Great British Composers – Volume 2

User Rating: 1 / 5

Star ActiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive


Great British Composers – Volume 2

1 Commonwealth March (Walter Stott)
Chappell C628 1959
2 London Fair (Charles Williams)
DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON (‘Melodi Light Orchestra conducted by Ole Jensen’ on disc label)
Chappell C 488 1954
"Harvest Time Suite" (Haydn Wood)
3 Harvesters’ Dance
4 Interlude
5 Harvest Home
Boosey & Hawkes BH 1931 1939
6 Muse In Mayfair (Vivian Ellis, arr. Sidney Torch)
Chappell C 346 1948
7 Nocturne (Stanford Robinson)
Boosey & Hawkes OT 2129 1948
8 First Waltz (Reginald King)
Bosworth BC 1187 1944
9 Windjammer Overture (John Ansell)
Boosey & Hawkes OT 2077 1946
10 Accent On Waltz (Sidney Torch)
Chappell C 333 1947
"London Again Suite" (Eric Coates)
11 Oxford Street (March)
12 Langham Place (Elegy)
13 Mayfair (Valse)
Parlophone PMD 1004 1953
14 A Young Man’s Fancy (Ernest Tomlinson)
Bosworth BCV 1372 1962
15 Punchinello (Frederic Curzon)
ROYAL AIR FORCE CENTRAL BAND Conducted by Squadron Leader A.E. SIMS
Boosey & Hawkes O 2137 1948
16 Dance Of The Snowflakes (Ronald Binge)
LANSDOWNE LIGHT ORCHESTRA (probably the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra)
Impress IA 206 1959
"In A Fairy Realm Suite" (Albert William Ketèlbey)
17 Moonlit Glade
18 Queen Fairy Dances
19 Gnomes’ March
Bosworth BC 1130, 1131 1940
20 Persian Dance (Sir Granville Bantock)
Paxton PR 573 1952
21 Chanson de Matin (Sir Edward Elgar)
HMV B 10404 1953
22 With Noble Purpose – Grand March (Trevor Duncan, real name Leonard Charles Trebilco)
THE SYMPHONIA ORCHESTRA Conducted by CURT ANDERSEN (probably the Danish State Radio Orchestra)
Charles Brull/Harmonic CBL 424 1958

The warm reception given to Guild’s first collection focussing on notable British Light Music composers (GLCD5195) has prompted this further selection. Most of the names will be familiar to those whose interests embrace this area of the music scene, although it is hoped that there may be pleasant surprises in between some of the more familiar works.

The honour of providing the opening piece of music goes to Walter ‘Wally’ Stott (1924-2009) with Commonwealth March, one of many works he contributed to the Chappell Recorded Music Library. During his early career he played alto sax with bands such as Geraldo, for whom he also did many arrangements. The positive reaction from fellow musicians, such as Robert Farnon (1917-2005), encouraged Wally to start composing and this dictated the direction in which his future career would develop. In 1972 he became Angela Morley, and was soon recognised internationally as one of Britain’s finest arrangers and film composers. She eventually relocated to the Los Angeles area, where she worked on several big budget movies - one example is the "Star Wars" series assisting John Williams. She also contributed scores to prestigious TV shows such as "Dallas" and "Dynasty", and provided many arrangements for the Boston ‘Pops’ Orchestra. Eighteen of her compositions have previously been included in this series of Guild CDs.

London Fair is a typical piece by another composer and conductor who played a leading role in London’s production music libraries. Charles Williams (born Isaac Cozerbreit, 1893-1978) was involved from the start of the ‘talkies’, and he provided scores for numerous British films. His Dream Of Olwen (on GLCD5192)is still remembered long after the film in which it appeared – "While I Live".

Haydn Wood (1882-1959) was a contemporary of Eric Coates, and their respective careers followed similar paths, beginning with ballads (Haydn Wood’s big success was with Roses of Picardy) leading to their acceptance as leading composers of light music. Coates was particularly successful in writing popular signature tunes, thus bringing him more to the attention of the public at large. But Haydn Wood fully deserves to be recognised as a composer of true worth, with many of his suites containing real substance. No less than 28 of his works have already appeared on Guild CDs ("Joyousness" – GLCD5121 – was entirely devoted to his music), and it is believed that his "Harvest Time Suite" is now receiving its first commercial release on this CD.

Vivian Ellis (1903-1996) was only 24 when he had his first big success in London’s West End with his show ‘Mr. Cinders’, and he devoted the major part of his illustrious career to the musical stage. However he also wrote several pieces of light music which have become ‘classics’ in their own right, the most famous being Coronation Scot (on GLCD5120, and in a Ronald Binge arrangement for Mantovani on GLCD5181) which was initially well-known in Britain through its use as one of the signature tunes for BBC Radio’s "Paul Temple" series in the 1940s. Another familiar piece was Alpine Pastures (GLCD5169) used by the BBC to introduce "My Word". Like some of his contemporaries, Vivian Ellis possessed the precious skill of being able to conjure up a strong melody, although he preferred to leave it to others to orchestrate his creations. It is known that Cecil Milner (1905-1989) was responsible for the famous train sounds in the original version of Coronation Scot, but the Ellis melody in this collection, Muse In Mayfair, had the benefit of a superb orchestration by that master of Light Music, Sidney Torch (1908-1990) who also conducts the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra.

Torch is also featured again in this collection with his own composition Accent On Waltz. He was born Sidney Torchinsky, of Ukranian parents, at 27 Tottenham Court Road, in London’s West End. He was well-known in Britain for his numerous Parlophone recordings, as well as his long tenure as conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra in the "Friday Night Is Music Night" BBC radio programme. Prior to the Second World War he was one of Britain’s finest theatre organists. After war service in the Royal Air Force, where he conducted the RAF Concert Orchestra, he made a complete break from playing the organ and concentrated entirely on composing, arranging and conducting light music. Towards the end of his life he was awarded the MBE, but sadly did not seem to enjoy a happy retirement. He had no children, and his wife pre-deceased him. In his will the beneficiary of all his royalties was the MacMillan Cancer Relief Fund.

Stanford Robinson (1904-1984) was born in Leeds and during his early musical career he played the piano in hotel orchestras, until attending the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied conducting under Sir Adrian Boult. From 1924 to 1966 he was on the staff of the BBC: he conducted the BBC Theatre Orchestra from 1932 to 1946 (making some commercial recordings for Decca, two of which are on GLCD5118 and 5134), and was also director of music productions (including opera and operetta) from 1936 to 1946. From 1946 to 1949 he was opera director and associate conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (during this period he conducted his own composition Nocturne for the Boosey & Hawkes Recorded Music Library), and he served as conductor of the BBC Opera Orchestra as an opera organiser from 1949 until 1952. He undertook various appointments (including numerous broadcasts) in his later BBC career, until his official retirement in 1966, when he went to the southern hemisphere. He continued to conduct various orchestras in Australia and New Zealand during the remainder of 1966 and 1967. In 1968 he was appointed chief conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. He was awarded the OBE, and eventually returned to England, and died in Brighton.

Reginald Claude McMahon King (1904-1991) was an accomplished pianist, who performed under the baton of Sir Henry Wood at the Proms soon after he completed his studies at London’s Royal Academy. In 1927 he took an orchestra into Swan & Edgar’s restaurant at their Piccadilly Circus store, where they remained until 1939. During this period he also started broadcasting regularly (his number of broadcasts exceeded 1,400), and he made numerous recordings, often featuring his own attractive compositions. Some of his works (including First Waltz on this CD) appeared in the Bosworth Mood Music Library. He made his last broadcast in 1964, but during a long retirement he continued composing until shortly before his death. One of his major works, the concert overture The Immortals, was featured on Guild GLCD5106.

John Ansell (1874-1948) was at one time assistant conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and he was also frequently employed in London theatres. As a composer he may be familiar to music lovers for his overture Plymouth Hoe (which he conducts on Guild GLCD5106) and Windjammer Overture (an edited version is on GLCD5163). But sadly a lot of his quite considerable catalogue of music is now neglected, including several suites – once so popular among concertgoers. One of these was "The Shoe", from which three of the five movements were featured on GLCD5195. In response to a number of requests the full version of his Windjammer Overture is now included in this collection.

The English composer Eric Coates (1886-1957) was widely regarded as ‘the Uncrowned King of Light Music’ during the first half of the last century. His famous "London Suite" was featured in Guild’s first collection devoted entirely to British composers, and now it is the turn of the sequel – "London Again Suite", which Coates composed three years later in 1936. The first movement, Oxford Street is a bustling march depicting London’s famous shopping street; next the elegy Langham Place where the BBC’s Broadcasting House is situated (Coates’ Knightsbridge March crops up, due to its use as the signature tune for radio’s "In Town Tonight"); and finally the ‘valse’ Mayfair. He first recorded this Suite for EMI’s Columbia label with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 30 April and 1 May 1936, and again for Decca in October 1948 – this time conducting the New Symphony Orchestra (mainly a recording outfit comprising players from the capital’s top symphony orchestras). Barely four years later EMI decided that they, too, should have a modern recording in their catalogue, so Coates was back in Studio One at Abbey Road on 30 September 1952 with the Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra (actually 46 members of the London Philharmonic). This is the version selected for this CD.

Ernest Tomlinson(b.1924) is one of Britain’s most talented composers, working mainly in light music, but also highly regarded for his choral works and brass band pieces. During a very productive career, he has contributed numerous titles to the recorded music libraries of many different publishers, often under the pseudonym ‘Alan Perry’. One of his best-known numbers is Little Serenade, which he developed from a theme he wrote as incidental music for a radio production ‘The Story of Cinderella’ in 1955. His suites of English Folk Dances have also become part of the standard light music repertoire. He is represented on this CD by A Young Man’s Fancy, one of numerous works he contributed to various recorded music libraries. Ernest was awarded the MBE in 2012.

London-born Frederic Curzon (1899-1973) was a charming, unassuming man who devoted his early career to working in the theatre, and like so many of his contemporaries he gradually became involved in providing music for silent films. As well as being a fine pianist and a conductor, he also played the organ, and his first big success as a composer was his "Robin Hood Suite" in 1937. This encouraged him to devote more of his time to writing and broadcasting, and several of his works have become light music ‘standards’, notably March Of The Bowmen (from "Robin Hood Suite") on GLCD5106, and The Boulevardier (GLCD5177). Punchinello has been a popular work among light music admirers ever since it first appeared in 1948.

Ronald Binge (1910-1979) is destined to remain forever remembered as the gifted arranger who designed the ‘cascading strings’ effect for Mantovani, but his true achievements deserve far greater recognition. He was a prolific composer in his own right - Elizabethan Serenade (GLCD5162 & 5184), The Watermill (GLCD5183), Miss Melanie (GLCD5182)and BBC Radio-4’s closing music Sailing By are just four favourites. He also ventured into more serious territory with his Saxophone Concerto in 1956, and his Saturday Symphony a decade later. Like many of his contemporaries, he discovered that the recorded music libraries of London publishers were a useful source of income, and the happy result is that charming pieces like Dance Of The Snowflakes are preserved for us all to enjoy.

Albert William Ketèlbey (1875-1959) was a highly successful composer, who earned today’s equivalent of millions of pounds during the peak of his popularity. Pieces such as In a Monastery Garden, The Phantom Melody, In a Persian Market (GLCD5120) and Bells Across the Meadow (GLCD5108)brought him international fame, no doubt assisted by his enthusiastic participation in the rapidly growing business of producing gramophone records. He was able to spend his later years in comfortable retirement on the peaceful Isle of Wight. The Suite "In A Fairy Realm" was one of many pieces he composed for Bosworth & Co.

Sir Granville Bantock (1868-1946), who was knighted in 1930, has previously been represented by two contrasting works on a Guild CD – Sea Reivers and Oriental Dance (GLCD5140). He is said to have been influenced by the folk music of the Hebrides (off the coast of Scotland) and the music of Richard Wagner, and at one time his work was being compared with Elgar. In fact he succeeded Sir Edward Elgar as professor of music at the University of Birmingham in 1908. In recent years Bantock’s music has enjoyed a modest revival with new recordings of some of his major compositions, notably his Hebridean, Celtic and Pagan symphonies. He was instrumental in the founding of the City of Birmingham Orchestra whose first performance in 1920 was of his Overture: Saul. In later years the London publishers William Paxton championed his work, and the charming Persian Dance was included in their recorded music library.

Most of his major choral and symphonic works were written by Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) during a relatively short period from 1898 to 1914, but he composed what can accurately be described as ‘light music’ throughout his life. Notable works in this genre include his Bavarian Dances, Chanson de Matin (on this CD) and Salut d’Amour (GLCD5122).

Regular collectors of this Guild series of CDs will already be familiar with the music of Trevor Duncan (real name Leonard Charles Trebilco, 1924-2005). Some 30 titles have now been reissued, and among the best-known are his first success High Heels (on Guild GLCD5124), Grand Vista (GLCD5124) and Panoramic Splendour (GLCD5111). When pressed to reveal his own personal favourite among all his works the reply was not one of his many catchy novelties, but the atmospheric St Boniface Down (on GLCD5157) composed in October 1956; it is named after an area on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. With Noble Purpose reveals how this composer felt at ease with stately marches, and the great Sir Edward might have smiled if he had known how much his influence would still be guiding his fellow composers in the later years of the 20th century.

David Ades

Submit to Facebook