11 Jul

Respighi : Roman Trilogy

Written by

Sinfonia Of London John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5261 (60:06)

Old friends from RFS meetings and more recent admirers of his charismatic conducting will welcome this release from John Wilson. It is his third album directing the superlative Sinfonia of London that he has re-formed with a hand-picked line-up of instrumental talent led by Andrew Haveron.

Read the review here...

Submit to Facebook
29 Jun

John White and Ralph Thompson, R.I.P.

Written by

It is our sad duty to record the deaths of two more former members of the Robert Farnon Society, both of which have occurred during the last few months.

John White was a regular attendee at RFS and then LLMMG meetings. By profession a Group Manager for London Underground, latterly at KingsCross Station, John passed away at West Middlesex Hospital in December 2019, having unfortunately suffered two strokes. He was a great devotee of Frank Sinatra and possessed a huge collection of recordings of the latter. He would be seen taking copious notes throughout our meetings and was always on the lookout for new CDs that interested him.

Ralph Thompson will be remembered by many for his video recordings of RFS meetings, particularly those which had taken place on special occasions. A civil engineer in professional life, Ralph had a number of interests, including photography and videography, cycling and old London buses, in addition to Light Music and record collecting. Regrettably, he had suffered kidney failure towards the end of 2019 and died during February of this year.

Another of our supporters, Peter Luck, was a friend of both John and Ralph, and we are obliged to Peter for providing this information.

Tony Clayden
June 2020

Submit to Facebook
25 Jun

City Lights - Lisa Batiashvili

Written by

Deutshe Grammophon 483 8586 (65.54)

This is a winner in the ‘crossover’ album stakes, taking its name from the 1931 Charlie Chaplin film. Georgian-born German Lisa Batiashvili is considered special even among the very many fine violinists of her generation, praised by both audiences and fellow musicians for her virtuosity and sensitivity.

Read the review here...

Submit to Facebook
18 Jun

George Melachrino

Written by

Vocalist
By Robert Walton

Over the years I have always been aware that string man George Melachrino was an occasional singer in the dance band world but I had never heard him, let alone seen him in that role.

Read the article here...

Submit to Facebook

Vocalist
By Robert Walton

Over the years I have always been aware that string man George Melachrino was an occasional singer in the dance band world but I had never heard him, let alone seen him in that role. He had already been employed by Ambrose, Carroll Gibbons and Bert Firman. Therefore imagine my surprise and delight at finding him on a recent video on the Internet on Google. Until then he was just a handsome face in a photo on some long forgotten record or CD disc. Now for the first time I was seeing him “live” as it were, filmed by British Pathé at the Embassy Club in 1940 with a 9-piece orchestra.

Holding his violin, he was dressed more like a Lieder singer in a Tuxedo about to render the well known Great American Songbook standard Fools Rush In. It was the completely unexpected formality of his presentation that staggered me. I thought it’d be a casual performance like a member of the band briefly leaving his chair. But this was totally out of character, like a recital from London’s Wigmore Hall. His excellent tenor voice gave the 1940 tune an almost classical treatment. I bet its writers Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom would have been amazed. This was just another example of Melachrino’s many talents. His clear voice made him more than a cut above any old crooner. And his conducting ability must have stood him in good stead for his first big studio job with the Austrian-born tenor Richard Tauber in 1945. Remember Melachrino was also a multi-instrumentalist. As well as a very good violinist he had mastered the viola, oboe, clarinet and saxophone. All these abilities made him a perfect leader of an orchestra. Rather like composer-arranger Robert Farnon who also as a multi-instrumentalist had a head start in the business.

So from a tiny violin a few inches long given to him by his stepfather, George became conductor of two of the world’s finest light orchestral combinations, the Melachrino Strings and Orchestra. In his childhood he was given manuscript paper and instead of coloured chalks, a pencil to play with. At 4 years of age he composed his first piece Up the Mountains because the pattern of the notes resembled just what it said, the title. Even then he was a class act!

After arriving back in the UK in 1965 after a holiday in New Zealand, I learnt of the sudden tragic death of the man himself which was more than a blow, because literally only the night before, I met George Melachrino’s agent in Chelsea and was about to offer some of my own tunes for the company.

Submit to Facebook
17 Jun

Like To The Lark

Written by

Jennifer Pike ● Maria Forsström
The Swedish Chamber Choir / Simon Phipps
Chandos CHSA5255 (63.54)

The main interest in this release will be The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams...

Read the review by Peter Burt here...

Submit to Facebook
12 Jun

Obituary Jim Palm

Written by

It is with regret that we record the death of former Robert Farnon Society member Jim Palm, on April 6th.

Many LLMMG supporters may remember Jim, who, back in the 90s, used to attend our London meetings. For several years he assisted David Ades with the editing of Journal Into Melody, to which he was also a regular contributor.

He hailed from Edgware, Middlesex [on the NW periphery of London] and in professional life worked for the BBC in the latter’s gramophone library.

Upon his retirement from the Corporation, he moved to Salisbury, where he amassed his own sizeable collection of recorded music, much of it comprising discs from the libraries of publishers such as Chappells and Boosey & Hawkes.

Jim had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Light Music, which was put to good use in the many articles he wrote for JIM and also for newspapers and periodicals in his locality.

Tony Clayden, June 2020

Submit to Facebook
04 Jun

Different Versions of the Same Set Light Music Selections - Another Look

Written by

As my friend Graham Miles has posted two versions of a piece by Peter Yorke entitled "Fireflies" which are distinctly different by virtue of length, I will take a moment to touch on this particular subject, as it raises some very interesting questions to which there may be myriad answers.

Read the article by William Zucker here...

Submit to Facebook

As my friend Graham Miles has posted two versions of a piece by Peter Yorke entitled "Fireflies" which are distinctly different by virtue of length, I will take a moment to touch on this particular subject, as it raises some very interesting questions to which there may be myriad answers.

In the case of two recordings of a piece that are noticeably different in length, in the sense that one has material that the other lacks, we first have to ask ourselves which came first and is the original version, to ascertain whether the composer expanded on his original, or on the other hand in the reverse eventuality, whether he cut a short portion from what he originally had, and finally, whether it was rather a matter of cutting it in the recording process to enable it to fit on the side of a 78 or 45 RPM single disc.

Whatever the truth of what may actually have occurred in these cases, it is inevitable that some subjective preference will enter into it when making a judgment.

I do not claim any position of being a final arbiter in such cases. I can only judge each instance of such on its merits as I receive them. I am already aware that there could well be opinions sharply differing from my own, but I have no choice in this matter, as these selections are not being examined as though part of a college course in composition.

To get underway with what I am referring to, I will start with Robert Farnon's "Journey into Melody." Most of us might know that the piece originally had a far more elaborate introduction, making a full circle of keys in the process. This may be heard in the piece's original recording by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra under Charles Williams. Reportedly Farnon himself decided to shorten the introduction to lead directly into the main melody, resulting in the form most of us are familiar with. For whatever reason, this was more satisfactory to him as being "better balanced" structurally, but as I am at frequent pains to point out, we do not all receive a given piece of music in the same manner individually, and of necessity would include the composer as well. I for one feel that the original extended introduction adds a searching quality at the beginning that gives it a whole new dimension, and I actually prefer the piece in that form and always so play it at the piano.

With Farnon's "Pictures in the Fire" the reverse appears to have occurred as the piece evolved, as one can note by comparing the earlier recording by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra with the later one by Farnon's own orchestra. In the process, Farnon added in a short phrase to smoothen out a transition within that central modulating section that in a previous article I had written covering this piece I had referred to as "bluesy." I feel that the piece is definitely improved by this short addition, with any feeling of abruptness evident in the earlier version completely remedied, so in this case I will prefer the piece in its later state.

But it should not be assumed from any of the above that I would always by inclination prefer a longer version of a piece when comparing two versions side by side.

To take yet another Farnon selection, "Lake of the Woods" where here too we have alternate presentations; a simpler, normal length presentation in the normal A-A-B-A form of a ballad as given by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra, and the later one by Farnon with his own orchestra as part of the album "Canadian Impressions" in which the piece is expanded out to include a whole middle section before returning to the B-A of the opening. In this case, at least for me, it is a matter if stylistic incompatibility, at least as I receive it, between this new middle section and the original outlying portions with which I have difficulty in reconciling with one another. For that reason, I will continue to prefer the shorter version on the older recording. Moreover, I see the rather veiled sound quality here as a clear advantage as obviously the purpose of this piece is to convey a certain atmosphere, not to have every last detail of it rendered vividly clear.

Haydn Wood's "Soliloquy" is another example of what I am referring to. I actually found myself in a brief dialogue with the blogger, John France on this piece and expressed my reactions to the piece and to the two versions of it.

The shorter version appears on a recording by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra under Robert Farnon; the longer version with the Slovak Radio Orchestra under Ernest Tomlinson.

As I advised Mr. France on that blog (it appears that hitherto he had been quite unaware of Farnon's shorter version), with my present information, it is quite impossible to know whether Wood expanded his piece from what he originally had, or trimmed away material from his original in the other eventuality, or perhaps Farnon in his efforts to fit the piece on the side of a single edited the piece to that end (quite expertly, one would think, if such were the case).

In any event, my preference is decidedly for the shorter version, which I invariably use when performing it. Listening to the longer version, I get the inevitable impression that it starts on an indeterminate chord in the middle of nowhere, and that the piece actually begins a few bars later. Moreover, in the reprise section, I feel that by the very nature of the material, it is quite unnecessary to go over every last bar that appeared earlier, and as I have just stated, I will continue to maintain for reasons stated my firm allegiance to the shorter version.

Some years ago, Robert Walton, one of the Society's regular contributor, wrote an essay on a piece by Edward White that I was hitherto unfamiliar, entitled "Caprice for Strings." I found it to be a rather unusual piece, but because of its rather erratic course I found that I was having difficulty in following it so that it made sense to me. At that point Tony Clayden stepped in to graciously share with both Robert and myself a recording of this same piece purporting to be the original, with additional material that was removed in the later recording.

I listened to this, and as a result of this added material I now for the first time found that I could better understand what the piece was about as the sections now held together more coherently. Moreover, some of the instrumental effects that Bob had described I could now hear for the first time, as I could not hitherto on the version that Bob had originally posted.

Further details of what I am referring to may be seen in my comments about this piece at the time it was posted.

Clive Richardson's "London Fantasia" is another example of what I am referring to. The original version was recorded by Mantovani on two sides of a 12" single disc, featuring Monia Liter at the piano, and is the only version I have cultivated, as it is the fullest version.

Richardson himself recorded it subsequently, with both Charles Williams and with Sidney Torch, and both versions have a small piece cut out. As he has recorded it in this fashion on both occasions, it must be presumed that he so preferred it for presentation, but others listening to it might very conceivably feel differently about it and would prefer it in its original form or at least it's more extended version if it came afterward.

The matter of having to economize in order to fit a selection on the side of a single disc can often necessitate some forced adjustments, some of which, in a recording I have posted of myself at the piano on both YouTube and Facebook I have actively sought to remedy.

Thus, with Percy Faith's arrangement of "If I Loved You" and David Rose's arrangements of "Why Do You Pass Me By" and "All I Desire," in each of which there is an obvious attempt to offer two presentations of the song, using existing material I have added extensions so that both presentations structurally have the full A-A-B-A scheme.

With Peter Yorke's "Blue Mink" I have added a slight extension to end the piece more smoothly so that it is not as abrupt, remembering that this is for listening purposes rather than as background music from a mood library. And in a planned second recording, I will be taking the middle slower section of Yorke's "Whipper Snapper," expanding it out to include more of the material from the faster section, being that this was the apparent intent in what is there presently, aborted due to the necessity once again of fitting the selection on the side of a single disc.

I hope that my notes have been informative and as always I will invite comments back.

William Zucker.

Submit to Facebook
01 Jun

Timeless – The David Snell Trio - Cd Review

Written by

timeless   david snell trioDavid Snell – harp , John Dean – drums , Arthur Watts - bass

Jazz harpists are a very rare breed ! Indeed, it is difficult to think of more than a handful in the entire world, nearly all hailing from the United States.

Pre- eminent amongst this select group is our own ‘home-grown’ David Snell, a consummate musician of many talents.

Read the review by Tony Clayden here...

Submit to Facebook
Page 1 of 68

Login Form RFS

Hi to post comments, please login, or create an account first.
We cannot be too careful with a world full of spammers. Apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Keep in Touch on Facebook!    

 If you have any comments or questions about the content of our website or Light Music in general, please join the Robert Farnon Society Facebook page.
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.