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The Golden Age of Light Music
By Special Request: Percy Faith and Robert Farnon:
Full track-listing below
rec. c.1948-62
GUILD GLCD5217 [77:17]

Contrasts: From the 1960s back to the 1920s – Volume 1
Full track-listing below
rec. 1929-62
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5218 [72:13]

Guild is now running a ‘By Special Request’ sub-series in its Light Music marque, which often as not couples two eminent practitioners. Here they are the two Fs: Faith and Farnon. Each receives space for twelve tracks, recorded between 1948 and 1962.
 
The repertoire is mixed. In Percy Faith’s case we hear Jule Styne’s energetic Ride Through the Night – an excellent opener - a sequence of Richard Rodgers numbers and a Gershwin tune. There are also a trio of Faith’s own compositions. Most enjoyable is the sinuous saxophone that snakes its way through Faith’s Carefree and the most beautiful and sympathetic arrangement of the traditional song La Golondrina. Augustin Lara’s Granada gets an appropriately brash and vigorous reading but so too does a slightly less obvious offering, Sixteen Going On Seventeen (from The Sound Of Music) with nice winds and apt pizzicati, and a big butch sax solo. Latino percussion animates Chico Bolero, a slightly cheeky Faith offering, but I could have done without the sax in Rodgers’s I Enjoy Being A Girl where it sounds a bit sleazy. The violin solo is much better.
 
Farnon’s discs offer much pleasure for label connoisseurs; Everest, Liberty, Decca, Chappell, London, Philips, and Delyse. What a range of companies there were to spin the Light Music magic across the globe. There’s also a good range of material here. The Irving Berlin show-tune The Girl On The Police Gazette is boldly done but he is sympathetic and deft in the traditional tunes St. Patrick's Day and The Gentle Maiden. He contributes the earliest recording, the c. 1948 All Sports March, a rugged piece of manly Englishness that he wrote himself and recorded with the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra. The rich lyricism of his Blue Moment – one of the many pieces he recorded with the Danish State Radio Orchestra – is perhaps more characteristic and it’s sheer pleasure to hear the many rich and clever orchestral touches that makes Ray Noble’s romantic The Touch of Your Lips sound even more so. To end his selection, and indeed the disc, we venture to the High Seas for bold nauticalia: his own splendid music for Captain Horatio Hornblower, R.N. It ends the disc with verve and panache.

With Contrasts, there’s a back to the future feel, with time’s wingèd chariot working in reverse. We start in 1962 and end up back in 1929, something of a reversal of normal programming practice but one that certainly does support the theme of ‘contrast’. Many of the musicians are very familiar from this long-running series.
 
One thing I have always noted about Guild’s releases; they certainly know how to do curtain-raisers. Cyril Ornadel gets things off to a rousing start with On Green Dolphin Street, which is now a Jazz standard but was then associated primarily with the 1947 MGM film. The arranger is the ever-excellent Brian Fahey. Domenico Modugno, who wrote Volare, contributes Ciao, Ciao Bambina in this high-octane performance courtesy of Percy Faith, though Roger Roger’s Le Cabri Mexicain is no less exciting. There’s a touch of Khachaturian about Farnon’s Alcan Highway, with an especially succulent string curve to it, but – to aid contrast – this is followed by the jokey Elephants’ Tango courtesy of Werner Müller. Back in 1955 Frank Perkins offered his fiddlers a moto perpetuo workout on Escapade. March of Events is a Jack Beaver composition played with Newsreel relish by Sidney Torch and the New Century Orchestra in 1948 – as noted, we are going further back as the disc progresses - and it’s good to see that fine pianist Billy Munn here, directing the Bosworth Ballroom Orchestra in his composition Beautiful, Lovable. It doesn’t sound especially promising but there are some good instrumentalists to be heard – saxophone, violin and piano (Munn himself?).
 
Pre-war now, and we hear a really peppy version of Eric Coates’ Knightsbridge March from Philip Green, Campoli’s Marimba Tango Orchestra, complete with Hawaiian guitar, and xylophone and vibraphone executant Harry Robbins (with Jack Hylton). Already this earlier selection shows the musical variety to be encountered in the London scene of the 1930s. Other pleasures include hearing Reginald King – a charming composer for the piano – on a Sterno 78 and two pieces – one of them Lindemann’s Sleigh Bells - played by the Athenaeum Light Orchestra on Piccadilly in 1929. There’s also an early 1929 Decca featuring a favourite light composer of mine, John Ansell – it’s the Fairy Doll from A Children’s Suite. To finish there’s the titillation of musical box frivolity from The Viennese Café Orchestra; a delightful way to end the disc - from MGM splendour all the way back to a touch of 1929 kitsch.
 
The indefatigable David Ades contributes the customarily excellent notes – has anyone written more notes in a single series? As so often, I would like a far more open sound in the transfer of the 78s, but I appreciate that there is reduced surface noise as a result. I like the concept and I like the programming conceits in this disc.
 
Jonathan Woolf

Full track-listings
By Special Request

Ride Through The Night (from 'Subways Are For Sleeping')
Jule Styne, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith And His Orchestra 2:50
 
Carefree
Percy Faith
Percy Faith And His Orchestra 2:24
 
La Golondrina (The Swallow)Traditional, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 3:46
 
Granada
Augustin Lara, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 3:20
 
Over And Over Again (from Billy Rose's 'Jumbo')
Richard Rodgers, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 4:10
 
Fascination
Fidenco Dante Marchetti, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 2:43
 
Sixteen Going On Seventeen (from 'The Sound Of Music')
Richard Rodgers, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 3:03
 
Duet
Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 2:41
 
A Cock-Eyed Optimist (from 'South Pacific')
Richard Rodgers, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 2:56
 
Chico Bolero
Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 2:55
 
Bess You Is My Woman Now (from 'Porgy and Bess')
George Gershwin, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 3:45
 
I Enjoy Being A Girl (from 'Flower Drum Song')
Richard Rodgers, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 2:48
 
The Girl On The Police Gazette (from the show 'Star And Garter')
Irving Berlin, arr. Robert Farnon
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra (LP label credits 'Jack Saunders Orchestra') 2:29
 
Moon Over Hong Kong (featured in the film 'The Road To Hong Kong')
Robert Farnon
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra 3:34
 
St. Patrick's Day; The Gentle Maiden
Traditional, arr. Robert Farnon
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra 5:00
 
Seventh Heaven
Robert Farnon
Danish State Radio Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon ('Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted by Ole Jensen' on 78 label) 2:54
 
All Sports March
Robert Farnon
Queen's Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon 2:09
 
Tangerine
Victor Schertzinger, Johnny Mercer, arr. Robert Farnon
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra 3:02
 
Blue Moment
Robert Farnon
Danish State Radio Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon ('Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted by Ole Jensen' on 78 label) 3:28
 
Dominion Day
Robert Farnon
Queen's Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon 2:15
 
In The Blue Of The Evening (original title 'Footnote To A Summer Love')
Alec Wilder, arr. Robert Farnon
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra, featuring Frank Reidy, clarinet 4:15
 
City Streets
Robert Farnon
Queen's Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon 2:11
 
The Touch Of Your Lips
Ray Noble, arr. Robert Farnon
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra 2:30
 
Captain Horatio Hornblower, R.N.' (Title theme from the film)
Robert Farnon
The London Festival Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon 4:53

Contrasts
On Green Dolphin Street
Bronislau Kaper, Ned Washington, arr. Brian Fahey
Cyril Ornadel and the Starlight Symphony 3:31
 
Ciao, Ciao Bambina
Domenico Modugno, arr. Percy Faith
Percy Faith and his Orchestra 2:33
 
Le Cabri Mexicain
Roger Roger
Roger Roger and his Orchestra 2:31
 
The Girl In Satin
Leroy Anderson
Leroy Anderson and his Orchestra 2:17
 
Focus On Fashion
Walter Stott
Telecast Orchestra conducted by Walter Stott 3:05
 
Alcan Highway
Robert Farnon
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra 2:23
 
Elephants' Tango
Bernard Landes, real name Ronald Hanmer Werner Müller and his Orchestra (as 'Ricardo Santos' on record label) 3:13
 
In Gay Mood
Cyril Watters
New Concert Orchestra conducted by Cedric Dumont 2:43
 
Due Teste Sul Cuscino
Furio Rendine
George Melachrino conducting the orchestra of the 6th San Remo Festival 3:02
 
Escapade
Frank Perkins
Frank Perkins and his 'Pops' Orchestra 2:49
 
Jezebel
Wayne Shanklin
Roberto Inglez and his Orchestra featuring Roberto Inglez at the piano 3:15
 
March Of Events
Jack Beaver, Henry Thomas Fisher
New Century Orchestra conducted by Sidney Torch 2:34
 
Beryl
Paul Desmond, real name Paul Breitenfeld
Royal Artillery Orchestra conducted by Captain Owen Geary 3:01
 
Exhilaration
Charles Williams
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra 2:39
 
Beautiful, Lovable
Billy Munn
Bosworth's Ballroom Orchestra directed by Billy Munn 2:38
 
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Traditional, arr. Peter Yorke
BBC Variety Orchestra conducted by Charles Shadwell, leader Frank Cantell 3:11
 
Knightsbridge March (from 'London Suite')
Eric Coates
Philip Green and his Orchestra 2:25
 
Romanesque Tango
Sonny Miller, Jacob Gade
Alfredo Campoli and his Marimba Tango Orchestra 3:03
 
Punch And Judy Show
Ben Black
Jack Hylton and his Orchestra featuring Harry Robbins, xylophone and vibraphone 3:02
 
Moonbeam
Leo Peter
Reginald King and his Light Orchestra 2:51
 
Waltz In Swing Time (from the film 'Swing Time')
Jerome Kern
Johnny Green and his Orchestra featuring Johnny Green at the piano 2:32
 
Sleigh Bells
Lindemann
Athenaeum Light Orchestra 2:45
 
Fairy Doll (from 'A Children's Suite')
John Ansell
Decca Light Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Ansell 2:40
 
Capricious Music Box
Joan Fresco
Athenaeum Light Orchestra 2:53
 
Frog King's Parade
Heini Kronberger, Mary Marriott
The Viennese Café Orchestra 3:16