08 Jul

CD Review – Manhattan to Montmartre

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CD REVIEW   Manhatten to MontmatreCD Review – Manhattan to Montmartre
Gershwin and Bernstein
Julian Jacobson, Mariko Brown piano duo

Somm SOMMCD 0635 [72:30]

Recorded in August 2020, this is another non-orchestral release possibly brought about by the Covid lockdown – and another successful foray into our kind of music for the enterprising award-winning Somm label.

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03 Jul

Vernon Anderson – (1936 – 2021)

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VERNON ANDERSONIt is with profound sadness that we record the death of Vernon Anderson, who peacefully passed away on June 15th, after a period of ill health borne with great courage and dignity.

A native of Benfleet, Essex, Vernon was educated at Bearwood Royal Navy School in Berkshire and saw military service with the RAF, being stationed in the (then) British colony of Aden (now Yemen). Returning to Benfleet, he became a member of the Barking Choral Society, where he met his future wife Beryl and they married in 1971. Sadly, Beryl passed away in 2005, after having been cared for by Vernon during her terminal illness.

During the 1980s and 1990s, he worked as an Architectural Technician for the London Borough of Newham, but took early retirement. He then volunteered as a care assistant with the Alzheimer's Society and eventually became employed by that organisation.

Vernon had been a stalwart member of the Robert Farnon Society, attending almost every meeting for many years, and regularly presenting as well. He enjoyed, and had a wide knowledge of, many different musical genres, including of course Light Music, particularly that of Robert Farnon and his contemporaries. One of his great 'loves' was jazz piano and he often championed the brilliant playing of the very talented Scottish pianist Bill McGuffie.

I was always very appreciative of Vernon's assistance at RFS events, for he frequently helped me to dismantle, pack away and load the Audio-Visual equipment into my vehicle at the end of each afternoon's programme. It gave us a good opportunity to talk about music – and architecture, another of our mutual interests.

Although more recently he was no longer able to attend the London meetings at the Lancaster Hall Hotel, we kept in intermittent touch by telephone. I visited him during the summer of 2020 at his home near Ilford, just before he relocated to assisted living accommodation in Basildon. He was later hospitalised, before ultimately being moved into a nearby high-dependency nursing home, in March 2021.

Vernon was a thorough gentleman – and indeed a very gentle man. It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to know him and he will be greatly missed. On behalf of all former RFS members and LLMMG attendees, our sincere condolences are extended to his daughters Lynda and Claire and his son Keith – who, back in the 90s, also supported the Robert Farnon Society meetings at the Bonnington Hotel.

© Tony Clayden June 2021

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03 Jul

Violin On Stage - Bomsori Kim (violin)

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CD REVIEW   BOMSORICD Review – Bomsori
Violin On Stage
Bomsori Kim (violin)
NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic | Giancarlo Guerrero
DG 4860788 [72:56]

To those who have already come across her, Bomsori Kim is recognized as one of today's most dynamic and exciting violinists. She won prizes at ten international violin competitions during the 2010s, and is a superstar in her homeland of South Korea. She was given her distinctive first name by her grandfather – it translates literally as 'sound of spring', although she was actually born in December 1989.

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19 Jun

CD Review – Tine Thing Helseth & Kåre Nordstoga

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Magical Memories for Trumpet and Organ
Lawo Classics LWC1216 [67:50]

'This is the third album by a trio of female trumpet players – Alison Balsom and Lucienne Renaudin Vary being the others – I have had the pleasure of reviewing here. Tine Thing Helseth (born 1987) is a Norwegian soloist, who has been the recipient of critical praise across six continents and numerous awards for her musical work.

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30 May

CD Review – Favourite Orchestral Classics

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CD REVIEW   Favourite Orchestral Classics html ddf5f0d58eb1805bPhilharmonic Concert Orchestra / Iain Sutherland
SOMM ARIADNE 5012 [78’25”]

My review of the last album by these artistes* finished with "… let us hope that Iain might have some more similar tapes in his archive", and here we are: 19 tracks recorded in Munich (June 1988) and Hanover (December 1992). Few conductors are as accomplished as the veteran Scot in the lighter orchestral music on this release.

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21 May

CD Review – French Duets

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CD REVIEW   French DuetsPaul Lewis / Steven Osborne
Hyperion CDA68329 [68’28]

This is a critically acclaimed album of five impeccably played pieces by a pair of princes of the piano. They are long-playing duo partners: Paul Lewis (born 1972) is from Liverpool and a recipient of a CBE for services to music, and Steven Osborne (born 1971) is Scottish and a celebrated performer of Gallic music with 29 Hyperion releases in 21 years to his credit.

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19 May

Sarah Vaughan

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By Robert Walton

It may seem obvious but the best test for a voice, first and foremost, is the sound it produces. Nothing else. If you love the resonance a vocalist can produce, a load of gobbledygook will tell you more about the artist than all the phrasing and lyrics a wordsmith can conjure up.

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Sarah Vaughan
By Robert Walton

It may seem obvious but the best test for a voice, first and foremost, is the sound it produces. Nothing else. If you love the resonance a vocalist can produce, a load of gobbledygook will tell you more about the artist than all the phrasing and lyrics a wordsmith can conjure up.

In the case of Sarah Vaughan just imagine a thorough free range wallow on the instrument she was born with (Newark, New Jersey 1924) and you have the nearest thing to an opera singer in jazz. To an outsider her basic style, like Frank Sinatra’s, might be misinterpreted as overdoing the sentimental bit, like suffering. The older generation totally rejected that 1940s tendency of sounding miserable. This might have been slight exaggeration but there’s an element of truth in it. Of course “anything goes” is the byword when studying a voice of Vaughan’s calibre. The possibilities are endless. Scales, arpeggios, ducking and diving, improvising, in fact everything. And Vaughan who was more than capable of exercising the vocal chords just like a trapeze artist took risks, never missing a trick.

And talking of her own personal technology like Italian singers and the general public of that country, she ends words, especially the high long ones, with a clear cut-off point echoing the sheer power generated just to get the note airborne. She may have been a mistress of jazz but she sang some of the old fashioned ballads like a trooper. Because, one of my Lanza favourites, is given a fabulous treatment and has the listener guessing, will she go for the final high note? She does and it comes off magnificently. And keeping us aware of Climate Change, Oscar Rasbach’s ballad Trees showing off her contralto ability is the best female version I know. I only wish she had tried some Puccini. On the other hand she could swing like mad and her pitch was absolutely perfect. Wrap your Troubles in Dreams is an excellent example of relaxed swing with a Dave Pell-like small group. A good up-tempo standard with a conventional big band is This Can’t be Love. She really was the complete all rounder. I don’t think even the great Jo Stafford had the richness and control.

And while we’re on the subject of Stafford, her duets with Gordon MacRae are legendary and noted for their soft-hued matching. Sarah Vaughan’s partner was Billy Eckstine who again blended perfectly with her.

When she was 7, Sarah Lois began having piano and organ lessons useful for the local church, but she soon realized singing was her major passion. Her big break came in a 1942 amateur talent contest at the Apollo Theatre with the prize of a week’s employment on the bill with none other than Ella Fitzgerald. For a jazz singer this was the ultimate dream. Earl Hines saw her, hired her and suddenly she was singing with Charlie Parker, Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie which brought her to bebop.

In her heyday she regularly topped all the jazz charts like Downbeat Magazine and was generally considered the best in her field. Consequently she was imitated by many other vocalists, but very few equaled her. Just to hear that unique vibrato was one of life’s musical treats.

So far in this article, Vaughan’s tracks have been taken from an EMI Music for Pleasure album titled “20 Jazz Classics” MFP 6160. But there is still one aspect of her singing we haven’t yet tackled......sensitivity. There really is only one album in her repertoire, which concentrates on that aspect. That’s the 12 track LP she made with Robert Farnon and the Svend Saaby Danish Choir in Copenhagen in 1963, “Vaughan with Voices”. (Mercury 20014 MCL) The way she warmed to Farnon’s beautiful arrangements is now history. One of them happened to be the arranger’s own composition How Beautiful is Night. Vaughan, Farnon and the Choir merged in a perfect threesome giving the tune a definitive outing never again achieved on disc.

So effectively two famous ladies were in town at the same time. The first, the permanent fixture of “The Little Mermaid” bronze statue displayed nearby on a rock by the Copenhagen waterside, and a visiting giant of jazz, coloratura soprano Sarah Vaughan.

Proving yet again Sarah Vaughan could easily switch from one genre to another, her finest recording was the unlikely light orchestral composition Serenata by Leroy Anderson. In the key of F, listen to the lovely chord of Fmaj 9 sung each time on the word “stand”. Only “The Divine One” could capture it quite so dramatically. Crossover artist extraordinaire!

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09 May

CD Review – Dutilleux

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Le Loup
Sinfonia of London | John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5263 [56’23”]

On setting out to review this release I thought it might only be of interest to those who are admirers of John Wilson and his magnificent orchestra. Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013), although I recognised the name, his music was completely unfamiliar to me. It is a small body of work including ballet, two symphonies, chamber, incidental and film music (this last qualifying him for inclusion here).

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01 May

Isle Of Innisfree

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(Richard Farrelly)
Analysed by Robert Walton

Most folk songs are the work of unknown composers or instrumentalists but because they are part of our ancient heritage many names which existed are now long forgotten.

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.