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July 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /July01/

The Songs of Ivor NOVELLO (50th Anniversary Tribute)  
Artists include: Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, John McCormack, Gracie Fields, Jack Buchanan, Mary Ellis, Trefor Jones, Elisabeth Welch, Edgar Elmes, Vanessa Lee and Richard Tauber
  ASV CD AJA 5396   [77:36]

Ivor Novello

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Ivor Novello (1893-1951). He was much loved as composer, playright, actor, producer and matinee-idol; his songs and shows highly popular in the 1930s and 1940s. It is often forgotten that he was once a successful film star and was perceived as a likely successor to Richard Barthelmess or Ramon Navarro. His silent screen appearances included: The Man Without Desire (1923), The Rat (1925), The Constant Nymph and The Vortex (both 1928). But it is for his tremendously successful stage productions that he will be remembered. His first great musical success came in 1935 with Glamorous Night followed by The Dancing Years (1939) Perchance to Dream (1945) and King’s Rhapsody (1949 later filmed with Errol Flynn and Anna Neagle).

This is an album that will bring back many memories, and perhaps a tear or two for more elderly ladies. It is amazing how well most of these captivating melodies have worn. Who could resist the glorious ‘Glamorous Night (Deep in My Heart)’, Shine through My Dreams’, ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’, the stirring ‘Rose of England’ and ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning' (a very early World War I hit), ‘Fold Your Wings’, ‘Love is My Reason’ the colourful ‘When the Gypsy Played’ and the lovely ‘The Violin Began to Play’ and ‘Waltz of My Heart (The Lark is on High)’. The artists listed in the header vouchsafe the quality of the performances. The singing of Mary Ellis is particularly affecting. She is joined by Ivor himself (in dialogue from The Dancing Years) in one of his most popular numbers, ‘My Dearest Dear'. Another highlight is the comic song ‘And Her Mother Came Too' sung with that marvellous sense of ennui we associated with Jack Buchanan. The one orchestral item, ‘The Leap Year Waltz’ is a pure delight. And it is nice to hear once again the golden voice of Richard Tauber.

Of course there are a few numbers that have not worn so well and now make one cringe such as the twee ‘Bless You’ and the awful duet ‘The Wings of Sleep’ and ‘Shanty Town’ might not be terribly politically correct nowadays.

But all in all this is a fitting and moving tribute to a great British talent.

Ian Lace


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