(The) Golden Age of Light Music - Light Music While You Work
CD series have a habit of starting brightly and soon fading. That the Guild Light Music series is on the verge of 30 titles shows that buyers exist for digital restorations of the 78rpm recordings of short orchestral pieces that proliferated in the 1940s and early '50s. At the same time, these latest two issues demonstrate that, even within that relatively narrow field, there's a diversity of style that will make some collections appeal to particular individuals more than others.
Of the two I find myself much less taken by the “Beyond the Blue Horizon” collection. Opening with that Richard Whiting number, it collects together pieces with a colour in the title - blue being by far the most popular. It's an appealing concept. At the same time, it specialises in a post-Second World War light orchestral sound that is not altogether to my personal taste, with large string compliments whooping and swooping, aided and abetted by harp glissandi and other instrumental flights of fancy that seem to have little regard for the basic melody and harmony.
Much more to my liking is the classically balanced orchestral sound on the “Light Music While You Work” volume. With transfers from Decca 78s of the 1940s, this offers a happy souvenir of that radio show and the upbeat, high-spirited and tuneful pieces in which it specialised. They include continental European classics such as Wilhelm Aletter's Rendezvous, Ruperto Chapí's Puñao de Rosas, Paul Lincke's Kwang Hsü and Alberto Pestalozza's Ciribiribin that are all too seldom heard these days.
Among British contributions, Felix Godin's Valse Septembre has at least made it to CD; but I'm delighted to find contributions by Percy Fletcher, Frederic Curzon and, most particularly, Allan Macbeth (1856-1910), famous in his time for Forget-Me-Not and Heart's Ease but represented here by his Gaily Through the World.
Others will, of course, prefer the typically post-war sound of Melachrino, Kostelanetz et al in the “Beyond the Blue Horizon” CD. Either way, these collections are much to be welcomed, and the quality of Alan Bunting's sound restoration is, as ever, greatly to be admired.