29 Jun

Obituaries RFS members John White and Ralph Thompson

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It is our sad duty to record the deaths of two more former members of the Robert Farnon Society, both of which have occurred during the last few months.

John White

John White was a regular attendee at RFS and then LLMMG meetings.

By profession a Group Manager for London Underground, latterly at Kings Cross Station, John passed away at West Middlesex Hospital in December 2019, having unfortunately suffered two strokes.

He was a great devotee of Frank Sinatra and possessed a huge collection of recordings of the latter. He would be seen taking copious notes throughout our meetings and was always on the lookout for new CDs that interested him.

Ralph Thompson

Ralph Thompson will be remembered by many for his video recordings of RFS meetings, particularly those which had taken place on special occasions.

A civil engineer in professional life, Ralph had a number of interests, including photography and videography, cycling and old London buses, in addition to Light Music and record collecting.

Regrettably, he had suffered kidney failure towards the end of 2019 and died during February of this year.

Another of our supporters, Peter Luck, was a friend of both John and Ralph, and we are obliged to Peter for providing this information.

Tony Clayden
June 2020

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25 Jun

City Lights - Lisa Batiashvili

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Deutshe Grammophon 483 8586 (65.54)

This is a winner in the ‘crossover’ album stakes, taking its name from the 1931 Charlie Chaplin film. Georgian-born German Lisa Batiashvili is considered special even among the very many fine violinists of her generation, praised by both audiences and fellow musicians for her virtuosity and sensitivity.

Read the review here...

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18 Jun

George Melachrino

Written by

Vocalist
By Robert Walton

Over the years I have always been aware that string man George Melachrino was an occasional singer in the dance band world but I had never heard him, let alone seen him in that role.

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17 Jun

Like To The Lark

Written by

Jennifer Pike ● Maria Forsström
The Swedish Chamber Choir / Simon Phipps
Chandos CHSA5255 (63.54)

The main interest in this release will be The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams...

Read the review by Peter Burt here...

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12 Jun

Obituary Jim Palm

Written by

It is with regret that we record the death of former Robert Farnon Society member Jim Palm, on April 6th.

Many LLMMG supporters may remember Jim, who, back in the 90s, used to attend our London meetings. For several years he assisted David Ades with the editing of Journal Into Melody, to which he was also a regular contributor.

He hailed from Edgware, Middlesex [on the NW periphery of London] and in professional life worked for the BBC in the latter’s gramophone library.

Upon his retirement from the Corporation, he moved to Salisbury, where he amassed his own sizeable collection of recorded music, much of it comprising discs from the libraries of publishers such as Chappells and Boosey & Hawkes.

Jim had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Light Music, which was put to good use in the many articles he wrote for JIM and also for newspapers and periodicals in his locality.

Tony Clayden, June 2020

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04 Jun

Different Versions of the Same Set Light Music Selections - Another Look

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As my friend Graham Miles has posted two versions of a piece by Peter Yorke entitled "Fireflies" which are distinctly different by virtue of length, I will take a moment to touch on this particular subject, as it raises some very interesting questions to which there may be myriad answers.

Read the article by William Zucker here...

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01 Jun

Timeless – The David Snell Trio - Cd Review

Written by

timeless   david snell trioDavid Snell – harp , John Dean – drums , Arthur Watts - bass

Jazz harpists are a very rare breed ! Indeed, it is difficult to think of more than a handful in the entire world, nearly all hailing from the United States.

Pre- eminent amongst this select group is our own ‘home-grown’ David Snell, a consummate musician of many talents.

Read the review by Tony Clayden here...

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26 May

Johnny Gregory (1924 – 2020)

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It is with regret that we record the death of the conductor, composer and arranger Johnny Gregory, who died at his home in Gerrards Cross, Berkshire on April 23rd 2020, about six months short of his 96th birthday.

During his long career, he wrote the scores for fourteen films, (the last in 2000) and TV shows, and was principal conductor of the BBC Radio Orchestra between 1973 to 1974.

He made numerous recordings, both under his own name and (possibly more famously) as Chaquito.

Gregory used a number of other pseudonyms and his orchestra often appeared under the name of The Cascading Strings.

A comprehensive article about his life and work is in preparation and will be published on the LLMMG website in due course.

Tony Clayden
May 2020

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19 May

Big City

Written by

(Robert Busby)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

The Chappell recorded music library created quite a stir in the music business when it came into being in 1941 with a series of 78s specifically designed for the use of radio, films and especially newsreels.

Read the article here...

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09 May

Pourcel Portraits

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Instrumentals À La Française
Franck Pourcel And His Orchestra
Sepia 1352 (74:34)

This is the real deal. I was delighted when it eventually plopped through my letter box – thank you, Postie – as the French composer, arranger and conductor, who died 20 years ago, has long been my favourite continental purveyor of our kind of music. And by all accounts he was a perfectionist but a nice guy. The delightful photo of him on the front of the booklet is an indication of the delights on the CD.

Read the review here...

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04 May

It’s A Lovely Day Tomorrow

Written by

(Irving Berlin)
Analysed by Robert Walton

This is a song written in 1939 by a certain Siberian weather forecaster named Irving Berlin. It was inspired by a conversation between him and the British/Hungarian film producer Alexander Korda in a New York taxicab.

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23 Apr

Korngold Violin Concerto & String Sextet

Written by

Andrew Haveron, Sinfonia Of London Chamber
Ensemble, Rtế Concert Orchestra, Cond. John Wilson
Chandos CHAN20135 (56’)

I referred to this concerto in my previous Korngold review (CHSA5220) last year. It was written 30 years after the young composer had been lavishly praised by Richard Strauss, and who then forsook classical music to become the toast of Hollywood...

Read the review here...

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16 Mar

Saint-Saëns Ascanio – Ballet

Written by

Malmö Symphony Orchestra / Jun Märkl
Naxos 8.574033 (73:38)

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) – born in Paris: a composer, organist, conductor and pianist – is best known for his Carnival of the Animals (particularly ‘The Swan’), Danse Macabre and Third ‘Organ’ Symphony, but he wrote a lot more besides.

Read the review here...

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29 Feb

Filarmonica Della a Scala / Riccardo Chailly

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Decca 4831591 (74:22)

Celebrated Italian conductor, Riccardo Chailly – recently named Diapson D’Or magazine ‘Artist of the Year’ – and his Milanese opera house orchestra have already twice been enthusiastically reviewed on this website: firstly, when he became musical director in 2017 (Decca 4831148) and then for their lauded 2019 Fellini album (Decca 4832869). In this latest release they turn their attention to Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), who Beethoven regarded as the greatest of his contemporaries.

Read the review here...

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10 Feb

Limavady

Written by

By Robert Walton

One place my wife and I had always wanted to see was the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. And conveniently now living in the Republic of Ireland, we were in the perfect position to visit this minor Wonder of the World.

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06 Feb

Mademoiselle In New York

Written by

Lucienne Renaudin Vary (trumpet)
BBC Concert Orchestra, Bill Elliott
Warner Classics 9029540710 (59’)

Here’s a discovery – thank you Classic FM – a 21-year-old French trumpeter, who is also a siffleuse, and a singer of sorts...

Read the review here...

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06 Feb

Little Women

Written by

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Music by Alexander Desplat
Sony 19439702752 (63:38)

It may be that I am one of the few men who have willingly accompanied their woman to see the well-received film of ‘Little Women’. Several times during the showing, while not being gripped by the onscreen action (or inaction), I was particularly struck by the music...

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03 Feb

Cimarosa : overtures ● 6

Written by

Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice
Patrick Gallois
Naxos 8.574046 (79:43)

Born near Naples in 1749, Domenico Cimarosa was thought in his day the equal of Mozart and Haydn with 80 or so operas to his name, serious as well as comic.

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27 Jan

Touch Me Softly

Written by

(Hoffman-Allen)
George Shearing Quintet with String Choir
Analysed by Robert Walton

Most professional singers make it a practice to do a thorough sound and familiarization check before performing on stage, especially one that’s new to them. Dame Vera Lynn was no exception and lucky enough to have the expertise of her fastidious husband Harry Lewis who always made sure that everything was just perfect. I was her pianist in the mid-60s when the three of us entered the Stoke-on-Trent venue to give it the once over.

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27 Jan

Escales: French Orchestral Works

Written by

Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5252 (79:05)

With lead features on him in forthcoming issues of both Gramophone and BBC Music magazines, our charismatic friend from RFS meeting days, John Wilson, is nowadays as ‘big’ in the world of classical music as he is in the kind of music we love. Here he follows his massively acclaimed album of Erich Wolfgang Korngold works (CHSA 5220) with the re-established Sinfonia of London, this time featuring compositions by French composers.

Read the review here...

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15 Jan

New Year’s Concert 2020

Written by

Wiener Philharmoniker ● Andris Nelsons
Sony 2CDs 19439702362 ; Sony DVD Video 19439702379

If I had a bucket list, top of it would to have been in the Vienna audience for the 81st New Year’s Day concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Read the review here...

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04 Jan

Auber : Overtures Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice

Written by

Dario Salvi
Naxos 8.574005 (64:50)

One of the most popular and prolific of his time, the French composer Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782-1871) was prominent in the 19th-century cultivation of opera containing spoken as well as sung passages (comic opera or opéra-comique).

Apparently, M. Auber was an affable character whose music reflected his personality and Parisian elegance.

Read the review here...

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04 Dec

André Rieu And His Johann Strauss Orchestra - Happy Days

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Decca CD 5487980 (67’) + DVD (58')

As sure as day follows night, here is the charismatic Dutchman’s annual album selection of our kind of music to brighten the dark days of December and beyond. Needless to say, it immediately shot to the top of the Classic FM best-seller chart.

Read the review here...

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01 Dec

Vaughan Williams - Orchestral Works

Written by

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Andrew Manze
Onyx 4212 (69:23)

This release is an addendum to Beckenham-born conductor and violinist Andrew Manze’s critically acclaimed recordings of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ (1872-1958) nine symphonies. These would probably be a bit heavy for a lot of light music enthusiasts but the orchestral works on this album are more approachable and among the most popular ‘The Grand Old Man of English Music’ wrote.

Read the review here...

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27 Nov

Beatles Go Baroque ● 2

Written by

Peter Breiner and His Orchestra
Naxos 8.574078 (70’09)

27 years ago, the Naxos label released an album called ‘Beatles Go Baroque’, which is still listed in the catalogue (8.55510) having achieved multi-platinum award status. What we have now in their Light Music series is the sequel, going one better than the original by keeping the 18th-century masterpieces largely intact, stylishly merging them with the Beatles’ enduring melodies.

Read the review here...

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23 Nov

High Strung

Written by

(Larry Coleman, Buddy Dufault)
Axel Stordahl’s Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

Composer (of I Should Care and Day by Day), vocalist, arranger and conductor, Axel Stordahl’s main claim to fame was as musical director and advisor to Frank Sinatra during the first decade of the singer’s career. Axel is the Danish form of Absalom but even after all this time some disc jockeys still call him “Alex”. He is largely credited with bringing pop arranging into the modern era. More specifically he was a pioneer of symphonic-style backings in a popular context. Kostelanetz was the orchestra-only equivalent. Make no mistake though, Stordahl was just as capable of conventional big band arranging.

Read the article here...

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19 Nov

Alison Balsom Royal Fireworks

Written by

Balsom Ensemble
Warner Classics 0190295370060 (57’02)

If I can’t always have my favourite French horns I’ll settle for the trumpet, especially when it’s played by Alison Balsom who, although still in her early 40s, has been making CDs for 17 years and this, her first since 2016, is No.13. She has said that the making of it has been by far the most enjoyable recording experience she has had.

Read the review here...

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10 Nov

Back In Harmony

Written by

Aled Jones & Russell Watson
Back In Harmony
BMG 538539282 (48’41)

14 tracks including Funicula, Funiculi; Shenandoah; Lucky, Lucky, Lucky Me; Night and Day; Make Me a Channel of Your Peace; The Loveliest Night of the Year; and The Lord Bless You and Keep You

This is the follow-up to the couple’s first album, ‘In Harmony’, which was last year’s biggest seller by homegrown artists in the Classic FM chart. There is no reason why this should not be equally successful. Aled believes that it is even better than the first!

Read the review here...

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08 Nov

Ballet Evergreens

Written by

National Ballet Orchestra, Pietro Garda
Regis RRC1286 (74’37)

If you are a lover of light music but have never seriously considered listening to ballet music, then this is the disc for you. At a super-budget price, it is chockfull of good tunes. Those of us who are familiar with this genre of music may also find something here that is not already in our CD collections. For me such a piece, with its whooping French horns, is Les Chasseresses (The Huntresses) from the ballet ‘Sylvia’ by the French composer Delibes, that had recently caught my ear on Classic FM.

Read the review here...

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06 Nov

American Concertos

Written by

Baiba Skride (violin)
Gothenburg Symphony & Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
cond. Santtu-Matias Rouvali
Orfeo C 932182A (58’43 & 58’38)

This is a release from the end of last year, which somehow eluded me but is well worth recommending. I cannot do better than quote from the back of the wrapround case that it is “In the grand tradition of the best film music: three great violin concertos – demandingly virtuosic, ravishingly orchestrated, imaginative and immediately accessible and rising above the sterile debate about ‘light’ and ‘serious’ music.”

Read the review here...

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24 Oct

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2

Written by

Boris Giltburg, Piano
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko
Naxos 8.574151 (73:51)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) wrote five piano concertos and they are among my all-time favourites. Here we have an eminently enjoyable release of the first two played by the much-lauded Russian born (1984) Israeli soloist, ably supported by one of this country’s finest orchestras under its Russian chief conductor.

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05 Oct

BBC Northern Ireland Light Orchestra - A New Double Cd From The N.D.O Project

Written by

flowersofantrimFollowing their successful series of recordings of the BBC Northern Dance orchestra, Scottish Variety Orchestra and Midland Radio Orchestra, the N.D.O Project are now pleased to present their latest recording - a double CD of the erstwhile BBC Northern Ireland Light Orchestra which provided light music several times a week to listeners of the BBC for over thirty years. Having been involved in selecting the tracks, I could be accused of bias when I say that the 56 tracks on this album, all taken from vintage radio programmes such as 'Morning Music' and 'Melody on the Move' probably represent the finest collection of tuneful light music that you are ever likely to encounter on CD.

This is the music with which many of us grew up, good tunes composed by such talented musicians as George Melachrino, Sidney Torch, Peter Yorke, Ron Goodwin and many others. Most of the conductors who fronted this orchestra over the years are represented, in particular their founder conductor David Curry, whose arrangements of Irish traditional tunes became world famous and are included on this CD.

Copies are available by contacting the NDO project at 

If you are local to Manchester, there is normally 1 copy at Johnny Roadhouse's shop
123 Oxford Road,
All Saints,
Manchester
M1 7DU.

Tel 0161 273 1111 to check for stock on all NDO project CDs

Brian Reynolds

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27 Sep

Eric Coates: Orchestral Works Vol.1

Written by

BBC Philharmonic, John Wilson
Chandos CHAN 20036 (70.39)

This is another John Wilson winner from the label based in my home town of Colchester. Eric Francis Harrison Coates, composer, conductor and violist born Hucknall (Notts) in 1886, will need little introduction for most devotees of our kind of music. The likes of By The Sleepy Lagoon, The Dam Busters March and Calling All Workers would be recognised throughout the land.

Read the review here...

With additional comments by Tony Clayden.

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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.

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22 May

Jess Gilliam: Rise

Written by

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...

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27 Apr

Lang Lang Piano Book

Written by

Deutsche Grammophon 4797441(72.32)

Lang Lang is a phenomenal pianist who often plays in a flamboyantly confident style, making some critics a bit sniffy about him. He has been out of action with tendinitis in his left arm since March 2017, but is back now with this attractive album of pieces which inspired him to be a musician in the first place.

Read the review here...

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23 Apr

The Farnon Musical Lineage

Written by

Thomas Farnon   BW Headshot sInterview with Thomas Farnon
by Dan Adams

Thomas Farnon is a film composer. He has worked with film composers as illustrious as Hans Zimmer as well as contributing music for a variety of films including The Dark Knight Rises, Churchill and Hacksaw Ridge.

Recently, Thomas has co-founded Chromium Music Group, a boutique music house and has been releasing albums of his non-film work under this label.

Read the interview here...

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18 Apr

One More Time – documentary about 60s and 70s session players

Written by

One More Time is a work in progress documentary which tells the story of the musicians who worked on studio sessions during the sixties and seventies. Several former members of The JB7 have taken part.

Project director Alan Boyd would very much appreciate it if you would check out the website at

https://www.onemoretimedocumentary.com/

and also visit, like, and share the facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/onemoretimedocumentary

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11 Apr

Johann Sebastian Bach : Violin Concertos

Written by

Sinfonias ● Overture ● Sonatas
Isabelle Faust
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
Bernhard Forck (violin), Xenia Loeffler (oboe & recorder)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 90233536 (2 hrs 23 mins)

Many aficionados of great music would name J S Bach (other Bachs are available) as their favourite composer.

Read the review here...

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06 Apr

Jan Lisiecki - Mendelssohn : Piano Concertos

Written by

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
DG 4836471 (63 mins.)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47), a prolific German composer, is probably best known for his Overture and incidental music for ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ (particularly ‘Wedding March’), Italianand Scottish Symphonies, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides (‘Fingal’s Cave’), a great Violin Concerto, and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. (He also wrote 12 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14!)

Read the review here...

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06 Apr

Haunted Heart

Written by

(Arthur Schwartz)
Arranged by Russ Case
Analysed by Robert Walton

Back in the days of 78 records some of the best numbers would have slipped through the net if it hadn’t been for the phenomenon of B sides. Many of them were so beautiful they often musically outshone the hit itself. Hence the practice of meticulously checking both sides. So I was assigned to the “Case!”

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23 Feb

Sailing By - 25 British Light Classics

Written by

Iain Sutherland Concert Orchestra
Alto ALC 1392 (79:30 mins)

Tracks incl. The Dambusters, By the Sleepy Lagoon, Coronation Scot, Sailing By, Devils’ Galop, Vanity Fair, Spitfire Prelude, Headless Horseman, Intermezzo - Escape to Happiness, and Jamaican Rumba

Read the review here...

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07 Feb

At last, the Farnon filmography mysteries solved.. almost

Written by

The classic Robert Farnon discography is one of the great triumphs of musical research from the pre-computer days, when collating information about a composer's life & works was nothing short of damned hard labour (many's the hour I've spent laboriously trawling through catalogues and periodicals at the old National Sound Archive in South Ken)

Read the article here, or in the Robert Farnon Discography section (scroll down).

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31 Jan

Up With The Lark

Written by

(Robert Busby)
Analysed by Robert Walton

The sounds of nature, and particularly those of birds have always appealed to serious composers. It was Messiaen who religiously notated the songs of all French birds classifying them by region. In his “Pastoral Symphony” Beethoven gives us the nightingale, the quail and the cuckoo. The latter has it all to itself in “On Hearing The First Cuckoo In Spring” by Delius. However perhaps the best known and much loved work in the classical field is Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.

Read the article here...

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22 Jan

2019 Aspidistra Bank Holiday Afternoon Concert

Written by

The Aspidistra Bank Holiday Afternoon Concert this year is planned to take place on the27th May 2019  at Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG, starting at 2:30 pm.

The programme has not been fixed as yet, but details will be added as soon as they are.

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06 Jan

Aled Jones & Russell Watson - In Harmony

Written by

BMG 5053844533 (54:26)

How Great Thou Art, Where Have All The Flowers Gone / Here’s To The Heroes, Cinema Paradiso, You Raise Me Up, Mattinata, Volare, Silent Night, and seven other tracks.

Read the review here...

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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’)

Read the review here...

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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.

Read the review here...

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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.

Read the review here...

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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”.

Read the article here...

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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...

Read the review here...

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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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19 Oct

Renaud Capuçon : Cinema

Written by

Renaud Capuçon (violin) ● Brussels Philharmonic,
Stėphane Denève
Erato 190295633936 (76:17)

Having already established that nowadays new recordings of ’our kind of music’ are almost as rare as the proverbial hens’ teeth, it makes this album all the more welcome.

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26 Sep

Ciao, Ciao Bambina (Modugno)

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Percy Faith arrangement analysed
by Robert Walton

Back in 1963 somewhere in the Bay of Biscay, I was the pianist on the Greek liner Lakonia with a quartet consisting of Norman Coker (leader and drummer), David Williams (double bass) and Mike Elliott (tenor saxophone). He was constantly extolling the virtues of the great jazz tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins (which he pronounced “Coil-marn Harkins”).

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13 Sep

The MGM Sound & Hollywood Melodies

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The Conrad Salinger Orchestra
Georgie Stoll conducts the MGM Studio Orchestra
Sepia 1333 (73:32)

Congratulations to Sepia’s Richard Tay for giving us a rarity these days: a release very much “our kind of music’’, which – up to its sad demise almost five years ago – would have been one of many similar releases reviewed in the Robert Farnon Society’s printed Journal Into Melody.

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02 Sep

Bernstein - Broadway to Hollywood

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Candide – Overture On The Waterfront – Symphonic Suite Fancy Free – complete ballet
West Side Story – Symphonic Dances On The Town –Two Dance Episodes.
Hanover Philharmonie – conductor Iain Sutherland.

SOMM ARIADNE 5002

Possessed of a prodigious talent, Leonard Bernstein arguably became one of the most significant – and indeed famous – American musical figures of the mid/late twentieth century...

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01 Sep

Joly Braga Santos

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Joly Braga Santos - Orchestral MusicOrchestral Music Naxos 8.573903 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic conducted by Alvaro Cassuto. Symphonic Overtures 1 & 2; Pastoral; Romance; Symphonic Prelude; Intermezzo; Viver ou Morrer Prelude; Piano Concerto. Imagine a delicious cross between...

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01 Sep

British Light Music at the British Home

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On Sunday 24th February 2019 the Mark FitzGerald Orchestra is holding its annual fundraising concert in aid of the British Home.

Venue:
Concert Hall,
The British Home,
Crown Lane
London SW16 3JB

Time: 3.00pm

Tickets: £7.00 [Concessions £5.00] to include tea and coffee.

Booking: 020-8670 8261 or www.britishhome.org.uk Seating is limited- early booking is advised.

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23 Aug

On Green Dolphin Street

Written by

(Bronislau Kaper)
Analysed by Robert Walton

It’s hard to believe that a film tune as original as On Green Dolphin Street would remain virtually unknown for over ten years.

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21 Aug

Bennett: Orchestral Works, Vol.2

Written by

Howard Mcgill (saxophone)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra ● John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5212 (69:25)

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20 Aug

My Waltz for You

Written by

(Sidney Torch)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

It may not have occurred to you, but Sidney Torch and Nelson Riddle have something in common.

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28 Jul

American composer/conductor Patrick Williams passes away

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As he was internationally known (mostly for TV Themes and big band jazz arrangements), members of RFS might like to know that American composer/conductor Patrick Williams has passed away.

We refer to the Variety article here.

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19 Jul

Dardanella

Written by

(Felix Barnard and Johnny S Black (music)
Ben Selvin and his Novelty Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

Over the years I have regularly mentioned one of the most significant moments of popular instrumental history in the 20th century, that of David Rose’s million selling Holiday for Strings of 1944. Its influence on light music is still being felt right up to the present day...

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14 Jul

Hit and Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven

Written by

Barry Seven Book cover idea

In a few months time, our book "Hit and Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven" will be published. Thoroughly and painstakingly researched over a number of years, it will feature contributions from several ex-members of the band and from friends and relatives of John Barry.

Comprising of around 350 pages, it will also be packed with an array of rare photos of the band, and the singers they often supported, as well as some unique images of memorabilia and documentation from that era; some never previously published, many more seldom seen.

Even if you are not necessarily a devotee of The John Barry Seven per se, the book offers a fascinating historical insight into the British music scene of the period and, more importantly, provides an essential read for anybody remotely interested in discovering more about John Barry's formative career.

It will be of great assistance to the authors if you would indicate an interest in purchasing a copy of the book *now*, without obligation. We will then be able to notify you as soon as the book is available with details of cost and how to order and pay.

Just send us an email message and we will be in touch in due course. Visit our dedicated web page here!

Obviously your personal details will be kept secure and not shared with anybody else.

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26 Jun

Fanfares

Written by

Onyx Brass with guest players ● Cond. by John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5221 (59.03)

This is a somewhat left-field release but recommendable nevertheless...

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23 Jun

Dancer at the Fair

Written by

(John Fortis)
Charles Shadwell and his Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

As well as developing and refining light orchestral music, Robert Farnon brought the genre to a whole new level. However we mustn’t forget it was actually David Rose who pioneered a totally original form of light music that even now in the 21st century remains unchanged and relevant. (It’s a similar situation to the standardization of the big band style in the 1950s that is still part of our culture)...

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18 Jun

Some Further Notes on Robert Farnon's "Seventh Heaven"

Written by

by William Zucker

I have read Bob Walton's article on this piece, and am induced to provide further notes and impressions on it, as I have long considered it one of Robert Farnon's best selections, judging from my own vantage point of serious music, as I feel that it exhibits a strong feeling of direction and purpose, most particularly in the latter portion of the piece...

Read Mr. Zucker's article here...

Mr Walton's article "Sevent Heaven" can be found here...

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11 Jun

Seventh Heaven

Written by

(Robert Farnon)
Analysed by Robert Walton

The 1940s and 1950s were unquestionably the Golden Era of Light Music. The 1940s was especially an exciting time for the genre because the greatest mood music orchestra of all time was conceived by Chappells of London. This was in response to an unprecedented demand for specialized production music for use on radio, television, films and particularly for cinema newsreels.....The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra reigned supreme.

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10 Jun

Stephen Hough's Dream Album

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Hyperion CDA68176 (80:03)

Cheshire-born Stephen Hough is high in the crowded international pantheon of outstanding concert pianists. His latest album is a real winner: - no fewer than 27 tracks of personal favourites, including his own transcriptions and variations on well-known classics...

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31 May

Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra May Concert 2018

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Another twelve months have sped by, and it was time for the 2018 May Bank Holiday concert performed by the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra...

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21 May

Laramie

Written by

(Cyril Mockridge)
Al Caiola’s Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

Of all movie music there’s nothing so instantly recognizable as a western theme. This is because many of the best stories of the Wild West captured the ultimate desire and desperation of the human spirit to journey into the unknown in search of a better life. This was the dream of millions of Americans.

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20 May

Report on the spring gathering of the London Light Music Meetings Group on Sunday 6th May 2018

Written by

It was a sunny and unseasonably warm day at the Lancaster Hall Hotel, as Light Music enthusiasts arrived for another feast of melodic music - now almost unobtainable on the BBC!

After opening - appropriately - with George Melachrino's Spring Morning, Tony Clayden welcomed the multitude, and read out a number of apologies for absence for those who were either unwell, or whose commitments during this Bank Holiday weekend rendered attendance impossible.

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13 May

Piccadilly Playboy

Written by

(George Elliott)
Analysed by Robert Walton

In the 1970s when British commercial radio became legal, George Elliott was Head of Productions at LBC (the London Broadcasting Company off Fleet Street). We first met in that capacity when I was a voice over artist. He was also a commentator but I had no idea he was a composer as well. Clearly a man of many talents.

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28 Apr

Rainbow’s End

Written by

(Leon Pober)
Lou Busch’s version analysed by Robert Walton

The hit parade has never exactly been littered with light orchestral pieces, but from time to time one appeared amongst a sea of vocal numbers. The most original and imitated in the 20th century was David Rose’s Holiday for Strings, his first disc to sell a million. Mantovani’s Charmaine, Leroy Anderson’s Syncopated Clock and Frank Chacksfield’s Limelight were three others to make the charts. Sometimes though, the B sides of million sellers deserved to be heard too...

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20 Apr

Percy Grainger - Wind Band Classics 2

Written by

Naxos 8.573680  Royal Norwegian Navy Band conducted by Bjarte Engeset.

Brief review here...

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18 Apr

Classic Movie Thrillers

Written by

This latest ‘thriller’ from The Halle – "Classic Movie Thrillers" -part of the Nottingham Classics concert series - was faultless as was the informative compeering from a very knowledgeable Petroc Trelawny who presents BBC Radio 3’s ‘Breakfast’.

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06 Apr

Polka Dots and Moonbeams

Written by

(Burke; Van Heusen)
Nelson Riddle’s arrangement analysed by Robert Walton

A Debussyian pug-nosed dream starts straight in with a short simmering shimmering vision of a country-dance. Then the strings play a magnificent symphonic-like surge in the whole-tone scale that completely overwhelms me.

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06 Apr

Light Music Matters

Written by

A new 12-part David Mellor-hosted series begins on Saturday 7th April. It is broadcast at 9 p.m. every Saturday evening.

Here's a link to the story:

http://www.classicfm.com/radio/shows-presenters/light-music-masters/

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26 Mar

With a Song in My Heart

Written by

(Rodgers, Hart)
Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

As a child I didn’t really take much notice of André Kostelanetz apart from the name. It was years later I discovered his orchestra at a New Zealand friend’s holiday cottage near Auckland.

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18 Mar

Look For A Star

Written by

(Tony Hatch)
Analysed by Robert Walton

I first heard Look For A Star in 1964 when I was a disc jockey (Bob Lee) on Radio Caroline...

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17 Mar

Journey to Mozart

Written by

Daniel Hope (violin) : Zurich Chamber Orchestra
DG 4798376 (69:21)

No apologies for recommending another Mozart release!

This one is an imaginative album from the personable Durban born (1973) English-Irish violinist who is also musical director of the first-rate orchestra, and recently signed a new contract taking him to 2022.

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01 Mar

Benny Anderssohn ● Piano

Written by

Deutsche Grammophon 479 8143

 

I am quite an ABBA fan but had no idea of how fine a pianist Benny Anderssohn is. This is a beautiful 21-track album of songs he wrote mainly with his lyricist Bjőrn Ulvaeus but also solo.

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17 Feb

The Film Scores and Original Orchestral Music of George Martin

Written by

The Berlin Music Ensemble conducted by Craig Leon
Atlas Réalisations ARCD008 (63.00)

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16 Feb

Mozart - Piano Concertos 25 & 27 - Review

Written by

MOZART Piano Concertos 25 & 27
Piotr Anderszewski, Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Warner Classic 9029572422

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16 Feb

Serenade and Divertimentos 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 - Review

Written by

LEO WEINER
Chandos CHAN 10959  
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Neeme Jarvi.

Serenade and Divertimentos 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

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16 Feb

Symphony No. 3; Sinfonietta; Serenade and Divertimento - review

Written by

DAG WIREN
Chandos CHSA 5194  
Iceland National Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Rumon Gamba.

Symphony No. 3; Sinfonietta; Serenade and Divertimento.

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12 Feb

Once Upon A Dream

Written by

(Bruce Campbell)
Analysed by Robert Walton

I can’t believe I have only analysed one Campbell composition. That was Cloudland for the 186th edition of JIM. Disgraceful! So it’s high time I rectified the situation and wrote another one. There’s no doubt Robert Farnon’s music had a huge influence on Campbell’s creations but at the same time over the years Campbell developed an instantly recognizable style. Like Farnon, he inherited the elements of good taste, mainstream modernity and above all quality.

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(Roemheld; Parish)
Analysed by Robert Walton

There are three songs I know with the English female name Ruby, popular from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th inspired by the gemstone. The name seems to be having a revival in Ireland at the moment.

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15 Jan

Radio 2 axes The Organist Entertains and Listen to the Band after 50 years

Written by

Radio 2 has axed its long-running shows playing organ and brass band music and given new slots to Jo Whiley and Cerys Matthews in a generational shift at Britain’s most listened-to station. The Organist Entertains, which has been on the network for 50 years, is being "rested" with veteran presenter Nigel Ogden retiring. Theatre organist Ogden, 63, has introduced recordings and live broadcasts of pipe and electronic organs, since 1980.

Nigel says: "I'd like to thank my ever loyal audience for their support and messages during the 38 years I've hosted The Organist Entertains. I've loved hearing from them and send them my very best wishes for the future. I’d also like to thank Radio 2 for giving me the opportunity to play the music I love each week - it has been a huge privilege."

Radio 2 has also axed Listen to the Band, its weekly showcase for brass band and military music, presented by 78 year-old conductor Frank Renton. The programme has existed in various forms on the BBC since the Second World War.

The yearly Young Brass Award will remain as a Friday Night Is Music Night special in April; whilst brass and organ music will be included in Friday Night is Music Nightweekly programmes throughout the year. Brass will continue to be heavily featured on a weekly basis in Clare Teal’s Sunday night show, which celebrates big band music.

Frank says: "My 23 years presenting Listen To The Band have been hugely enjoyable, especially playing so much of the music that I love. It has also been an absolute pleasure being part of the Radio 2 family, and I want to thank all those who have listened or contributed to the programme over the years. Of course the next thing on the agenda is the continued celebration of the talent of young British brass players when Ken Bruce and I present the final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award in April."

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10 Jan

Grieg: Piano Concert ● ‘Peer Gynt’

Written by

Lise Davidsen, Ann-Helen Moen, Victoria Nava (sopranos), Johannes Weisser (baritone), Håkon Høgerno (Hardanger fiddle). Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choirs, cond. Edward Gardner Chandos CHSA 5190 (83’12)

This is the real deal.

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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.