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The Golden Age of Light Music – And at the Piano …
Full track-listing below
rec. c. 1949 - 1962
GUILD GLCD5229 [75:05]

This is a follow up to Guild’s The Pianist in the Spotlight [GLCD 5173] and once again the focus falls on the concertante role assumed by the many pianists featured in this wide-ranging disc.  Ten of the selections are in stereo.

As ever Guild’s selection panel of knowledgeable maestri (Alan Bunting, in this case) has included pieces that showcase the variety of light music to be heard on both sides of the Atlantic on a variety of labels. If Skitch Henderson’s version of On the Sunny Side of the Street is daffier than anything, then it only goes to show that the genre was not stuffy and could contain multitudes. The vogue for the pocket piano concerto that thrived after the Warsaw Concerto can be encountered a few times here, not least in the Autumn Concerto, composed by Camillo Bargoni, arranged by Brian Fahey and played by Russ Conway with Michael Collins and his orchestra. Another famed practitioner of the light arts at the piano was Peter Nero – a Gershwin specialist - whose warm touch is most attractive in Scarlet Ribbons. He is alive and still playing at the time of writing. Nero recorded often but he was outgunned in this respect, at least, by America’s most recorded light music player, Bill Snyder, who is here on a c.1956 US Decca.

A superior arrangement comes from the pen of Morton Gould who arranged, and plays, All the Things You Are in a way that is both allusive and satisfying. It’s intriguing to hear Dolores Ventura in a slinky version of Copacabana Samba: Tony Clayden’s entertaining and thorough notes tell us that biographical details regarding her are scarce but that she was married to oboist Ivor Slaney and played in the violin section of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for a short time. Along with less well-known performers such as Ventura – heard on the unusual Valiant LP label – there are big beasts of the genre. Percy Faith directs the two-piano team of Stan Freeman and Bernie Leighton in a misbegotten arrangement – with heroically awful wordless vocal chorus – of Kitten on the Keys. Veteran fiddler Charles Williams gives us a companion to The Dream of Olwen in the shape of the Romantic Rhapsody.  

It’s good to hear Semprini, who goes Latino, and the elite duo of Rawicz and Landauer with Robert Farnon – could casting get much more luxury? – in Little Miss Molly. To add to the pleasure, it’s a Farnon tune, arranged by Landauer.  Ray Turner sparkles with David Rose in a luscious performance of Swedish Rhapsody and genial Joe ‘Mr Piano’ Henderson  does his thing in Cheek to Cheek. Roberto Inglez – Scottish-born despite the name – plays Distancia and the disc ends with a riotous Beer Barrel Polka (ie Roll out the Barrel) played by the Liberace brothers, George directing the orchestra and his younger brother Lee dishing out the good times at the piano stool.

I have no time to mention some omitted pianists – Winifred Atwell, Art Waner, and Carmen Cavallaro amongst them. There are plenty of riches here for the listener in this fine conspectus.

Jonathan Woolf

Full track-listing
1. On The Sunny Side Of The Street - Jimmy McHugh - SKITCH HENDERSON (piano) with Orchestra [1:59]
2. Autumn Concerto - Camillo Bargoni, arr. Brian Fahey - RUSS CONWAY (piano) with MICHAEL COLLINS & HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA [3:20]
3. Manhattan (featured in the film "The Eddy Duchin Story") - Richard Rodgers - CARMEN CAVALLARO (piano) with MORRIS STOLOFF & HIS ORCHESTRA [4:43]
4. Scarlet Ribbons - Evelyn Danzig, Jack Segal - PETER NERO (piano) with MARTY GOLD & HIS ORCHESTRA [2:55]
5. All The Things You Are (from "Very Warm For May") - Jerome Kern, arr. Morton Gould MORTON GOULD (piano) & HIS ORCHESTRA [5:58]
6. Diamond Dust - Peter De Rose, Domenico Savino - BILL SNYDER (piano) & HIS ORCHESTRA [2:51]
7. Smoky Eyes - Peggy Stuart - PEGGY STUART (piano) with Orchestra [2:31]
8. Copacabana Samba - Joseph F Kuhn - DOLORES VENTURA (piano) with THE CARNIVAL ORCHESTRA [2:32]
9. They Didn’t Believe Me (from "The Girl from Utah") - Jerome Kern - ART WANER (piano) with THE LATIN QUARTER ORCHESTRA [2:36]
10. Kitten On The Keys - Zes Confrey, arr. Percy Faith - PERCY FAITH & HIS ORCHESTRA, STAN FREEMAN & BERNIE LEIGHTON (pianos) [2:26]
11. Romantic Rhapsody - Charles Williams - CHARLES WILLIAMS & HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA, ARTHUR SANDFORD (piano) [2:49]
12. Parakeet – Lobsa - ALBERT SEMPRINI (piano) with Orchestra [2:23]
13. Song Of The Sea (Cancion Del Mar) - Ferrer Trinidade - WINFRED ATWELL (piano) with FRANK CHACKSFIELD & HIS ORCHESTRA [2:56]
14. The Singing Piano - Tolchard Evans - RON GOODWIN & HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA [2:43]
15. Jealous Lover (also known as "Theme from The Apartment") - Charles Williams CHARLES WILLIAMS & HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA Piano - ARTHUR DULAY[3:48]
16. Little Miss Molly - Robert Farnon, arr. Walter Landauer- MARYAN RAWICZ AND WALTER LANDAUER (pianos) with ROBERT FARNON & HIS ORCHESTRA [3:28]
17. Swedish Rhapsody - Charles Wilding - DAVID ROSE & HIS ORCHESTRA, RAY TURNER (piano) [3:05]
18. Night And Day (from "The Gay Divorcee") - Cole Porter - PETER NERO (piano) with MARTY GOLD & HIS ORCHESTRA [3:09]
19. Pixie Holiday - Harry Sukman - VICTOR YOUNG & HIS ORCHESTRA, HARRY SUKMAN (piano) [2:51]
20. Lucy’s Theme From "Parrish"- Max Steiner - GEORGE GREELEY (piano) & HIS ORCHESTRA [2:05]
21. Cheek To Cheek (from "Top Hat") - Irving Berlin - JOE “Mr Piano” HENDERSON (piano) with BILL SHEPHERD & HIS ORCHESTRA [2:30]
22. I’m In The Mood For Love - Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields - ARTHUR FERRANTE & LOUIS TEICHER (pianos) with Orchestra [2:20]
23 Distancia – Bolero - Marino Pinto, Mario Rossi - ROBERTO INGLEZ (piano) & HIS ORCHESTRA [2:59]
24. Melody Of Love - Hans Engelmann - STANLEY BLACK (piano) & HIS ROMANTIC MUSIC [2:20]
25. Beer Barrel Polka - Jaromír Vejvoda - WLADZIU VALENTI LIBERACE (piano) with GEORGE LIBERACE & HIS ORCHESTRA [2:38]


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