN); The Paris Studio Orchestra/Philippe Pares (ROGER); Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams (WILLIAMS); Studio Orchestra/Adolph Deutsch (DEUTSCH); The Symphonica Orchestra/Curt Andersen (SCHICK and Chacksfield); Telecast Orchestra/ Charles Williams (DUBOIS and FARNON)



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