The Golden Age of Light Music: Lightly Classical
Nikolay RIMSKY–KORSAKOV (1844 1908): Flight Of The Bumble Bee, from The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1900) (arranged by Ralph STERLING, pseudonym for David CARROLL, pseudonym for Rodell Walter “Nook” SCHREIER (1913 – 2008)) [1:24]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918): Clair De Lune, from Suite bergamasque (1890) (arranged by Ralph Sterling) [4:34]
Gustav HOLST (1874 – 1934): The Dargason from St Paul’s Suite, op.29/2 (1912) (arranged by Angela MORLEY (at that time known as Wally STOTT)) (1924 - 2009)) [3:06]
William WALTON (1902 – 1983): Popular Song from “Façade” Suite No.2 (1922 – 1938) [2:22]
Mitchell PARISH (1900 – 1993), Peter de ROSE (1900 – 1953) and Bert A SHEFTER (1902 – 1999): The Lamp Is Low (based on Maurice RAVEL’s (1875 – 1937) Pavane (1899)) (arranged by Frank de VOL (1911 – 1999)?) [2:45]
Franz LEHÁR (1870 – 1948): Gipsy Love – Waltz (arranged by Sidney TORCH (pseudonym for Sidney TORCHINSKY (1908 – 1990)) [5:33]
Stanley BLACK (pseudonym for Solomon SCHWARTZ) (1913 – 2002): Overture To A Costume Comedy (1947) [3:51]
Portrait Of Clare, from the film Portrait Of Clare, transcribed and arranged from Robert SCHUMANN’s (1810 – 1856) Devotion by Felton RAPLEY [3:16]
Alexandre LUIGINI (1850 – 1906): Finale from Ballet Egyptien (1875) [2:40]
Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893): Barcarolle (arranged by Philip GREEN (1911 – 1992)) [3:00]
Robert FARNON (1917 – 2005): Lake Of The Woods [7:52]
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903 – 1978): Waltz from Masquerade Suite (1944) [3:35]
Dorchas COCHRAN (c.1903 – 1991) and Ralph STERLING: Beyond The Moonlight, based on Felix MENDELSSOHN’s (1809 – 1847) On Wings Of Song [2:34]
Alexander BORODIN (1833 – 1887) (arranged by Robert WRIGHT (1914 – 2005) and George FORREST (1915 – 1999) He’s In Love from Kismet (1953) based on Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor (1869 – 1887) (arranged by Percy FAITH (1908 – 1976)) [2:49]
Edvard GRIEG (1843 – 1907): Last Spring, op.34/2 (1880) [4:21]
Dimitri KABALEVSKY (1904 – 1987): Comedians’ Galop, op.26/2 (1938 – 1940) [2:10]
Haydn WOOD (1882 – 1959): Brown Bird Singing [2:59]
Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY: Theme from Swan Lake (arranged by Ray CONNIFF) [2:44]
Jules MASSENET (1842 – 1912): Meditation from Thais (arranged and adapted by Herman CLEBANOFF and W ROBINSON) [2:58]
Aram KHACHATURIAN: Sabre Dance from Gayaneh (1942 rev 1952 rev 1957) [2:41]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 – 1971): The Firebird Ballet (1910) – Dance Of The Princesses [4:12], Dance Of Kastchei [3:04] and Berceuse and Finale [4:16] (arranged by David ROSE (1910 – 1990))
David Carroll (Beyond the Moonlight), Pierre Challet (Rimsky and Debussy), Frank de Vol (Ravel), Percy Faith (Borodin), Philip Green (Tchaikovsky Barcarolle), Ronnie Munro (Luigini), David Rose (Stravinsky), Wally Stott (Holst), Sidney Torch (Lehár), John Scott Trotter (Sabre Dance) and Charles Williams (Schumann), all conducting “his” Orchestra; Ray Conniff and his Orchestra and Chorus (Swan Lake); Clebanoff Strings (Massenet); Leslie Jones and his Orchestra of London (Farnon); Eric Jupp and the Melodi Strings (Wood); Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra, conducted by Robert Farnon (Kabalevsky); The Merlachrino Strings, conducted by George Melachrino (Grieg); London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pierino Gamba (Black); Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by William Walton (Walton); Philharmonic–Symphony Orchestra of New York, conducted by Andre Kostelanetz (Masquerade Waltz)
Re–issues of 78 rpm and stereo and mono LP records, recorded between 1942 and 1959 ADD
GUILD GLCD 5172 [79:34]
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Three well deserved cheers for this fantastic collection – it’s one of the most entertaining from this source. And what a variety of music we are offered!
Rimsky’s Bumble Bee is a real mover in this performance, the poor thing’s wings must have hurt when he landed – and it must be a male bee for no female bee would rush quite like this. Clair De Lune is exactly what it should be, were it written for Hollywood, but it never goes over the top as it so easily could.
The finale from Holst’s St Paul’s Suite is given a very breezy performance by Angela Morley, and, although it claims to be an arrangement I fail to hear it, and my score proved it – I wonder what this could mean? Walton’s Popular Song is as delightful as ever – and deserving of a place in such a collection – and the first revelation for me was the popular song based on Ravel’s stately Pavane for a Dead Infanta. I was intrigued as to how Ravel’s beautiful little dance could be so transformed into a different medium with such ease. I’d like to hear it with lyrics to see how it works in its “original” format.
The classics are plundered, as you’d expect in such a collection as this. Schumann’s Devotion sounds as English as anything to come out of Elstree and Mendelssohn could never have imagined his On Wings Of Song receiving such rich handling. Tchaikovsky receives “the treatment” twice. Barcarolle becomes a piece of mood music and the “theme” from Swan Lake, the famous Swan theme, here has a chorus and off-beat guitar chords. Meditation from Thais is a lovely interlude for violin and orchestra but here it’s a piano solo, then a swooping string arrangement, culminating with the fiddle. Irreverent these arrangements may be, but they are great fun.
I was particularly taken with Sidney Torch’s arrangement of Franz Lehár’s Gipsy Love, marvellously infused with Magyar sounds and spirit before letting go in a modern-sounding waltz. The Finale from Luigini’s Ballet Egyptien is great fun, memories of Wilson, Keppel and Betty – there were many Bettys over the years – abound. The Waltz from Khachaturian’s Masquerade Suite is very fleet of foot, surely too fast for dancing, and his Sabre Dance seems quite small-scale by comparison with the composer’s own version. But we mustn’t forget that this has been made for a more commercial market than the Russian’s ballet. Kabalevsky’s Galop from his Comedians Suite includes a super part for xylophone – perhaps this was issued because, in the days of spa concerts, a xylophone solo would have been regular fare.
More seriously, Grieg’s Last Spring is a touching interlude, Robert Farnon’s Lake Of The Woods is an intermezzo in the Delius mould, Haydn Wood’s Brown Bird Singing appears in a beautiful sub-Delian orchestral hue. One of the best of the original works is Stanley Black’s very Schubertian Overture To A Costume Comedy. This is a perfect piece of light music which marries a good tune to a good idea and carries it out with aplomb and total affection for the style it celebrates.
The biggest surprise is kept for the end. I have no problem with the fact that the great Igor Stravinsky should appear in the Golden Age of Light Music series, for he did write a few things which would seem to be real contenders for inclusion – the Scherzo à la Russe or the Circus Polka, for instance, but four excerpts from The Firebird might seem a ballet step too far. But here’s the clever part – the dances are performed in arrangements by David Rose! Dance Of The Princesses (the Princesses Round Dance) starts, more or less, as you’d expect but when the saxophones enter we’re in another world. Here Stravinsky meets swing. Likewise the version of Dance of Kastchei (Infernal Dance of the Subjects of King Kaschei), there’s certainly nothing really infernal about this dance; I wondered if Kaschei had become a bobby–soxer! Rose’s editing of this piece is fascinating. The Berceuse has a nice lazy swing to it – I especially like the walking bass, not to mention the Laura–style brass refrain. The Finale has a jaunty air to it – everybody here lives happily ever after! It’s known that Igor liked his cash – I wonder how well he was paid for allowing this arrangement? This is so enjoyable as to be worth the price of the disk alone.
Fantastic stuff. Great programming, good variety and every track a winner. What more can you want?
Bob Briggs
Every track a winner.