14 Feb

Music For Romance

By  Robert Walton
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Music For Romance
(Sherwin, Maschwitz)
Analysed by Robert Walton

The American practice of using surnames as first names has always appealed to me, firstly because they’re different and secondly they sound more engaging and impressive. One that comes immediately to mind is Manning Sherwin (1902-1974). (a name not a million miles from Gershwin).

Born in Philadelphia, Sherwin went to Columbia University and had a long career in musical theatre and films. He was known for “Empire of the Sun” and “Hi Gang”. However his main claim to fame was as tunesmith for one of the best songs of the 20th century - A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square with words by Eric Maschwitz written for “New Faces”. From Binnie Hale’s 1939 operetta “Magyar Melody”, Albert Sandler gives his typical Palm Court treatment of Music for Romance - a world away from Berkeley Square.

Essentially it’s a fast waltz introduced by a series of impressionistic harmonies - the sort that Dizzy Gillespie borrowed for bebop. It’s essentially a piano solo with orchestra starting the number off in a 1930s/40s style. Of particular note is the excellent touch of the pianist. The orchestra stays for the bridge and together they continue to support each other in this section. The bridge returns quite quickly with our soloist resuming his role.

Now we come to the highlight of the piece with a subtle upward key change when violinist Sandler gets mesmerized by the tune and treats it with the utmost respect by slowing it down and squeezing every inch out of its beautiful melody. Only Sandler could do that in his own special way. If you listen carefully you will hear the Sherwin harmonic style even in this comparatively straight tune. Most composers never completely lose it.

Back to the orchestra as it gradually builds up to the original tempo while the piano performs an accompanying role for a well-controlled ending. Finally a word about Sandler’s tone. He never applies any tricks but sticks closely to the tune without any apparent effort. The result is pure perfection. He has no need to be a prodigy because his vibrato is so absolutely “natural”. And there lies the word that sums up this artist of extraordinary talent. There aren’t many left now!

Golden Age of Light Music - the 1940s
Guild GLCD 5102

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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.

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