UMC 5387616 (50:08 & 79:45)
In 1959, legendary record producer George Martin paid a struggling singer from Shoreditch, Matt Monro – born Terence Parsons 1930, died 1985 – £25 to demonstrate a Sinatra-ish song called You Keep Me Swinging for a proposed Peter Sellers album ‘Songs for Swinging Sellers’. But Sellers could not match the Monro take-off and Matt himself was to wind-up on the record disguised as Fred Flange.
Yo-Yo Ma (cello)
Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra, Ennio Morricone
Sony 88697562802 (55:57)
The master of “spaghetti western” movie music and much more, Ennio Morricone (born Rome 1928), was lost to us earlier this year, and for me this recently discovered album is a fitting memorial to his work that includes over 400 cinema/tv scores and more than 100 classical works, with total sales over 70 million.
Alpha ALPHA578 (54:43)
Here is a fun album combining works for French horn by top classical tunesmith W A Mozart with traditional Cuban music. It is the brainchild of British French US born, Sarah Willis, who is a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra horn section, and a presenter of TV and online classical music programmes.
World première recordings of British music for string orchestra performed at the Royal Palaces.
Including works by Curzon, Dunhill, Lee, Quilter, Rowley, Speer, O’Donnell, Thorne, Scott, etc.
The Countess Of Wessex's String Orchestra – Conductor Major David B. Hammond
The terms Military Music and Wind Band are usually synonymous. So it came as somewhat of a surprise to learn – from the comprehensive booklet notes accompanying this recent CD release – that there has been a long tradition of string playing in the British Army.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.