Regis here presents the listener with a perfect introduction
to British (Australian!) Light Music. These historical recordings
cover a diverse group of composers; however most of the tunes
will be familiar, if not by title then by ‘sound’. Enthusiasts
of the genre will probably have umpteen examples of each of
these pieces in their CD or iPod libraries. However, for someone
wishing to explore the field there could be no better place
There are many Light Music recordings these days: I recall some
thirty years ago trying to track down a copy of Robert Farnon’s
Portrait of a Flirt. I eventually found one on an obscure
cassette tape! Nowadays there are seven versions listed on Arkiv
and no doubt many more lurking in compilations.
Recordings of this type of musical work tend to come in two
guises: one is ‘historical’ and the other is freshly minted.
Ronald Corp’s adventures on Hyperion
are a good example of the latter, whereas the massive cycle
of Guild Light Music CDs reflects the huge interest in the former.
The present collection has been lightly ‘themed’. The first
‘part’ includes works by a number of composers, the second has
six well-known pieces by Eric Coates and finally there are four
tunes by the Australian composer, Percy Grainger.
Many light music pieces have been used in TV or Radio programmes
as ‘signature’ tunes. Appropriately these are detailed in the
liner-notes. I confess that some are before my time! However
many are still in use such as Coates’ ‘Sleepy Lagoon’ for Desert
Island Discs, and Arthur Wood’s ‘Barwick Green’ for The
Archers. Special highlights include Robert Farnon’s rarely
heard ‘swinging’ piece ‘Sunny-Side Up’. Another gem is the London
Transport Suite by Sidney Torch. Here we can enjoy the
escapades of travel in the Capital from an earlier day. ‘The
Hansom Cab’ rattles down the Strand, ‘Rosie the Red Omnibus’
waits for passengers outside Harrods and the shoppers are on-board
the ‘5.52 from Victorloo’! Intellectuals will enjoy Ray Martin’s
‘Marching Strings’ which was used in Top of the Form!
Detective-novel enthusiasts will relish Charles Williams’ once
ubiquitous ‘Devil’s Galop’ that featured in Dick Barton,
Special Agent. I had not come across Ron Goodwin’s ‘Red
Cloak’, with its lavish Iberian mood: it is an impressive little
piece. Finally there’s Angela Morley’s romantic ‘Starlight’
- the perfect complement to Farnon’s ‘Flirt’.
Eric Coates is well represented with extracts from his two fine
London Suites – the Knightsbridge March and
the equally catchy, but less often heard Oxford Street March.
I particularly enjoyed the hard-to-find Television March
dating from 1946 (also Avie,
– the early days of ‘telly’ indeed. The Merrymakers Overture
is a little gem which really epitomises the genre; it was composed
as early as 1922. All the Coates pieces are recordings of the
composer conducting the London Philharmonic or Symphony Orchestras.
So they are, in many ways, definitive, although I do wonder
if they were ‘paced’ to fit on one side of a 78rpm record.
It is a little unusual to include Percy Grainger in a compilation
such as this – especially with four pieces (see also Mercury).
However these ‘favourites’ performed by Frederick Fennell and
the Eastman-Rochester ‘Pops’ Orchestra will allay any concerns.
Whatever genre they fall into these are four little masterpieces.
And Grainger did spend time on London, so he could perhaps be
regarded as an ‘honorary’ Englishman’ – at least for the purposes
of this CD! I especially enjoyed Molly on the Shore,
although Country Gardens and the Londonderry Air
are by far the best known pieces.
This CD is billed as ‘super budget’ and certainly at £5.50 is
attractive value for money. The liner-notes are helpful and
the programme is broad. Finally the sound quality of these pieces
is excellent, bearing in mind that they were ‘laid down’ between
1931 and 1960.
(1893-1978) Devil’s Galop (Dick Barton,
Special Agent) [2.48]
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra (1948)
(1917-2005) Portrait of a Flirt (In
Town Tonight) [2.43]
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Sidney Torch (1948)
Ray MARTIN (1918-1988)
Marching Strings (Top of the Form) [2.40]
Ray Martin and his Concert Orchestra (1952)
Arthur WOOD (1875-1953)
Barwick Green (The Archers) [2.47]
Sidney Torch and his Orchestra (1951)
Robert FARNON Sunny Side Up (BBC Light
Robert Farnon and his orchestra (1957)
Ron GOODWIN (1925-2003)
Red Cloak [2.36]
Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra (1957)
Sidney TORCH (1908-1990)
London Transport Suite: ‘The Hansom Cab’ [2.09];
‘Rosie The Red Omnibus’ [2.01]; ‘5.52 from Victorloo’ [2.14]
Robert Farnon and the Danish State Radio Orchestra (1957)
(1924-2009) Starlight [2.52]
Robert Farnon and the Danish State Radio Orchestra (1956)
(1916-2000) Bumps-A-Daisy [2.38]
George Siravo and his Orchestra (1956)
Eric COATES (1886-1957)
By the Sleepy Lagoon (Desert Island Discs) [3.03]
Eric Coates and the London Symphony Orchestra (1940)
Television March [3.21]
Eric Coates and the London Symphony Orchestra (1946)
Knightsbridge March from London Suite [4.17]
Eric Coates and London Philharmonic Orchestra (1933)
The Merrymakers, Miniature Overture [4.13]
Eric Coates and the London Symphony Orchestra (1931)
Calling All Workers (Music While You Work) [3.05]
Eric Coates and the London Symphony Orchestra (1940)
Oxford Street March from London Again Suite
Eric Coates and the Symphony Orchestra (1936)
(1882-1961) Country Gardens [2.14];
Shepherd’s Hey [2.07]; Molly on the Shore
[4.26] Londonderry Air [3.35]
Frederick Fennell and the Eastman-Rochester ‘Pops’ Orchestra
Dates refer to recording, not composition.