John Lanchbery, the mostly ballet conductor who never met a harp or glockenspiel that he didn’t like irrespective of whether or not the composer wanted them, never made a finer record than this one. This is deluxe Ketèlbey, with chorus, organ, exotic percussion, vocal soloists, sound effects–the whole works. It sounds wonderfully decadent and nostalgic, the luscious strings of the Phiharmonia caressing those sumptuous melodies with a richness that (let’s face it) no salon orchestra of the time could match. There have been curiously few discs of Ketèlbey’s music released since this one. You would think that this stuff should be as popular as Johann Strauss, II and other composers ofRead more great “light” music, but much of it languishes in semi-obscurity still.
What are the highlights? Well, first there’s the faux-exoticism of In a Persian Market, with its male chorus singing nonsense words (sound sample); or try the chattering crowd scene from In a Chinese Temple Garden. Speaking of gardens, In a Monastery Garden contains what is probably Ketèlbey’s best known tune, greatly enhanced by some canned birdsong along the way. Leslie Pearson plays a delightful piano in The Clock and the Dresden Figures, and the tenor solo at the heart of In the Mystic Land of Egypt has to be heard to be believed. It’s splendidly crooned here by Vernon Midgley. Great sonics of almost Phase-4 like succulence do the composer proud. You won’t want to listen to this every day, but when you’re in the mood it’s irresistible.
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