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The Golden Age of Light Music – A Light Music Smörgåsbord
rec. 1936-62
Full contents list at end of review
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5221 [79:37]

Scandi-Light is the focus of this disc, recordings of light music made largely – though not exclusively – by orchestras such as the Tivoli Concert Hall, Stockholm Symphony, Copenhagen Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony and the like – the like being just as interesting in its way. There’s quite a history of performances of Light Music from this region, as one might expect, and anyone who has heard a box set devoted to the Orchestra of the Royal Danish Theatre on the Document label will know that pre-War years saw a slew of recordings of Lumbye, Gade and Nielsen conducted by luminaries such as Samuel Levysohn, Johann Hye Knudsen and Emil Reesen. Guild doesn’t venture quite that far back – the only pre-War track is from Arthur Fiedler in Boston in 1936 - and this makes its transfers easier on the year. Maybe a future disc could investigate those mid-century recordings of lighter music – I’m thinking especially of Knudsen’s delightful discs of Riisager, Gade and Svendsen, Thomas Jensen’s Grieg, Lange-Müller and Nielsen, Georg Høeberg’s Lumbye, and John Frandsen’s Svend Erik Tarp and Riisager.

As ever Guild has selected a fine opener in the form of Première composed by Kurt Larsson, before going on with a performance of one of the best known pieces in this selection, Kai Mortensen’s Laughing Violin. The performer, semi-authentic Hungarian-sounding fiddler Béla Sanders, turns out to have been the wholly Germanic, Hans Schubert. One feature that recurs in these recordings is the confidence of the March material – Axel Federiksen’s Copenhagen March, for instance, played by Teddy Petersen. The earliest disc, as noted, is the 1936 Boston Pops recording of Gade’s Jalousie, directed with characteristic security by Fiedler. One of the great reportorial strengths remained the music of Hans Christian Lumbye and his music is programmed throughout. I’d cite the Hesperus Valse as an index of its sheer charm, delightfully played by the Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra directed by Tippe Lumbye. Don’t overlook conductor Stig Westerberg elegantly unveiling Dag Wirén’s march from his Serenade for Strings.

A frequent flyer in this selection is the orchestra of Åke Jelving who have just the right style for the light-hearted Iberian excursion that is Einar Groth’s Don Quixote in this Anton Kotasek arrangement. A conductor, like Westerberg, better known to classical audiences is Øivin Fjelstad whose Vienna Symphony disc on Philips is represented by a choice Halvorsen delight and by Nielsen’s evergreen Masquerade Overture. Conductor Elo Magnussen encourages rustic goings-on in the traditional Dancing on the Village Green, with its knees-up chorus, on a fruity Decca F series disc from c.1954. Mantovani is on hand with Alfvén’s Swedish Rhapsody on another Decca. It’s wholly right to end with one of the Lumbye pieces that stud the disc, the delightful Champagne Galop. He remains one of the major figures in Scandinavian light music, much performed and recorded, and is an adornment in this excellently selected compilation.

Jonathan Woolf

Full Contents List

1. Première (Premiär)
Åke Jelving and his orchestra
2. Laughing Violin
Bela Sanders and his orchestra
3. Copenhagen March
Teddy Petersen and his orchestra
4. Jealousy (Jalousie)
Boston Pops Orchestra/Arthur Fiedler
5. Vagabond (Marknadsgyckel)
Hans Wahlgren and his orchestra
6. Marcia (from 'Serenade For Strings', Op.11)
Stockholm Symphony Orchestra/Stig Westerberg
7. Hesperus Valse
Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra/Tippe Lumbye
8. Conquistador Bolero
Hans Wahlgren and his orchestra
9. Krolls Balklange
Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra/Tippe Lumbye
10. Outer Skerries (Utskärgård)
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hans Wahlgren
11. Don Quixote
Åke Jelving and his orchestra
12. Masquerade Overture
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Øivin Fjelstad
13. Tivoli Vauxhall Polka
Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra/Tippe Lumbye
14. The Happy Woodchopper (Den Glade Vedhuggaren)
Åke Jelving and his orchestra
15. Globetrotter
Åke Jelving and his orchestra
16. Entry Of The Boyards (Entry March Of The Boyars)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Øivin Fjelstad
17. Dancing On The Village Green
Tivoli Promenade Orchestra/Elo Magnussen
18. Swedish Rhapsody
Mantovani and his orchestra
19. The Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop
Copenhagen Symphony Orchestra/Lavard Frisholm
20. Pierette Dances (Pierette Dansar)
Åke Jelving and his orchestra
21. Salute To August Bournonville
Copenhagen Symphony Orchestra/Lavard Frisholm
22. Sunset (Solnedgang)
Åke Jelving and his orchestra
23. Britta Polka
Copenhagen Symphony Orchestra/Lavard Frisholm
24. Champagne Galop