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.
As a collector of light music recordings in my younger days, and with a revival of my interest in that genre thanks to the internet and what it has made available to us, I have to mention that I became an admirer of many of Mantovani's recordings myself during that time, which I still treasure today, but not those which you refer to in your article. I was never much attracted to that cascading strings effect which in essence put him on the chart, nor his later recordings which to my mind, as with many other such artists working in this field, was toward complete commercialization, both in intent and in results.
The recordings of Mantovani that I most treasure were his very earliest (which some of my fellow light music enthusiasts were completely surprised to hear about), before he adopted that string effect which nowadays I dismiss is too "campy" for my taste.
It is a well known fact that many recordings originating from either side of the pond did not cross to the other side (and David Ades in I in our conversations bemoaned that state of affairs). There were numerous recordings by Charles Williams, George Melachrino and Peter Yorke - possibly of Sidney Torch as well - that were never released commercially here in the USA, although they were frequently broadcast over our local radio stations, or used as signature themes for various television programs or background music for documentaries. Release in this country was only that which might potentially be profitable in the commercial market - a sad state of affairs, but that's what it was. There were some specialist dealers who had the means of laying their hands on a very limited number of these recordings.
With Mantovani it was a big exception, as everything that he recorded in his early days was freely available here. Much of what he recorded mirrored the work of those figures I have named above so in effect, that provided me with access to material that might not otherwise had, aside from some very fine material that he produced on his own without reference to the work of others. It was an exemplary series of recordings over a period that lasted far too short a time, in my opinion, and I feel that these contributions of his should not be overlooked nor be overshadowed by his subsequent work as has apparently been the case.
To be sure, there are recordings in the latter part of this glorious period of his work on which the cascading string effect begins to make an appearance, but it is an incidental feature on these recordings and not blatantly presented as is the case with "Charmaine," "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" and "Greensleeves" (though I have to own that with this last, it was my first encounter ever with that particular melody, and did leave its impression at the time!).
I could go further into specifics about the various recordings he made during that early period of his, but will simply sum up at this point by stating that no account of his work is in any way complete without a reference to them.