25 May

Ol’ Man River

Written by

Ol’ Man River
(Words Oscar Hammerstein II, music Jerome Kern)
Analysed by Robert Walton

Why does the song Ol’ Man River sound so ancient? It’s much more than just Hammerstein’s brilliant lyrics, although they obviously help.

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22 May

CD Review – Musa Italiana – Riccardo Chailly – Filarmonica Della Scala

Written by

musa italiano chaillyCD Review – Musa Italiana
Riccardo Chailly
Filarmonica Della Scala
Decca 485 2944 [64:00]

Regular readers will be aware of my enthusiasm for the top Italian conductor and his first-rate pit band, as four of their discs have already been reviewed here. The latest recording, from 2021 – socially distanced with a new floor created over the seats of the Teatro alla Scala's Golden Auditorium stalls to accommodate the opera house orchestra – features Felix Mendelssohn's (1809-47) deservedly popular 'Italian' Symphony (No.4 in A).

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22 May

CD Review – Musa Italiana – Riccardo Chailly – Filarmonica Della Scala

Written by

CD Review – Musa Italiana
Riccardo Chailly
Filarmonica Della Scala
Decca 485 2944 [64:00]

Regular readers will be aware of my enthusiasm for the top Italian conductor and his first-rate pit band, as four of their discs have already been reviewed here. The latest recording, from 2021 – socially distanced with a new floor created over the seats of the Teatro alla Scala's Golden Auditorium stalls to accommodate the opera house orchestra – features Felix Mendelssohn's (1809-47) deservedly popular 'Italian' Symphony (No.4 in A).

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31 Mar

CD Review – Strauss/Korngold/Schreker Orchestral Works Sinfonia of London | John Wilson

Written by

CD Review – Strauss/Korngold/Schreker Orchestral Works Sinfonia of London | John WilsonCD Review – Strauss/Korngold/Schreker
Orchestral Works
Sinfonia of London | John Wilson
CHANDOS CHSA 5292 [64:22]

If strings are your thing, then this release will appeal to you. Supposedly it is a follow-up to the highly praised 'English Music for Strings', reviewed in 2021.

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30 Mar

Luna Park

Written by

Luna Park
(Eric Siday)
Analysed by Robert Walton

When I first visited Sydney, Australia, the most memorable thing I saw was Luna Park across the harbour behind the famous bridge. In fact it was the first amusement park I’d ever seen. You couldn’t miss its flashing lights and vertically predominant position like Paris’s Eiffel Tower filling the sky and giving the city its character, years before the opera house. Composer Eric Siday had moved to New York in 1939 so it would have been the famous one at Coney Island which inspired his composition.

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25 Mar

CD Review – Ruth Slenczynska – My Life In Music

Written by

CD REVIEW   My Life in MusicCD Review – Ruth Slenczynska
My Life In Music
Decca 4852255 [67:41]

This is a remarkable release made in 2021 by a pianist – who has been playing since she was aged four – in her 97th year. Born in Sacramento, California, to Polish immigrants, she performed on television at age five, and at six made her European concert debut in Berlin.

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20 Mar

CD Review – Found in Dreams … Helen Habershon (clarinet)/John Linehan (piano)

Written by

CD REVIEW found in dreamsCD Review – Found in Dreams …
Helen Habershon (clarinet)/John Linehan (piano)
divine art dda 25225 [57:12]

When I read a record company referring to a performer/composer and using the words "easy listening" and "in the light music tradition", I soon have their latest CD plopping through my letterbox. So it was with clarinettist Helen Habershon, who I must admit I had not heard of before. Evidently, this is her fourth album, with one receiving 'Album of the Month' and two 'Album of the Week' accolades on Classic FM.

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20 Mar

CD Review – America Daniel Hope

Written by

CD REVIEW America DANIEL HOCD Review – America
Daniel Hope
DG 4861940 [84’]

A Daniel Hope album, 'Journey Into Mozart', was reviewed here back in 2018 and since then the South African virtuoso violinist of Irish and German Jewish descent (b.1973) has made several other imaginatively conceived discs. This latest one is very much in the territory of light music.

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02 Mar

Frank DeVol

Written by

Frank DeVol
A tribute by Robert Walton

It’s amazing the number of people in the entertainment business who have a “De” before their surname. There’s Buddy DeFranco, Gloria DeHaven, Reginald DeKoven, Eddie DeLange, Vaughn DeLeath, Milton DeLugg, Gene DePaul, Peter DeRose, Buddy DeSylva and our star arranger for this article, Frank DeVol.

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15 Feb

CD Review – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – (British Light Music Vol. 5)

Written by

CD Review   Samuel Coleridge Taylor  British Light Music vol. 5CD Review – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
RTE Concert Orchestra / Adrian Leaper
(British Light Music Vol. 5)
Naxos 8555191

The latest re-issue in the [now Naxos] British Light Music series is the collection, previously available on the Marco Polo label [8.223516, (p) 1995 ], of works by Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

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10 Feb

CD Review – Eddie Calvert – The Man With The Golden Trumpet – A Centenary Tribute - his 29 finest

Written by

CD Review – Eddie Calvert –The Man With The Golden Trumpet – A Centenary Tribute - his 29 finestCD Review – Eddie Calvert
The Man With The Golden Trumpet
A Centenary Tribute - his 29 finest
Retrospective RTR4392 [78’]

The Retrospective label, with its expert collector and compiler Ray Crick, is a rich repository of our kind of music and I feel sure this release will be of interest to many readers.

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08 Feb

CD Review – New Year’s Concert 2022 - Vienna Philharmonic - Daniel Barenboim

Written by

CD Review – New Year’s Concert 2022 - Vienna Philharmonic - Daniel BarenboimCD Review – New Year’s Concert 2022
Vienna Philharmonic
Daniel Barenboim
Sony 19439963512

Unlike this annual world-renowned concert in 2021 that due to Covid restrictions was performed to an empty Musikverein in Vienna, this year there was a reduced sized mask-wearing audience.

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07 Feb

All Through The Night (TRAD)

Written by

All Through The Night (TRAD)
Analysed by Robert Walton

If you have diligently followed Robert Farnon’s “journey into melody” career, you will know that one of his favourite composers was Hungarian Béla Bartok. Here’s a very interesting quote from him.

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04 Feb

CD Review – Syncopated Musings – Marilyn Nonken – piano

Written by

CD Review – Syncopated Musings – Marilyn Nonken – pianoCD Review – Syncopated Musings
Marilyn Nonken piano
divine art dda 25220 [67:57]

With this album made at New York University in April 2021 we very much get what it clearly says on the tin. Ragtime developed as a popular musical style at the end of the 19th Century. It has its origins in the saloon bars and dance halls of African-American communities.

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27 Jan

CD Review – John Williams And The Boston Pops Orchestra Complete Philips Recordings

Written by

CD Review – John Williams And The Boston Pops Orchestra Complete Philips RecordingsCD Review – John Williams
And The Boston Pops Orchestra
Complete Philips Recordings
Decca 485 1590 [21 CDs]

This box set is released to celebrate the 90th birthday of the conductor. It consists of the 22 albums recorded by him for Philips during the first ten years of his tenure as the orchestra's principal conductor from 1980 to 1993.

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27 Jan

A Wonderful Guy

Written by

A Wonderful Guy
(Richard Rodgers)
Analysed by Robert Walton

Every industry has its “backroom boys” who know its business inside out, but very often don’t get the credit they deserve. In music, some orchestrators and composers have remained relatively unknown, never getting their name in lights. Warren Barker (1923-2006) born in Oakland, California is good example. Like Nelson Riddle, Barker studied composition under Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco.

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21 Jan

CD Review – Ravel: Orchestral Works

Written by

CD Review – Ravel: Orchestral Works Sinfonia of London / John WilsonCD Review – Ravel: Orchestral Works
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5280 [83:45]

Due to the wretched pandemic, we have had to wait some time for a new album from our friend John Wilson and his celebrated orchestra. Now following their Dutilleux disc it is here, devoted to the music of a much better-known French composer, Joseph Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). It has been said of him that he wrote very little music that was second-rate, be it orchestral, piano, ballet, chamber, opera, or song. He also enjoyed the jazz he heard in the 1920s New Orleans and it influenced some of his later works.

Maurice Ravel placed high importance on melody, telling his pupil Ralph Vaughan Williams that there is "an implied melodic outline in all vital music". He was also a renowned orchestrator, sometimes of other composers' output, with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition being the best example.

La Valse (the completion of which was delayed by Ravel's service as an ambulance driver during World War 1) starts quietly but builds up to a sonically brilliant finish over its 11½ minutes. The hauntingly elegiac Pavane Pour une Infante Défunte (for Small Orchestra), written in 1899, established his reputation by achieving world success. The ballet music for Ma Mère L’Oye (Mother Goose), the longest work here (27:58), began life as some pieces for piano duet written for two children. This edition is a première recording. The very Spanish Alborada del Gracioso, and the very Gallic Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, later orchestrated for a ballet, were also originally written for solo piano.

His best-known piece – kept until last – is the exciting Boléro, thanks to the ice-skaters, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, who used it to accompany their gold medal winning perfect-six dance at the 1986 Olympics. We learn from Hugh Macdonald's booklet notes that it was originally entitled 'Fandango'. John has carefully reinstated details of the score which had become carelessly lost so it, too, is a première recording. The story goes that Ravel once remarked about this work that he had produced only one masterpiece and that it contained no music!

Seemingly good for a quotable quote, he once stated, "The only love affair I have ever had was with music". And when Gershwin asked for lessons in composition, Ravel is said to have replied: "It is I who should be asking you how to make so much money by writing music".

Given the pedigree of the conductor and orchestra, those who are familiar with the composer will need no reassurance about adding this latest issue to their collection. Others can sample it on the excellent Chandos website. I notice that Andrew Haveron, the usual SoL leader, only plays on Pavane with Charlie Lovell-Jones filling the role on all the other works.

I believe this to be the longest album I have had the pleasure of reviewing. Let us hope it will be the benchmark for more releases throughout the year.

© Peter Burt 2022

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21 Jan

CD Review – Hail Caledonia Scotland in Music

Written by

hail caledoniaCD Review – Hail Caledonia
Scotland in Music
City of Glasgow Philharmonic Orchestra
Ian Sutherland conductor
ARIADNE 5014 [79:32]

SOMM welcomes the new year with another dip into the Iain Sutherland sporran of spirited sounds – this time from his Scottish homeland with a fresh remastering by the admirable Paul Arden-Taylor of live radio transmissions taken from 'Pops at the Philharmonic' concerts at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in 1995-96.

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16 Jan

New book 'Music by John Barry' now available

Written by

2021 11 12 first a5 advert3

A near five-hundred page, fully-illustrated (often with rarely seen images), chronological exploration of key landmarks underpinning John Barry’s illustrious career. Written in the form of extensively researched essays concentrating on one specific score, over forty are represented, from the first, Beat Girl, to the last, Enigma. Whether highly acclaimed or lower key films, each chapter sets out, clearly and accurately, the circumstances surrounding the inception and completion of the score under scrutiny and in doing so, provides fresh insights into John Barry’s remarkable legacy.

Please note that inclusive of packaging this book weighs around 2 kg and the cost of posting it varies enormously depending upon location. So, when placing your order, please provide us with your full address. You will then receive an email detailing costs inclusive of postage to your country, and how to pay. Thank you!

Order now via this email link

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11 Jan

Reginald Pursglove (1902 -1982)

Written by

Reginald Pursglove (1902 -1982)
By Robert Walton

When violinists come up for discussion, we tend to think of great classical soloists like Benedetti, Bell, Chang, Heifetz, Menuhin, Oistrakh, Perlman and Vengerov. These top players in a class of their own have made their names in the glare of publicity playing the world’s most famous concertos.

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31 Dec

CD Review – Eric Coates – Springtime Suite

Written by

CD Review – Eric Coates
Springtime Suite
Four Ways Suite / Saxo-Rhapsody
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Penny
Naxos 8.555194 [60:57]

This is a reissue of a Marco Polo CD from 1998 featuring the compositions of the man described as the "Uncrowned King of Light Music".

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22 Dec

Scenic Railway

Written by

Scenic Railway
(Roger Roger)
Analysed by Robert Walton

Until I heard the name Roger Roger pronounced properly in French (Ro-jay Ro-jay) (like the soft “j” in Taj Mahal), I had always assumed it was spoken just like the English first name Roger. I was corrected on a 1950s radio series “Paris Star Time” featuring his 35-piece orchestra.

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17 Dec

CD Review – Malcolm Arnold – A Centenary Celebration

Written by

malcolm arnoldCD Review – Malcolm Arnold
A Centenary Celebration
Peter Fisher Violin / Margaret Fingerhut Piano
SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 0640 [69:03]

Malcolm Arnold was Northampton born in October 1921 and died in September 2006. His music was once described by Sunday Times critic Paul Driver as "fecund, fastidious, witty, touching, melodious, sardonic, profound". Driver also opined that Arnold was "a many-faceted composer …

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14 Dec

CD Review – Eric Coates – British Light Music vol. 3

Written by

CD Review Eric Coates British Light Music vol3CD Review – Eric Coates
British Light Music vol. 3
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Adrian Leaper
Naxos 8.555178 [71:26]'

The Merrymakers, London Suite, Cinderella, The Selfish Giant, London Again Suite, Calling All Workers, The Dambusters March.

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06 Dec

CD Review – Mozart Wind Concertos – London Symphony Orchestra / Jamie Martin

Written by

CD REVIEW   Mozart Wind ConcertosCD Review – Mozart Wind Concertos
London Symphony Orchestra / Jamie Martin
lso live lso0855 [141’18”]

Of the three classical composer giants, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, the last-named is possibly the one most appreciated by light music enthusiasts. Melody poured from his pen and none more so than in the three concertos on the first album of this 2-CD issue recorded at a live concert from the Jerwood Hall, LSO St Lukes in October 2019.

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06 Dec

CD Review – André Rieu And His Johann Strauss Orchestra – Happy Together

Written by

andre rieu happy togetherCD Review – André Rieu
And His Johann Strauss Orchestra
Happy Together
UNIVERSAL CD [72:20] & DVD [49’] 744754886801

'Clear the top of the best-selling chart: André, his orchestra and choir, are back with their first studio album since 2019. A new release from the Dutch maestro, who brings so much joy to so many people with his CDs, DVDs, live concerts and YouTube presence, will be especially welcome to readers starved nowadays of discs of their kind of music...

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06 Dec

Bird Charmer

Written by

Bird Charmer
(Robert Farnon)
Analysed by Robert Walton

It’s strange how some people seem to have a natural affinity with wild life and anything that moves, especially birds. As a toddler, Robert Farnon’s son David was very much into birds...

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14 Nov

Music by John Barry - book close to publication

Written by

2021 11 12 first a5 advert3

Indicate your interest via this email link

The biggest story of the year so far is the news that 'Music by John Barry', a new book in praise of more than forty of his film scores, is close to publication! Sources close to the project tell us that this near 500-page book is the best work so far from the three scribes. OK, technically it's also the first, but you get the idea!  You can see more details on this cunningly constructed flyer by the artist, Ruuders. Now, in view of how poorly the previous book, 'Hit and Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven' sold, it seems highly likely that copies of this new book will be in limited supply. So, do yourself a favour and indicate your interest immediately by contacting the writers via this email link. Details of price and publication date will be sent to you as soon as possible, and anybody who then orders it is *guaranteed* a copy.  In fact, if requested, at least one, maybe two of the authors will sign your copy. They might even do so even if you don't request it. :)

music by john barry book 25

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13 Nov

CD Review – Lockdown Blues Peter Dickinson, piano

Written by

Lockdown BluesCD Review – Lockdown Blues
Peter Dickinson, piano
SOMMCD 0644 [68:37]

Another attractive release from this ever-enterprising label. Probably the main interest for our readers will be a tad under a the third of the disc devoted to the first recording of Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington's 'Twelve Melodies'. These popular songs – including It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing)Sophisticated Lady, Solitude, Mood Indigo and In a Sentimental Mood – have been arranged by the pianist using the original sheet music. So, they are quite different from the classic jazz versions.

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09 Nov

CD Review – Andrew Lloyd Webber – Symphonic Suites

Written by

CD REVIEW Andrew Lloyd Webber   Symphonic Suites

CD Review – Andrew Lloyd Webber – Symphonic Suites
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Orchestra/Simon Lee
Decca 3819953

Here at last is this new release of what for many of us is our kind of music performed by a full orchestra. It has been a while coming as it was announced at the end of August and the release date then put back two months. Nevertheless, well worth waiting for.

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06 Nov

Ballet Egyptien (Alexandre Clément Léon Joseph Luigini)

Written by

 Do you remember comedian Jimmy Durante at the piano, showing off his apparent familiarity with foreign names in music?

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01 Nov

Chamber Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Written by

Chamber Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Eusibius Quartet ● Alastair Beatson Piano

SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 0642 [68:30]

Pre-pandemic I would have been put off reviewing this album by its title but since March 2019, with lockdown and social distancing, most of the new releases have needed to be by small groups or soloists; and with more time to listen my appreciation of these genres has been increased.

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28 Oct

Gemini

Written by

(Hal Mooney)
Analysed by Robert Walton

I first encountered Hal Mooney’s Orchestra on an MGM 78 of Helen Forrest singing I Wish I didn’t Love You So. Strings and voice dominated this 1947 Frank Loesser song, spoilt slightly by the shrillness which was sometimes a problem with early MGM discs.

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02 Oct

CD Review - Jean-Yves Thibaudet - Carte Blanche

Written by

CD REVIEW   Carte BlancheCD Review - Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Carte Blanche
Decca 485 2081 [79:09']

When those nice people from Decca, with an eye to business, invited the virtuosic French-American pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet to record his own personal selection for an album celebrating his 60th birthday, they might have shown even more potential sales optimism

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02 Oct

Ronald Binge - Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra

Written by

Ernest Tomlinson
Naxos 8.555190 [72’21”]

Our hopes fulfilled: we have not had to wait long for Vol.2 of ‘British Light Music’ and – after Addison – it looks as if the series is going to be in alphabetical order.

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23 Sep

Rose-Marie

Written by

Rose-Marie
(Friml,Harbach,Hammerstein II)
Billy May’s Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

Right in the centre of a collage created by my wife of my personal and professional life, is a photograph of me holding a 10 inch 1950’s 78rpm disc of Billy May’s Rose-Marie. This was around the time the long playing disc first saw the light of day. It represented one of the first highly technical big band recordings on a 78, standing out as something really special.

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14 Sep

CD Review – Janine Jansen 12 Stradivari

Written by

CD REVIEW  12 StradivariCD Review – Janine Jansen
12 Stradivari
Antonio Pappano
Decca 4851605 [59:24]

This is one extraordinarily exciting release. Although there is only a single piece of pure light music – Jerome Kern's Yesterdays, arranged by Fritz Kreisler – it should be of fascinating interest to all lovers of the violin...

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01 Sep

Barbara Moore (1932-2021)

Written by

Barbara Moore The talented pianist, singer, arranger and composer Barbara Moore has died after a long illness, aged 89. Born in Yorkshire, Barbara was the daughter of saxophonist and arranger Arthur Birkby. She was an early member of The Ladybirds backing group.

As well as composing music for commercials and the De Wolfe Music Library, she wrote the new, up-dated arrangement for Brian Fahey's celebrated signature tune At The Sign Of The Swinging Cymbal, still used on BBC Radio 2's Pick Of The Pops. She later worked with Jimi Hendrix, Dusty Springfield, Elton John, Tom Jones and Dudley Moore, with whom she became a close friend.

At one time Barbara was married to arranger Pete Moore (1924-2013), former Head of Orchestrations at Radio 2; their daughter Lindsay sadly died in her 40s.

In her later years Barbara moved to the coastal town of Bognor Regis, where she became a well-known personality, performing locally and lecturing at the University of Chichester.

https://www.barbaramoore.co.uk/

Anthony Wills
© August 2021

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01 Sep

CD Review – From Russia Music for Clarinet and Orchestra

Written by

CD REVIEW   From Russiadivine art dda 25233 [52:56]

This year's releases get better and better. The Divine Art label – located in "God's own county" of Yorkshire – has recorded for our delight this attractive disc of melodic Russian/Slav music.

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22 Aug

Sweet And Lovely - (Gus Arnheim, Harry Tobias and Jules Lemare)

Written by

Robert Farnon’s arrangement analysed by Robert Walton

Robert Farnon had the unique ability to bring out the best in a song by always treating it with the utmost respect in terms of its original style, by adding just the right amount of modernism and freshness. In other words he was guided intuitively by his byword: “taste”.

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17 Aug

CD Review – Mosaic - A4 Brass Quartet

Written by

CD REVIEW   Mosaic  A4 Brass QuartetSomm Recordings SOMM D0638 [70:59]

'Here is another slightly left-field release of the kind that makes this label so fascinating. It will definitely be of interest to lovers of brass bands and, indeed, anyone who favours instruments being blown rather than bowed. So, we have the principals from four of the UK's top bands, including Black Dyke, Foden's, and Brighouse & Rastrick … don’t know why the fourth gets no mention.

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01 Aug

CD Review – Richard Addinsell British Light Music - 1

Written by

CD REVIEW - Richard Addinsell - British Light Music

CD Review – Richard Addinsell
British Light Music - 1
Philip Martin, Roderick Elms, Piano
BBC Concert Orchestra / Kenneth Alwyn
Naxos 8.555229 [68:16]

It is good to have this album back in the catalogue. It was originally released on the Marco Polo label in 1994 and appears to be the first in a new series from Naxos of 'British Light Music', which is something to be celebrated.

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01 Aug

CD Review - Nicola Benedetti - Baroque

Written by

CD Review - Nicola Benedetti - BaroqueCD Review - Nicola Benedetti
Baroque
Decca 4851891 [52’26]

It was not my intention to review this album here but then I read what Nicola Benedetti had written in her introductory notes, that "Many find it (the Italian baroque) light fare: too populist, repetitive and predictable." So maybe, putting these descriptions aside, it will appeal to our reader.

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01 Aug

CD Review - Sumertime Isata Kanneh-Mason piano

Written by

CD Review - Sumertime
Isata Kanneh-Mason piano
Decca 4851663 [62’52]

CD Review - Sumertime - Isata Kanneh-Mason pianoMy last review was of a new release from one of the world’s best-loved queens of the keyboard and now we have this album of 20th century American music from a princess of the piano. Aged 25, Isata is the eldest daughter in the remarkable Kanneh-Mason musical family.

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27 Jul

The Folks Who Live On The Hill

Written by

(Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II)
Peggy Lee
Analysed by Robert Walton

Whenever I’m asked to name one of my favourite songs in that largely neglected period, the Golden Era of Popular Music between 1920 - 1960, without hesitation my reply is always The Folks Who Live on the Hill sung by Peggy Lee.

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08 Jul

CD Review – Love Songs Angela Hewitt, piano

Written by

CD Review – Love Songs Angela Hewitt pianoCD Review – Love Songs
Angela Hewitt piano

Hyperion CDA68341 [75’57]

We are constantly being encouraged to meditate during – and beyond – these still uncertain times. Researched, put together and recorded during lockdown, this album with its musical declarations of love across the centuries would be an ideal accompaniment to any such activity.

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08 Jul

CD Review – Manhattan to Montmartre

Written by

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)

Written by

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)

Written by

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.

Read the review here...

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19 Jun

CD Review – Tine Thing Helseth & Kåre Nordstoga

Written by


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

Written by

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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09 May

CD Review – Dutilleux

Written by

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

Written by

(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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23 Apr

Albrecht Mayer: Mozart - Works For Oboe And Orchestra

Written by

The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Vital Julian Frey
DGG 483 8232 (82’00”)

From the master of melody comes this release featuring the long-serving principal/joint principal oboist of the Berlin Philharmonic.

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17 Apr

Gershwinicity

Written by

Art Deco Trio
SOMMECD 0631 (71’00’)

This is an entertaining release of 19 songs by the foremost ‘cross-over’ composer, the great George Gershwin, arranged for clarinet, saxophone and piano, which (to quote the well-informed booklet notes) “combine jazz influences with the structures and textures of classical music”, and well worth investigating by light music lovers.

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07 Apr

Festmusik : A Legacy

Written by

Onyx Brass ǀ John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5284 (67’25”)

If you are a brass enthusiast, you will enjoy this latest release from a brilliant ensemble; if you are interested in chamber music – admittedly less likely – it will appeal to you; and if you are both of the above and also among the many admirers of John Wilson, who conducts on the three longest tracks (32’48”), then acquiring this is a no-brainer.

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03 Apr

Sophisticated Lady

Written by

(Ellington & Parish)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
Analysed By Robert Walton

When I first noticed the names of Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington, Sidney Torch, Charles Williams and the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra all together on a record, I thought I must have been seeing things!

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11 Mar

Champs Elysees Café

Written by

(Joseph Kuhn)
Analysed by Robert Walton

It must be highly unusual for a three minute composition on a 78 rpm disc to actually supply music for each scene like a film soundtrack. I can’t recall such a thing.

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28 Feb

French Music For The Stage

Written by

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHAN 20151 (78:40)

The estimable Estonian ensemble under its fellow countryman and former MD, the highly regarded veteran maestro Neeme Järvi (described by his record company as “legendary”), bring us another enjoyable classical-lite Chandos collection...

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27 Feb

CD Review – The Best Of 'Make Way For Music'

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CD REVIEW   The Best of Make Way for MusicFeaturing the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra
2-CD set - Total Playing Time approx. 117 minutes
The NDO Project – CD 213 / 214

Readers may recall that, a while ago, I wrote a review of a 2-CD set issued by The NDO Project, which included a short history of the latter, and featured the BBC Midland Light and Midland Radio Orchestras.

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17 Feb

New Year’s Concert 2021

Written by

Vienna Philharmonic ǀ Riccardo Muti
Sony (2 CD) 19439840162 (1:44:0) ; DVD 19439840179
(also on Blue-ray & 3 Vinyl)

This annual event in its 82nd year was a much different occasion than normal with the concert being performed to an empty Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein due to Covid-19.

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15 Feb

CD Review – Dicky Bird Hop

Written by

Dicky Bird Hop CD ReviewSolo Piano Arrangements Of Light Music Classics, Performed By Paul Guinery.
Twenty-two tracks by – inter-alia – Geoffrey Toye , Jack Strachey Richard Addinsell, Haydn Wood, Vivian Ellis, Billy Mayerl, Madeleine Dring, Eric Coates, etc. Total playing time 78 min. 31 sec.
EM RECORDS – EMR CD 064

The name Paul Guinery might possibly 'ring a bell' to those who may recognise him as a staff announcer on BBC Radio Three and also the World Service; he still appears on-air from time-to-time as a freelance radio newsreader.

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14 Feb

Bees-A-Buzzin’

Written by

(Edrich Siebert)
Analysed by Robert Walton

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14 Jan

English Music For Strings ǀ Sinfonia Of London ǀ John Wilson

Written by

 Chandos CHSA5264 (TT 64:46)

The strings of the superb Sinfonia of London, with Andrew Haveron as leader, are given a chance to shine on this, the award-winning ensemble’s fourth John Wilson conducted orchestral release on this label.

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14 Jan

BBC unveils series of programmes to celebrate musicals

Written by

Perhaps not exactly light music as many understand it, but the following could be of interest.

The BBC has unveiled a series of programmes to celebrate musicals.

Elaine Paige (Ian West/PA)While theatres remain closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions the programmes will broadcast hit songs and performances from the world of musical theatre.

BBC Radio 2 will host three days of programming about musicals, while further shows will be broadcast on BBC One, BBC Four and iPlayer.

Radio 2 presenter and West End star Elaine Paige said: “Musicals are such a huge part of my life – as they are for so many of my friends and colleagues – so to be unable to perform or go to the theatre for most of last year was devastating to us all. Radio 2 Celebrates Musicals is a way for us all to come together, to be uplifted and sing out loud to the world’s best show tunes.”

Radio 2 Celebrates Musicals will run from January 29-31. The series of programmes will end on January 31 with a special show hosted by Sheridan Smith from the London Palladium. Smith said: “With so many amazing performers we’re going to hopefully bring some joy to all those at home, with the best songs to help lift the spirits in these very difficult times.” The programme will also be shown on BBC One in February.

Helen Thomas, head of Radio 2, said: “2020 left a gaping hole in the lives of musical theatre lovers with the shows being closed due to the pandemic.” She added: “I truly hope our programming will help to lift the spirits and capture the joy and elation that only these wonderful songs and performers can bring.”

image: Elaine Paige (Ian West/PA)

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11 Jan

Classic Diamonds - Neil Diamond - London Symphony Orchestra

Written by

Capitol 602435318059 (59:43)

Here is another with a big difference: the vocals are also newly recorded in the USA by the 80-year-old singer, whose distinctive voice that can bring a tear to the eye is still strong. The orchestra is Sir Simon Rattle’s premier band, the 70-piece LSO, conducted by William Ross and recorded in January 2020 at the famous Abbey Road Studios in St John’s Wood.

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06 Jan

Ernest Tomlinson

Written by

By Robert Walton

Rawtenstall is the largest town at the centre of the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire, England. With a population of 22,000, it’s situated 15 miles north of Manchester in the ancient Forest of Rossendale.

Whenever I saw genial Rawtenstall-born Ernest at the Robert Farnon Society meetings, he always gave the impression of being a country person...

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15 Dec

Gautier Capuçon - Emotions

Written by

Warner Classics 9029521413 (77’)

This is an album that had escaped my notice until now. Unless you are into downloads or still have a local record shop, it may be too late for Christmas listening but will provide ear balm for continuing troubled times in the New Year, albeit hopefully less troubled than when the disc was released in early November.

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27 Nov

CD Review – The Peter Hope Collection

Written by

Mozart Records MR 31206

Following my review of the recent Peter Hope double CD set 'Through The Crystal', Steve Daniels, of Mozart Edition UK, kindly sent me a copy of this earlier CD, which was issued in 2007.

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27 Nov

John Rutter - The Piano Collection

Written by

Wayne Marshall piano
Decca 28948 55333 (50:21)

John Rutter (born 1945) is a very prolific composer of mainly sacred choral works, many associated with Christmas. He has made umpteen recordings (Discogs lists 97) either as composer, conductor, arranger or producer.

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24 Nov

Four Studies of Important Arrangements of the Classic Song Laura

Written by

Four studies of important arrangements of the classic song Laura in the order they were scored.

Read the article by Robert Walton here...

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22 Nov

Sommernachts Konzert 2020 - Wiener Philharmoniker

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Sommernachts Konzert 2020
Summer Night Concert
Valery Gergiev / Jonas Kaufmann
Wiener Philharmoniker

Sony 194397196221 (77:06)

Reckoned to be the world’s biggest annual open-air concert, the elite Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra aims for a summer occasion to match that of New Year’s Day with this annual event

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17 Nov

Carnival Of The Animals - The Kanneh-Masons

Written by

Michael Morpurgo ● Olivia Colman

Decca 4851156 (64:02)

This is the first album by the whole incredibly gifted family septet of young musicians from Nottingham, two of whom – cellist Sheku and pianist Isata – already have albums on the Decca label. They have chosen Saint-Saëns’ zoological classic, a favourite for many children of all ages, including oldies like me.

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12 Nov

Aled Jones - Blessings

Written by

Aled Jones
Blessings
BMG 538643602 (54:36)

The personable presenter of Classic FM programmes and the BBC TV’s ‘Songs of Praise’ shows off his fine tenor voice again in this his 40th album.

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09 Nov

Ave Rex Angelorum

Written by

The Choir of Keble College, Oxford ● Matthew Martin
CRD 3537 (63:03)

To complement our normal Festive listening from Leroy Anderson, Percy Faith, Arthur Fiedler, Mantovani, André Rieu et al, your thoughts may turn to a vocal collection of Christmas music and you might like to consider this new release from the Keble College Choir. One of the leading mixed-voice choirs in Oxford, on this album it comprises eleven sopranos, seven altos, seven tenors and eight basses, who are either choral scholars, volunteers or lay clerks.

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02 Nov

CD Review – 'Through The Crystal' - A 90th Birthday Celebration

Written by

Mozart Records Mr120120 – 58 Tracks
Total Playing Time Approx. 148 Minutes

This two-CD set has been released to coincide with the ninetieth birthday of composer Peter Hope on December 2nd 2020. It owes its title to the first track of CD 1, and comprises recordings of his compositions for Mozart Edition made between 1965 and 1980.

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13 Oct

The Stringbeat Years: Songs accompanied by John Barry – new CD Box Set announced

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The Stringbeat Years Songs accompanied by John Barry

Coming soon from Windmill Records, The Stringbeat Years: Songs accompanied by John Barry, a 4-CD box-set comprising of 144 tracks, a 24-page booklet (replete with period photographs and comprehensive notes) and including ten bonus tracks (among them the CD debut of the first ever cover version of a John Barry instrumental composition).

Adam Faith fans will experience every song he recorded with John Barry, thereby featuring – for the first time – the film versions of ‘Mix me a Person’, ‘The Time has Come’, and ‘What a Whopper’ (slightly shortened). There’s also an unique opportunity to hear the original version of ‘Ah, Poor Little Baby’, making its premiere appearance on CD.

The box-set is limited to 500 copies and is only £16.99 post-free in the UK (postage costs for elsewhere in the world to be determined when stock arrives), so don’t miss out! It will only be available direct from Windmill!

Please indicate your interest without commitment by emailing us and you’ll be contacted as soon as it becomes available.

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10 Oct

Delibes : Ballet Suites

Written by

Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHSA 5257 (82:55)

French composer Léo Delibes (1836-91) is entitled to be reviewed here as he was blessed with a natural gift for likeable, easily assimilated melodies: his music being described as having “charm, elegance, wit and grace”.

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05 Oct

Respighi ● Riccardo Chailly ● Filarmonica Della Scala

Written by

Decca 00028948504152 (73:21)

Having reviewed three previous albums by this orchestra and conductor – ‘Overtures, Preludes & Intermezzi’, ‘The Fellini Album’ and ‘Cherubini Miniatures’ – I have become something of a fan and welcome this new release; even although it does come into competition with John Wilson’s recent highly acclaimed versions of the two main works: Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome (also previously reviewed here).

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01 Oct

THE NDO PROJECT – a short history and a review of its latest CD release , 'Autumn Leaves'

Written by

autumn leavesMore than fifty years ago, many recordings were made [unofficially and privately, and often off-air] – by studio technicians, orchestral players and production staff – of a BBC 'house' orchestra in Manchester.

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30 Sep

The Magic Of Mantovani

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The Original Recordings with Joseph Calleja
Decca 4850894 (48.53)

When as a long time Mantovani admirer I first joined the Robert Farnon Society, his name was hardly ever mentioned. It seemed to me that he was thought of by my fellow light music enthusiasts as being too “popular”, much as some people now think of André Rieu.

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19 Sep

Alexandre Desplat - Airlines

Written by

Emmanuel Pahud Flute
Orchestre National De France / Desplat 
Warner Classics 0190295306878(56:22)

Regular readers will know from my review of ‘Little Women’* in February this year that I regard Alexandre Desplat as second only to the great John Williams as a composer in the world of film music. Following that earlier album, we now have this further welcome selection of his work.

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19 Sep

Great Classic Film Music Volume II

Written by

Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra
Iain Sutherland
SOMM ARIADNE 5009 (74:03)

This is a pleasing surprise follow-up to Great Classic Film Music (ARIADNE 5006), the virtues of which I extolled in 2019. The track selection here is noteworthy for being less hackneyed than in many of the comparable albums in the catalogue.

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12 Sep

Like Young & Like Blue

Written by

Andrế Previn / David Rose
Like Young & Like Blue
Sepia 1348 (78:29)

In June 1958, when distinctive pianist André Previn (“Piano Magic”) met David Rose with the 25 “Lush Strings” and rhythm section of his orchestra, they got together and produced a Billboard top 20 LP: ‘Like Young: Secret Songs for Young Lovers’. Nearly two years later there was a follow-up album, ‘Like Blue’. Both have now been released on this exceptionally well-filled stereo CD remastered by Robin Cherry.

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07 Sep

Eric Coates : Orchestral Works, Vol. 2

Written by

BBC Philharmonic / John Wilson
Chandos CHAN 20148 (57:00)

This is the release we have been waiting for: some of the very best of the kind of music we love the most. It is the second instalment in a series from our friend John Wilson, of whom it has been said that what he does not know about Eric Coates’ music is probably not worth knowing.

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06 Sep

Vieuxtemps

Written by

Works for Violin and Orchestra
Reto Kuppel, violin
Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra ● Marcus Bosch
Naxos 8.573993 (66:00)

This is quite a discovery: an album of melodic well-fashioned light classical music from a composer I have heard of but know nothing about, played by an orchestra and conductor whose names I have not even come across before.

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04 Sep

Strings And Things

Written by

By Robert Walton

Why do strings, especially those in a symphony orchestra, have such an effect on audiences, like transmitting a sublime message? Especially a composition with a lovely melody and beautiful harmonies.

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27 Aug

80 Years of Music While You Work

Written by

CALLING ALL WORKERS!

From Serenade Radio
www.serenade-radio.com

Date: Bank Holiday Monday 31st August
Time: 12 Noon

_________________________________________

80 years ago, 'Music While You Work' began on the BBC.

​Announced in the Radio Times as a “half hour’s music meant specially for factory workers to listen to as they work”, it soon proved a favourite with all listeners, as its familiar signature tune by Eric Coates rang out.

​Hear its story presented by Brian Savin with Brian Reynolds on August Bank Holiday Monday at 12 noon on Serenade Radio.

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24 Aug

Deep In A Dream

Written by

(Van Heusen; Delange)
Reg Owen Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

One of the most underrated composers, arrangers and conductors of the 20th century European scene was Reg Owen (born George Owen Smith, (1921-1978). I first came across him as one of the original orchestrators for Ted Heath’s Music after WW2, with classics like Colonel Bogey, Blue Skies March, Sidewalks of Cuba, Cuban Crescendo (composer) and Village Fair.

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20 Aug

John Williams In Vienna

Written by

Wiener Philharmoniker ● Anne-Sophie Mutter
DG 4836373 (75’00)

On Saturday 8th July 1972 I joined a packed audience in Nottingham’s Albert Hall for the opening concert of that year’s Festival given by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn. The third item on the programme was Symphony No.1 by a ‘John T Williams (born 1932)’. The review in the local newspaper said that “when two gentlemen made a conspicuous exit from the hall after the first movement, one began to fear the worst.”

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04 Aug

Matt Monro - Stranger In Paradise The Lost New York Sessions

Written by

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.

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01 Aug

Yo-Yo Ma Plays Morricone

Written by

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.

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26 Jul

Sarah Willis : Mozart Y Mambo

Written by

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.

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20 Jul

Palace Premieres

Written by

Palace+Premieres+CoverWorld 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.