The Golden Age of Light Music: The Composer Conducts - Volume 2
March from 'Things To Come' (Music from the film) (Arthur Bliss) LSO/Arthur Bliss [3:38]
'Pinky' Music from the film (Alfred Newman) Alfred Newman and his orchestra [3:11]
Scherzofrenia (from Symphony No. 5½ - 'A Symphony For Fun') (Don Gillis)
New Symphony Orchestra of London/Don Gillis [2:56]
State Occasion (Robert Farnon) Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Robert Farnon [2:54]
Dawn Fantasy (Peter Yorke) – Peter Yorke and his concert orchestra with Arthur Sandford (piano) [5:28]
'The League Of Gentlemen' Music from the film - Golden Fleece Theme [2:38] and
League Of Gentlemen March [2:48] (Philip Green) Pinewood Studio Orchestra/Philip Green
Salute The Soldier (Eric Coates) LSO/Eric Coates [3:22]
Les Jeux (Playing) (George Melachrino) Melachrino Strings/George Melachrino [4:27]
Amethyst March (soundtrack recording from the film 'Yangtse Incident') (Leighton Lucas) Leighton Lucas and his orchestra [2:40]
Strings In The Mood (Walter Collins) London Promenade Orchestra/Walter Collins [2:29]
Naval Occasion (Hubert Clifford) Melodi Light Orchestra/Hubert Clifford [3:11]
'The Dancing Years' - Three Ballet Tunes (Ivor Novello) Drury Lane Theatre Orchestra/Ivor Novello [2:37]
International Sports March (Sidney Torch) Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Sidney Torch [3:10]
Rendezvous With Curzon - Cachucha from 'In Malaga' Suite, Maid Marian from 'Robin Hood' Suite, Bravada, Serenade Of A Clown, March Of The Bowmen from 'Robin Hood' Suite (Frederic Curzon) New Concert Orchestra/Frederic Curzon [8:18]
Selection of Radio Novelty Tunes - Fairy On The Clock, Soldier On The Shelf, The Queen Was In The Parlour, Butterflies In The Rain, Little Dutch Clock (Montague Ewing) Montague Ewing (piano) with Novelty Band [3:08]
Three Dale Dances (Suite founded on Yorkshire Folk Tunes) (Arthur Wood) Arthur Wood and his orchestra [3:16 + 2:00 + 2:02]
Wedgewood Blue (Albert William Ketèlbey) Albert William Ketèlbey (piano) and his concert orchestra [3:45]
Thrills (Charles Ancliffe) Charles Ancliffe and his orchestra [3:16]
Cornish Rhapsody (featured in the film 'Love Story') (Hubert Bath) LSO/Hubert Bath with Harriet Cohen (piano) [6:03]
rec. 1930-60
I listened in tandem to the first two volumes – more to come? – in Guild’s The Composer Conducts sub-series. There’s a distinct division however between the two volumes as this one is rather more classically, if lightly classically, oriented than its companion disc. Thus we have some evocative watercolours from Arthur Wood, film music from Arthur Bliss, novelty cheek from the naughty symphony of Don Gillis, and a pocket battleship film concerto of the sort that British composers did so well in the 1940s. As if this isn’t enough there’s a decidedly nice booklet reproduction of some poster artwork; Terence Cueno’s The Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash – which was built by Brunel and spans the River Tamar, linking Devon and Cornwall.
One thing on which one can rely is that Guild’s compilers will get things off to a flying start. Bliss’s March from Things to Come does just that and it’s followed by an immediate contrast – Alfred Newman’s music for the film Pinky. Having thus established diametrically opposite functions of film music, we move onwards. We get the ‘Scherzofrenia’ from Gillis’s Symphony No. 5½ - Guild has already presented the opening movement in another of its discs; are we going to get the lot in instalments? There’s a very Waltonian State Occasion by Robert Farnon, as well as Philip Green’s The League of Gentlemen and Leighton Lucas’s film music for Yangtse Incident, which also have their share of Walton influence. There’s a cod-Rachmaninovian moment or two courtesy of Peter Yorke’s Dawn Fantasy.
Eric Coates is here, conducting his stirring Salute the Soldier, recorded on what I take to be HMV’s private JG (yellow?) label. Ivor Novello is charm personified in music from The Dancing Years, which is a bit like Façade in places. Frederic Curzon is common to both these volumes and his Rendezvous with Curzon is a medley of superbly orchestrated entertainment recorded in 1946 by Boosey & Hawkes. There’s another medley courtesy of Montague Ewing and his Novelty Band – peppy little band, this. The notes, by David Ades, naturally excellent, remind us that Arthur Wood twice recorded his Woodland Sketches acoustically. I certainly know of one recording, for Columbia in June 1920, but not the other. Wood recorded My Native Heath as well on two 10” Columbias around 1924. He was a sensitive, pastoral tunesmith. Talking of tunesmiths, up pops a real pioneer, Ketèlbey, to regale us with his famous, and oft-reissued Wedgewood Blue. Finally we end with that pocket piano concerto; Harriet Cohen plays Hubert Bath’s Cornish Rhapsody (from the film Love Story).
There are some big names here, mostly culled from British light music maestri, and some excellent music. Labels include Chappell, Paxton, and Rex, in addition to Big Boys such as HMV, Mercury and Decca, and it’s always good to see such a balance being honoured. There’s an unusually wide spread of recording dates, too; 1930-60. Something for everyone, really.
Jonathan Woolf
Something for everyone, really.