Cheero! for orchestra [1:58]
In the Shadows [4:06]
Hullo, Girls! for orchestra [2:43]
My Waltz Queen [3:22]
Jocoso for orchestra [2:48]
Dear old fighting boys [5:41]
Pirouette (dedicated to Anne
Venetia (from Decameron Nights) [4:51]
My Lady Dragonfly – Ballet Suite [15:44]
The K-Nuts Medley – including Gilbert the Filbert
and I’ll make a Man of you yet [3:16]
Queen of Flowers [3:36]
Moonlight Dance for orchestra [3:50]
Decameron Nights - Orchestral Suite [13:46]
I first came across Herman Finck in an album of piano pieces.
After much effort, I managed to plough my way through his waltz,
In the Shadows. It is not that difficult, although there
are a few passages where it is very easy to stumble. Somewhere
in the past, I have heard an orchestral version of this tune
– possibly on one of the Guild Light Music series. However,
apart from that he has been a closed book to me – and I guess
to many other folk too. Yet, that was not always the case. According
to the liner notes, his was once a household name.
His biography is easy to locate on Wikipedia and is given in
the liner-notes. However, a couple of headlines will not go
amiss. In spite of the German-sounding name, he was born in
London on 4 November 1872 – the same year as Ralph Vaughan Williams!
He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, before
embarking on a career as musical director at the Palace Theatre
in London. He was to remain there for twenty years. Other posts
at this time included principal conductor at the Queen’s Theatre
and also the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Additionally he travelled
to the Lancashire coast to conduct concerts in the seaside town
of Southport. Alongside his conducting, he wrote a considerable
corpus of music including scores for the theatre, for silent
movies and for the concert hall. Many of these diverse pieces
are recorded on this present CD. Herman Fink died shortly before
the outbreak of the Second World War on 21 April 1939.
The present CD is an excellent cross-section of Fink’s music.
A variety of genres are explored including the purely orchestral,
extracts from his revues and musicals and a number of ‘patriotic’
songs from the Great War.
Two of his musicals are characterised by the ballet from My
Lady Dragonfly and the operetta Decameron Nights.
They are competent examples of the (extremely) light music genre
presented on this CD. Songs from the revues such as The
Passing Show and Round the Map are represented
by Queen of the Flowers and Gilbert the Filbert.
Dances include Hullo Girls, which was composed for
the Palace Theatre, and Pirouette, written for Anna
Stylistically, do not expect Edward Elgar, Edward German or
Haydn Wood. This music is good, well written and enjoyable:
however, it is largely ephemeral. I guess the nearest thing
would be music written for the annual pantomime or possibly
for a television series. Yet, when all is said and done, this
CD is a piece of musical archaeology: it is exciting to unearth
it some 90-odd years after it was composed.
Divine Arts has made an excellent release with their exploration
of Herman Finck. They have captured the mood and the spirit
of the Edwardian and Georgian times. The singers and the band
sound perfectly home in the music hall and end-of-pier environment
– and that is not a slight or criticism. The performers are
all from the Bel-Etage Theatre in Tallinn, Estonia, which was
itself an old music-hall. The company is well regarded in its
championship of British music including Gilbert & Sullivan
and Lionel Monckton. They support a ballet troupe and two orchestras
who fulfil many engagements at home and abroad.
The sound quality is good. The liner-notes are sufficient and
have a number of evocative images and photographs, including
the cover of the sheet music to In the Shadows. I look
forward to subsequent releases from this accomplished group.
Finally, the waltz that I learnt to play all those years ago
has an interesting history. Originally composed for the Palace
Girls at the eponymous theatre it was called Goodnight
– however, it was later changed to In the Shadows.
Finally, this was one of the last numbers played by the orchestra
on the Titanic before she sank. It is played on this CD in its
vocal waltz incarnation.
see also review
by Jonathan Woolf