Notes and Editorial Reviews
Another great selection from Guild, full of the most delicious things. George French’s title piece, Highly Strung, is a wild scherzo in the manner of David Rose’s Holiday for Strings, with lots of swirling string movement and great support from the brass and winds. Jack Mason’s Pops Polka is a typical Boston rush and Steve Race’s Ring Ding has a touch of Latin about it. Very nice.
I am a big fan of Roger Roger, and it’s good to have his racy Paris Pullman here, perhaps not exactly highly strung but it does have a great string tune. David Rose’s compositions really do grow on you, and Gay Spirits is a delightful concoction which has some splendid pizzicato writing, not to mention a lovely violin solo. Bob Farnon’s Little Miss Molly has a Ravelian fairytale quality about it. It’s a delightful miniature with a prominent part for flute. Lovely. Zez Confrey, sans both kitten and keys, but armed with a xylophone delivers a good tune, with great orchestration - especially in the middle section for piano with a guitar or banjo in the background! Alex North is a much underrated composer and I welcome this excerpt from his music for The Wonderful Country - Americana at its very best. Charles Williams’s Toy Violin is a perfect pizzicato study. Fred Hartley’s Jack In The Box is a lovely piece of chamber music swing - of the kind sometimes offered by Alec Wilder.
Song of Lisbon is the kind of music you’d hear in a Mexican-set western of yesteryear, “we go to de cantina and drink wiz dee greengos”, and the cool sax of the late Johnny Dankworth graces Philip Green’s theme from Sapphire - a fine composition. Gaste’s Le Soir is a sleepy cor anglais and strings duet which is followed by a sterling Ronald Binge arrangement of Harry Warren’s (known, quite rightly, as ‘Mr Hollywood Musical’) Afraid To Dream, a beautiful song very well served by its arranger. The illustrious Clive Richardson, under a pseudonym, gives us a lovely string melody with the additional of a trumpet with felt mute. This is a lovely relaxed desert island thing.
OK, so I’ve gone to my favourites first, but can you blame me? If I didn’t it would be impossible to know where to start. For the rest there are pleasures aplenty. Schick’s Sheerline is made of the finest denier. Cry Of The Wild Goose is a bongo-driven flight, a fabulous Philip Green arrangement here. Cesana’s Whirlwind is a depiction of the wind, with romantic music in the middle, how strange this is; perhaps he had a film scene in mind. It was Cole Porter who introduced the world to the beguine and here Frank Chacksfield offers a rather lovely one, with a haunting theme, not to be forgotten in a hurry. Debussy wrote a Marche écossaise and to match it, another Frenchman crosses Hadrian’s Wall and gives us a Gigue Ecossaise, which is great fun. Ron Goodwin’s All Strung Up has the feel of the coffee bar to it, but no Teds are in evidence. Perpetual Notion, a nice title, is reminiscent of Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On The Town.
For the rest, the most important is probably Adolph Deutsch’s underscore from Some Like It Hot, a real slice of Hollywood, but with a most unsatisfactory, inconclusive ending. But that’s the trouble with underscore. It comes and suddenly it’s gone!
Guild has done it again, compiling a fascinating collection of pieces in excellent sound, and with helpful, but not exhaustive, notes. I have a list of pieces I’d love them to do and my mouth waters at what delights they will come up with next. As ever, I am all anticipation. This is an invaluable series.
-- Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International