28 Aug

Korngold: Symphony In F Sharp, Etc.

Written by

Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5220 (59:17)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, was a child prodigy who had composed a widely performed pantomime at the age of 11 and a piano trio at 12. He seemed set for the career of a respected classical composer in Vienna, where most of his early life was centred.

Read the review here...

Submit to Facebook
26 Aug

Beautiful Spring

Written by

(Lincke)
Stanley Black’s version analysed by Robert Walton

It was back in the mid-1950s as a member of the New Zealand Territorial Armed Forces, I was sent to the Whangaparaoa Peninsular in the north of the North Island for a weekend’s exercise. The Army, not exactly noted for any cultural or refined qualities, surprised everyone with the playing of German composer Paul Lincke’s tune Beautiful Spring over the public address system.

Read the article here...

Submit to Facebook

(Lincke)
Stanley Black’s version analysed by Robert Walton

It was back in the mid-1950s as a member of the New Zealand Territorial Armed Forces, I was sent to the Whangaparaoa Peninsular in the north of the North Island for a weekend’s exercise. The Army, not exactly noted for any cultural or refined qualities, surprised everyone with the playing of German composer Paul Lincke’s tune Beautiful Spring over the public address system. It perfectly reflected the glorious Saturday morning we awoke to. Mind you, some of the boys weren’t quite as enthusiastic as me. It was the performance and especially the arrangement by the Stanley Black Orchestra, which caught my ear. So military matters were the last thing on my mind.

The opening of this recording reminded me of some of the radio signature tunes heard on the BBC Light Programme in the 1940s and 50s. In fact Stanley Black conducted many of these post WW2 themes even if he didn’t actually arrange all of them himself. Thrilling trumpets act as a sort of attention-grabbing “fanfare”, followed by the melody played by trombones and woodwind. The arrangement really comes alive when the strings suddenly sweep in, buzzing below individual trumpets that come together in a harmonic block like the opening.

Now we are in pure Farnonland as a flute and pizzicato strings continue the tune, answered by muted brass. In my view this sound is the rhythmic kernel of the finest in light orchestral music. David Rose started the ball rolling in America in 1944 with Holiday for Strings, but Robert Farnon took the formula to new heights never surpassed.

Hard to keep the strings away but in this very specialized environment they are fundamental to the style. There is nothing in serious music that sounds anything like this. With brass interjections and the harp demonstrating its ability with two showy swells, unison strings continue to play the tune. Calmer sustained woodwind led to brass surrounded by pizzicato and busy arco strings.

Then a section of rich close harmony strings with the melody. Suddenly we go into four emphatic brass beats that sound like a march coming on, interspersed with a glorious short string passage. But back to the march with a touch of timpani and brought to a final halt by the brass. If by now you’re somewhat out of breath and staggered with how this average tune was transformed.... put the blame on Angela! Morley of course. Well, who else?

On Blue Decca 78 rpm (F.10351)

Submit to Facebook
25 Aug

A Life In Music - Vintage Tommy Reilly

Written by

CHANDOS DIGITAL CHAN 20143 (77min. 20 sec.)

This excellent new release on the CHANDOS label has been created to commemorate the centenary of the Canadian- born virtuoso harmonica player Tommy Reilly [1919-2000].

Read the review here...

Submit to Facebook
03 Aug

Henry Mancini Moon River

Written by

The Singles Collection 1958-1962
Jasmine 2666 (79:27)

To attain greatness in our kind of music it seems helpful to have a name beginning with the letter ‘M’, like Mantovani, Miller, Melachrino or Mancini. In December 2013, in the final printed edition of the Robert Farnon Society’s magazine, I favourably reviewed a Mancini album on Dutton Vocalion. Incidentally one of about a dozen such reviews – imagine that happening today! So here now is a rare thing, a new release of light orchestral music that would have been commonplace back in the day.

Read the review here...

Submit to Facebook
27 Jun

Great Classic Film Music

Written by

Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra Iain Sutherland, conductor
Somm Ariadne 5006 (77:12)

I have been looking forward to this release since it was announced on the LLMMG website in February, albeit with a rather grander title. Great expectations are not always realised, but they are here.

Read the review here...

Submit to Facebook
23 Jun

The Fellini Album

Written by

The Film Music of Nino Rota
Filarmonica Della Scala Riccardo Chailly
Decca 483 2869 (80:50)

As a young man my first encounter with the music of Nino Rota (1911-79) was a track on a Mantovani album with pianists Rawicz and Landauer: The Legend of the Glass Mountain from the film ‘The Glass Mountain.’ This remains one of his best works.

Read the review here...

Submit to Facebook
22 Jun

Butantan

Written by

(Wood)
Analysis of the Melachrino version by
Robert Walton

Occasionally for commercial purposes, a record is released which has absolutely nothing to do with the image or style of the official artist. In the case of Vaughn Monroe, that smooth big band ballad operator, was quite happy to take a back seat while The Maharajah of Magador was sung by Ziggy Talent. It proved to be a million seller, even though the main name on the label was Monroe’s.

Read the article here...

Submit to Facebook

(Guy Wood)
Analysis of the Melachrino version by
Robert Walton

Occasionally for commercial purposes, a record is released which has absolutely nothing to do with the image or style of the official artist. In the case of Vaughn Monroe, that smooth big band ballad operator, was quite happy to take a back seat while The Maharajah of Magador was sung by Ziggy Talent. It proved to be a million seller, even though the main name on the label was Monroe’s.

Another example of “fooling the listener” in the light orchestral medium was Butantan played by the Melachrino Orchestra conducted by George Melachrino. While in a same genre there really wasn’t a hint of the famous Melachrino string sound about it. OK then, perhaps slightly! This very un-Melachrino-ish piece of Latin American music in rhumba tempo was released on a 78rpm disc in 1954. Maybe that’s why years later it was often spotted in piles of unwanted second- hand records. Anyway it appealed to me and I felt it was worthy of taking apart for examination. Sometimes the completely unexpected can be irresistible. The first three notes fit perfectly into this Caribbean type title.

Brass and strings provide the momentum in the opening of this composition. Did you notice at the very start, the recording engineer realizes he has a problem? The volume is too low but he quickly pulls it up to match the general level of the piece. Hard to believe this was actually released! And there was also a tempo problem when the orchestra gets too fast for the rhythm section, but eventually it corrects itself. When Butantan is repeated, plunging strings stress in no uncertain terms on the last “tan”. It’s about now one becomes aware of the orchestral Latin duvet surrounding a bed of strings.

The harpsichord begins the next phrase with lots of that forced string sound. Gradually we get back to the start with it getting softer and softer and ending in a very relaxed West Indian way.

By the mid-50s light classical items were becoming a thing of the past. There must have been pressure on Melachrino at EMI to modernize and have more Latin or novelty type things like more popular groups were churning out. Hence the emergence of pieces like Butantan.

“Butantan”
Melachrino Orchestra
“A Glorious Century of Light Music” Guild Records GLCD 5200

Submit to Facebook
22 May

Jess Gilliam: Rise

Written by Super User

Decca 4834862 (51:46)

This album is aptly named for the young saxophonist who, after being in the final of the BBC Young Musician 2016, has appeared to great acclaim at The Last Night of the Proms in 2018, is now presenting a weekly programme on Radio 3; she has reached the top echelons of the best-selling chart on Classic FM with this recording...

Read the article here...

Submit to Facebook
Page 1 of 65

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.