06 Dec

Christmas at the Movies

Written by

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra ● Philip Ziegler
Sony 19075871612 (54:43)

14 tracks incl. Somewhere in My Memory (from ‘Home Alone’), Hedwig’s Theme (from ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’), First Aid (from ‘Gremlins’), Walking in the Air (from ‘The Snowman’), Papa Elf (from ‘Elf’), Bless Us All (from ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’), Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (from ‘Meet Me in St Louis’), and White Christmas (from ‘Holiday Inn’)

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04 Dec

André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra

Written by

ROMANTIC MOMENTS ll
Decca Classics (CD+DVD) 2640791

Around the World, Sunrise Sunset, Strangers in the Night, Sail Along Silvery Moon, Evening Prayer (from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’), Gem hab’ ich die Frau’n gekűsst (from ‘Paganini’), Dorfschwalben aus Österreich, Du schwarzer Zigeuner, Morning Hymn (from ‘Sound of Music’), Red Roses for a Blue Lady, El cóndor pasa, Träumerei, The Way Old Friends Do, Vilja Song, An der schönen blauen Donau [On the Beautiful Blue Danube], Amazing Grace...

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30 Nov

The Best of the John Wilson Orchestra

Written by

conducted by John Wilson
Warner Classics 9029555123 (123:00)

Although he is now a big name in classical circles, I am guessing that for John Wilson our kind of music is still his first love. This is the charismatic conductor in lighter mode. His 70-piece orchestra, with its big band element, specialising in numbers from the golden years of Hollywood and Broadway musicals, has been wowing BBC Proms audiences every year since 2009 and must be one of – if not the best – orchestras of its kind in the world.

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26 Nov

Copland: Orchestral Works 4 - Symphonies

Written by

Written by Peter Burt
BBC Philharmonic ● John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5222 (66:09)Aaron Copland (1900-90) devotees will no doubt have been waiting for this release – the last in a series – recorded in March this year at MediaCityUK, Salford. I favourably reviewed the first here in January 2016, devoted as it was to the composer’s popular ballet music.

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26 Nov

Louisiana Hayride

Written by

(Arthur Schwartz)
Robert Farnon’s arrangement
Analysed by Robert Walton

These days we’re constantly bombarded with attractive specials from supermarkets and shops like “buy one and get one free”.

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(Arthur Schwartz)
Robert Farnon’s arrangement
Analysed by Robert Walton

These days we’re constantly bombarded with attractive specials from supermarkets and shops like “buy one and get one free”. In a Robert Farnon arrangement you get “three for the price of one”. The song comes first (often from the “Great American Songbook”) followed by the actual arrangement and then to top it all it’s full of elements of his own compositions both serious and light. There is no musician on earth who has the ability to mix and match with a sound that is completely unique. He re-invented the word taste. Wherever you happen to land on any of his recordings, even briefly, it’s unmistakably Robert Farnon and often all under 3 minutes. To hear Farnon is to hear an open-minded composer who has absorbed such an enormous amount of music, put it all together and created his own universe. In fact every time I listen to a Robert Farnon arrangement I can’t help feeling Hollywood lost out to his talents (similar to those of MGM’s Conrad Salinger). It’s understandable though because Farnon fell on his feet in so many ways when he came to England and stayed. Of course he was a remainer!

It’s unusual for a songwriter to praise a specific arrangement, but Arthur Schwartz did just that when he personally corresponded with Farnon, singling out Louisiana Hayride from the album “Something To Remember You By” as one of the finest orchestrations and performances he’d ever heard.

Starting straight but soon let loose into swing mode, the first thing I noticed about this brassy piece of big band/light orchestral music is that Farnon keeps the whole thing under control. It could have so easily descended into chaos under another conductor. Also there’s always a temptation with this kind of material to show off. The fact that he kept his cool and made it simple was the very reason that made it attractive.

After a chorus, things begin to warm up with a little Bach-ish like polyphony between the brass and saxes and snatches of the sort of tricky woodwind one might hear in a light orchestral Farnon score. And keeping things moving, a touch of the Ted Heath sound from the saxes. The strings enter for the last time before the drummer (remember Farnon in his youth was one?) keeps the orchestra under strict order with his sticks. There are some echoes of Pete Rugolo in this final section.

Robert Farnon has always been associated with strings but let’s not forget his brilliance with brass and wizardry with woodwind. In fact the whole orchestra is his world.

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25 Nov

George Gershwin - An American in Paris, Piano Concerto, etc.

Written by

GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, PIANO CONCERTO, etc.
Leopold Godowsky lll, piano / Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Josė Serebrier, conductor
SOMM - Ariadne 5003 (67:22)

This is an interesting historical re-issue – first appearing on Dinemec Classics 20 years ago – in celebration of the composer’s Centennial...

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22 Nov

Haydn Wood – Orchestral Works

Written by

Festival March – Snapshots of London: Suite – Cities of Romance – Egypta-An Egyptian Suite – Three Famous Cinema Stars – Royal Castles Suite – Manx Countryside Sketches
BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA / GAVIN SUTHERLAND
Produced in association with BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Concert Orchestra
Playing time: 77:02
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7357

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07 Nov

A Song for Christmas

Written by

Mantovani and his Orchestra
Eloquence 4840268

Your reviewer was surprised and delighted to find this release listed by the enterprising Australian classical label. It contains the two best albums of Christmas music ever recorded by a non-American light orchestra.

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03 Nov

North by Northwest

Written by

(Bernard Herrmann)
Main Title analysed by Robert Walton

One of the most memorable tension-ridden moments in cinema history has got to be the nail-biting sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when Cary Grant was chased by a crop-dusting aeroplane on prairie wasteland. There was no music during this segment and apart from sudden spurts of sound from the aeroplane, silence reigned. If you’ve never seen the film I urge you to...

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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.