The Golden age of Light Music – Magical Melodies
Full track listing at end of review
Hans Georg Arlt (Berking), Bruce Campbell (Harris), David Carroll (Sterling), Otto Cesana (Cesana), Frank Chacksfield (Warren), Frank de Vol (David), Percy Faith (Tiomkin), Robert Farnon (Youmans), Harry Hoelick (as 'Rene Savard' on disc label) (Lehár), Andre Kostelanetz (Wilder), Geoff Love (Rodgers), Mantovani (Fotine), David Rose (Oakland), Ctril Stapleton (Wilson), John Scott Trotter (Goulding and Myrow), Dolf van der Linden (as 'Van Lynn' on LP) (Mellin), Paul Weston (Malneck), Lewis Williams (Conrad) all conducting “his own” Orchestra; The Conrad Salinger Orchestra/Buddt Bregman (Kern); 101 Strings/Rudolf Friml (Friml); Leslie Jones and his Orchestra of London (Farnon); The Melachrino Strings/George Melachrino (Koehler); Victor Silvester and his Silver Strings (Porter); Dolores Ventura (piano) and the Carnival Orchestra (Kuhn)
GUILD GLCD 5170 [78:23]

There are fewer better ways of starting this kind of compilation than with a piece of consummate craftsmanship, which radiates delight, written by the doyen of light music – Robert Farnon. Melody Fair is the perfect light music work, great tune, wonderful orchestration and lots of feeling. The same could be said of Rudolf Friml’s Loveliest of the Lovely, a waltz with a lissom lilt. The solo piano in the middle is a stroke of genius. Kuhn’s Carnival Tango is flavoured with some exotic percussion, and a broad violin tune. Perhaps not a particularly raucous carnival but one worth visiting! Autumn Nocturne starts with a languid sax solo, then moves into a string theme peppered with blue notes. Very appealing indeed. Warum Nur, Warum? is a simple tune with a nicely colouristic use of the harp.

Long Ago And Far Away is one of Jerome Kern’s very best tunes, and with a subtle arrangement by the great Conrad Salinger, who, if I remember correctly, John Wilson credited as being the biggest influence on him in his restoration work. This is a real winner. Cole Porter’s I've Got My Eyes On You was fist sung, and danced, by Fred Astaire, but never at this tempo! Sanity returns with Mam'selle, a delicate meditation with a nicely conceived orchestration, lovely fiddles, accordion and vibraphone.

Harry Warren was Mr Hollywood musical, spending most of his career on the west coast creating some of the film industry’s greatest songs. This arrangement of Lullaby of Broadway is very laid-back, with plentiful trombones, but oh, how I miss Wini Shaw! I'm Thru With Love is another sax solo - relaxed and sensitive stuff this, with a great section for sax choir in the middle. A fine arrangement by Paul Weston. Lovely Lady is more of the same, but with rich string writing. While We're Young is an unusual song, and an unusual arrangement but as it’s by Alec Wilder one must expect the unusual. If I Loved You isn’t as romantic as I would like it to be; after all this is an expression of love. Mind
you, the cor anglais adds some enchantment to the arrangement.

It beggars belief that a St Petersburg, Russia-trained pupil of Glazunov should have written some of the definitive Americana of the 1940s and 1950s, but that is what Dimitri Tiomkin did. Return to Paradise is a film set on an island in the South Pacific. Tiomkin’s music is languid and delicately coloured. Staying in the South Pacific, Underneath Tahitian Skies is a simple song of longing for the beautiful Polynesian island.

For the rest, we have five tracks of unreserved sensuality and relaxed meditation. Ben Oakland’s I'll Take Romance rushes across the scene and we’re off, waltzing gaily. Lehár cools the tempo but we’re till tripping the light fantastic. Kostelanetz’s version of the slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s 1st String Quartet might seem an odd choice for this disk, but it’s got all the ingredients to make a great piece of light music: tune, orchestration and a rich sound. Very lovely. One of the best things on this disk is Vincent Youmans’s Without a Song, a tender number, aided by a great Bob Farnon arrangement. It’s worth sitting through the whole disk just for this, penultimate, track. Things come to a brilliant ending with Con Conrad’s – he of The Continental fame – heated Midnight in Paris. It’s a brisk, and sensual, view of the City of Lights.

Another sensibly planned, and excellently executed collection from this label, with good notes and fine sound.

Bob Briggs

see also review by Jonathan Woolf

Full track listing:

Robert FARNON (1917 – 2005) Melody Fair [2:28]
Rudolf FRIML (1879 – 1972) Loveliest of the Lovely [3:53]
Joseph F KUHN (1924–1962) Carnival Tango [2:38]
Josef MYROW (1910 – 1987) & Kim GANNON (1900 – 1974) Autumn Nocturne [3:44]
BERKING & PAULSEN Warum Nur, Warum? (Why Just Why?) [2:22]
Jerome KERN (1885 – 1945) Long Ago And Far Away (arranged by Conrad SALINGER (1901 – 1962)) [3:39]
Cole PORTER (1891–1964) I've Got My Eyes On You (from Broadway Melody of 1940) [2:02]
Edmund GOULDING (1891 – 1959) & Mack GORDON (pseudonym for Morris GITTLER) (1904 – 1959) Mam'selle [3:37]
Al DUBIN (1891 – 1945) & Harry WARREN (1893 – 1981) Lullaby of Broadway (from Golod Diggers of 1935) [2:41]
Matt MALNECK (1903 – 1981), Fud LIVINGSTON (1906 – 1957) and Gus KAHN (1886–1941) I'm Thru With Love (arranged by Paul WESTON (1912 – 1996)) [3:19]
Jimmy McHUGH (1894 – 1969) and Ted KOEHLER (1894 - 1973) Lovely Lady [2:36]
Bill ENGVICK, Morty PALITZ and Alec WILDER (1907 – 1980) While We're Young [3:07]
Richard RODGERS (1902 – 1979) If I Loved You (from Carousel) [3:49]
Dimitri TIOMKIN (1894 – 1979) and Ned WASHINGTON (1901 – 1976) Return to Paradise (film theme) (arranged by Percy FAITH (1908 – 1976)) [6:39]
Ralph SIEGEL and Robert MELLIN Underneath Tahitian Skies [3:30]
Robert HARRIS Too Soon (arranged by Bruce CAMPBELL) [2:33]
Otto CESANA (1899-1980) Mine At Last [2:50]
Giuseppe CLOFFI and WILSON Scalinatella (Stay After School) [2:13]
Larry FOTINE Spring In Montmartre [2:26]
Dorchas COCHRAN and Ralph STERLING Tonight [2:57]
Ben OAKLAND (1907 – 1979) and Oscar HAMMERSTEIN II (1895 – 1960) I'll Take Romance [2:58]
Franz LEHÁR (1870 – 1948) Eva Waltz [2:43]
Andre KOSTELANETZ (1901 – 1980) On The Isle Of May (based on the Andante Cantabile from Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893) String Quartet in D, op.11) [2:49]
Vincent YOUMANS (1898 - 1946) Without A Song (arranged by Robert FARNON) [3:02]
Con CONRAD (1891 – 1938) and Herb MAGIDSON (1906 – 1986) Midnight in Paris (from the film 'Here's To Romance') [2:48]

Another sensibly planned, and excellently executed collection from this label.