One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             



Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

The Golden Age of Light Music - Highdays and Holidays
Peter YORKE (1902-1966)

The Playful Pelican

Peter Yorke or Louis Voss and his orchestra [2:51]
Highdays and Holidays

Louis Voss and his Orchestra [2:54]

Buddha’s Festival of Love

The West End Celebrity Orchestra [3:08]
Albert KETÈLBEY (1875-1959)

Wedgwood Blue

Louis Voss Grand Orchestra [2:59]
In a Chinese Temple Garden

Louis Voss Grand Orchestra [3:07]
Gerhard WINKLER (1906-1977)

Neapolitan Serenade

Regent Classic Orchestra [2:40]

Wedding March in Midget Land

London Concert Orchestra [2:58]
Erich BÖRSCHEL (1907-1988)

Sparrows’ Concert – Intermezzo

Louis Voss Grand Orchestra [3:18]

April Day

London Concert Orchestra [2:44]
Frederick George CHAROSSIN (d.1976)

Busy Business

International Radio Orchestra [2:48]
Wilfred BURNS

The Ballet Dancer

Bosworth’s String Orchestra [3:12]
Philip GREEN (1910-1982)

Tequila – Paso Doble

Louis Voss Grand Orchestra [1.29]
George CROW

Wild Goose Chase

Louis Voss Grand Orchestra [3:11]
Charles WILLIAMS (1893-1978)

Cutty Sark

National Light Orchestra [3:00]
Serenade to a Mannequin

Bosworth’s String Orchestra [2:18]
Salute to Speedway

West End Celebrity Orchestra [3:00]
Henry CROUDSON (1898-1971)

Jack and Jill – miniature overture

Louis Voss and his Orchestra [2:59]
Claud VANE

Palace of Variety

National Light Orchestra [2:38]
Big Dipper

Louis Voss and his Orchestra [2:34]

Sportsman’s Luck

West End Celebrity Orchestra [2:52]
David HART

Sabre Jet

West End Celebrity Orchestra [2:51]
Haydn WOOD (1882-1959)

Sketch of a Dandy

Louis Voss and his Orchestra [2:57]
Art STRAUSS and Robert DALE
Flight of the Toy Balloon

National Light Orchestra [2:52]
Kenneth ESSEX

Travel Centre

West End Celebrity Orchestra [2:44]

Sleepy Grasshopper

Regent Classic Orchestra [2:53]
Gerald CROSSMAN (b.1920)

Typical Teenager

Louis Voss and his Orchestra [2:46]
Louis MORDISH (1908-1996)

Harlequin’s Flirtation

London Bijou Players [2:56]
Recorded between 1937 & 1953
GUILD GLCD 5115 [76.40]

If I were to be totally honest I would have to admit that this CD epitomises almost everything I like best about British Light Music. Now first of all I will admit that I do not necessarily admire all twenty-seven tracks on this disc with equal enthusiasm. But, as my late father used to say, taken in the round this is a splendid CD that makes me feel like packing my up my suitcase, and heading down to Manchester Victoria and boarding the express for the Fylde Coast, or maybe travelling from Waterloo to Swanage or perhaps going to Paddington to jump onto a train bound for Westward Ho!

There is a definite mythology existing behind much of this music. The key point is the sense that somehow things were much simpler - or was it more innocent - in those days. And perhaps this is true. As a boy, my ideal holiday was to spend as much time as possible on the beach. And if there were caves or castles or islands, then it was an adventure to the land of pirates and smugglers. We never complained about the cold, the rain or the sand in our sandwiches. Gamesboy had nothing on rounders, beach cricket and pebble skimming.

Older people could be relied on to sit on their deck chairs all day and not get in the way of the ‘Famous Five’ Adventures. Pots of tea were always available on the beach. There were bus trips and mystery tours, pier head and pier end orchestras. No-one was afraid to go to the Black & White Minstrel show and bathing beauty contests had not yet gained disapprobation.

And talking about the music ... there was a much wider selection available in those days. Of course 'pop' music could be heard at the lidos and the fairgrounds. But the Winter Gardens often catered to a different constituency. Here Ketèlby and his Wedgwood Blue and In a Chinese Temple Garden were more popular than The Dave Clark Five or Herman's Hermits.

To me the one persistent image that much of this music conjures up in my mind is travel. Most often I suppose it is on the train - usually bound for the seaside. But it does not preclude cross-channel ferries and perhaps even some flights to Italy and France or Majorca. And let’s not forget the good old fashioned bus.

It is not possible to describe all of these pieces in detail – and neither is it necessary. However I notice that these tracks form themselves into a number of topics and perhaps even sub-topics. Let me explain.

The general tenor of this work is ‘Highdays and Holidays.’ And of course many of the tunes fit this bill to the letter. No one would deny that Kenneth Essex’s wonderful Travel Centre does not evoke many holiday memories. Vacations can be at home or abroad. So perhaps Philip Green’s Tequila –Paso Doble is about a trip to Spain rather than a nightspot in Eastbourne? However, maybe the Neapolitan Serenade by Gerhard Winkler nods more to Margate than Sorrento?

The holiday theme is well explored with quite a few of the numbers being evocative of the kind of images outlined above. The title track by Peter Yorke could have been used in any one of a hundred travel films once seen at the cinema between the ‘B’ film and the Big Picture. Barry Tattenhall manages to give a perfect evocation of an April Day – the start of the holiday season. It brought to mind a few lovely days I had in the Isle of Purbeck at that time of the year when the sun shone and the sea was blue and the skies cloudless.

Wild Goose Chase is another one those works that seems so well known – in my mind it is really a travel piece. I can imagine a train – Southern Region Electric – heading south to Hastings or Eastbourne. The slower sections of this lovely piece perhaps depict the thoughts of two lovers as they walk along Brighton promenade on a hot summer’s day and listen to the surge of the sea. But soon we are back in the train, heading down the line at great speed. There are no red signals or points’ failures here!

Of course there are a number of ‘novelties’ here that we imagine would have been at home in the Winter Gardens or at the end of the pier. Peter Yorke’s attractive The Playful Pelican is given prime place on this CD and certainly gets the disc off to an exciting start. Busy Business by Frederick George Charrosin is one of those pieces that scurries along for all it’s worth. Siegfried Translauteur gives a jolly tune in the Wedding March in Midget Land – although I doubt if this title would be socially acceptable today. Henry Croudson celebrates the age old nursery rhyme in his Jack and Jill – a Miniature Overture. This surely deserves to be given a modern recording. Of course the Sleepy Grasshopper is a nature novelty which is actually a lot more sophisticated than the title would lead us to believe. It is also one of those tunes that we seem to know – but cannot quite pin down. The last piece on the disc is the rather trivial Harlequin’s Flirtation by Louis Mordish which is quite definitely a novelty.

London is well represented – Haydn Wood’s ever popular Sketch of a Dandy is typical of the man about town "just before your mother was born". I wonder how many people know that Wood was born in a West Yorkshire in a village called Slaithwaite?

Perhaps Charles Williams had a day trip to Greenwich in mind when he penned the Cutty Sark? The same composer’s Serenade to a Mannequin has a touch of sadness about it that is well balanced by Erich Börschel’s jazzy Sparrow’s Concert-Intermezzo.

Just quite where Buddha’s Festival of Love fits into this parade of holiday moods I am not quite sure. Neither can I quite convince myself of the place of Sabre Jet by David Hart. Although this is a great piece of music that can be listened to with pleasure apart from its title, it is perhaps strange to relate that Sabre Jets were flown by the Americans during the Korean War! On the flying theme we have a lovely essay about the Flight of a Toy Balloon. It is all too easy to imagine a little boy or girl holding father’s hand and watching with a mixture of delight and sadness as their precious toy drifts towards Regents Park from the top of Primrose Hill. Perhaps it will land just in time for the Chimps Tea Party at the Zoo. Yet there is a reflective quality about this tune that goes beyond the toy. It is one of my favourites.

Sport is featured on this disc as well. And that of course is all a part of the idea of ‘Highdays’ - the great sporting festivals of Britain. We have Charles Williams’ Salute to Speedway and the superb Sportsman’s Luck by John Bath.

Entertainment is another matter – I think that Big Dipper by Claud Vane is just about the best thing on this disc. Up and down and sharp right-hand bends - the miniature railway and the pedal boats way down below – it is all here. We have alluded to the Neapolitan Serenade but the Palace of Variety by Claud Vane describes the mood of anticipation before one of those 'end of the pier' revues that seem to have become a thing of the past. And The Ballet Dancer by Wilfred Burns is an attractive portrait of an equally attractive girl.

The penultimate piece is unusual – its title is Typical Teenager. Now folk of my generation (baby boomers) were told that the word teenager was not invented until the sixties! And here is proof that this was not true. This typical teenager as introduced to us by Gerald Crossman was out and about in 1952. Actually I understand the word was first used in 1942 during the dark days of World War Two!

The sound quality of this CD is excellent. The restoration has been superb. I am not usually partial to historical recordings, but there is nothing here that I could possibly object to.

I wholeheartedly recommend this packed CD to any listeners who wish to capture something of that lost age of innocence which probably never really existed except in our dreams. It is one of the very best in its field.

John France

see also review by Jonathan Woolf



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

August 2022

Louis Caix d'Hervelois

orchestral songs



String Quartets

la folia



July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I



Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.