The Golden Age Of Light Music: Highly Strung

Release Date: 6/8/2010
Label: Guild
Catalog Number: GLCD5166
Performer: Johnny Dankworth
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

Low Stock
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
Works on This Recording
1. Pops Polka, for orchestra by Jack Mason
Conductor: Arthur Fiedler
2. Ring Ding, for orchestra by Steve Race
Orchestra/Ensemble: Knightsbridge Strings
3. Highly Strung, for orchestra by George French
Conductor: Eric Cook
4. Song Of Lisbon (Sempre Que Lisboa Canta), for orchestra by Carlos Rocha
Conductor: Eric Jupp
5. Paris Pullman, for orchestra by Roger Roger
Conductor: Philippe Pages
6. Sapphire Theme, for orchestra by Philip Green
Performer: Johnny Dankworth (Saxophone)
Conductor: Philip Green
7. Le Soir (I'd Love To Fall Asleep), for orchestra by Louis Gasté
Conductor: Boris Sarbek
8. Afraid To Dream by Harry Revel
Conductor: Ronald Binge
9. Jack In The Box, for orchestra by Fred Hartley
Conductor: Fred Hartley
10. Gay Spirits, for orchestra by David Rose
Conductor: David Rose
11. Sheerline, for orchestra by Kurt Schick
Conductor: Curt Andersen
12. Little Miss Molly by Robert Farnon
Conductor: Robert Farnon
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1950s ; England
13. Cry of the Wild Goose by Terry Gilkyson
Conductor: Philip Green
14. Whirlwind, for orchestra by Otto Cesana
Conductor: Otto Cesana
15. Life In New York, for orchestra by Bernie Wayne
16. Sunshine Beguine, for orchestra by Frank Chacksfield
Conductor: Curt Andersen
17. Gigue Ecossaise (Scottish Jig), for orchestra by Gérard Calvi
Conductor: Gérard Calvi
18. Sentimental Magic, for orchestra by Paul Dubois
Conductor: Charles Williams
19. All Strung Up, for orchestra by Ron Goodwin
Conductor: Ron Goodwin
20. The Honeymoon Song, for orchestra by Mikis Theodorakis
Conductor: Geoff Love
Orchestra/Ensemble: Music of the Mountains
21. Limelight Waltz, for orchestra by Albert Marland
Conductor: Eric Cook
22. Toy Violin, for orchestra by Charles Williams
Conductor: Charles Williams
23. Blue Serenade by Frank Signorelli
Conductor: Axel Stordahl
24. Perpetual Notion by Percy Faith
Conductor: Percy Faith
25. Ziegfeld Follies of 1919: A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody by Irving Berlin
Conductor: Peter Yorke
Written: 1919 ;
26. Park Avenue Fantasy, for orchestra by Adolph Deutsch
Conductor: Adolph Deutsch
27. Stumbling by Zez Confrey
Conductor: Morton Gould
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1922 ; USA
28. Ma Belle, for orchestra by Rudolf Friml
Conductor: Geoff Love
29. The Wonderful Country: Theme by Alex North
Conductor: Mitchell Powell
Period: Modern
Written: 1959 ;
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