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Manhattan Playboys - 20 American Light Classics
Erich KORNGOLD Overture: Captain Blood [2:08]
Robert FARNON Manhattan Playboy [2:52]
Leroy ANDERSON Forgotten Dreams [2:38]
Cy COLEMAN arr Iain SUTHERLAND I’m a Brass Band [2:19]
Morton GOULD Pavanne [3:18]
Jerome KERN Folks Who Live on the Hill [4:08]
Trad/Peter HOPE Marching Thro’ Georgia [4:22]
Cole PORTER arr Reg TILSLEY Night and Day [4:19]
Richard RODGERS Song Of The High Seas [3:06]
Jerry HERMAN Overture: Mack & Mabel [5:42]
George GERSHWIN Walking the Dog [3:06]
David ROSE Tiny Ballerina (who danced in the key of C [3:17]
Trad/Peter HOPE Kentucky Love Song (Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair) [3:57]
Victor HERBERT March of the Toys [3:48]
Dave GRUSIN On Golden Pond [4:56]
Richard RODGERS Carousel Waltz [5:50]
Leroy ANDERSON Trumpeter’s Lullaby [2:51]
Morton GOULD American Salute [4:37]
Milt RASKIN & Robert FARNON How Beautiful is Night [3:32]
Leonard BERNSTEIN arr. PERESS Overture: West Side Story [5:08]
Concert Orchestra/Iain Sutherland
rec. 1983-88. ADD. Stereo
ALTO ALC 1206 [77:30]

This can be considered a companion to Iain Sutherland’s other Alto CD of light music: The Merrymakers – British Light Classics (review). These sometimes unfamiliar tracks also shimmy up close to another Sutherland collection, In London Town which can also be had on SOMM (review).The latter also included some Korngold – a composer whose miniature ‘titles’ overture to Captain Blood launches this collection with plenty of slash and rattle and a momentary hint of congestion.
That doyen of light music, Robert Farnon gives us a creamily smooth and up-tempo swoon in the shape of Manhattan Playboy – feel-good stuff. Leroy Anderson’s Forgotten Dreams delicately traces in a most beautiful outline – pastel shades painted in tears. Coleman’s I’m a Brass Band is raw, uproarious, brash and a bit crass, I suppose. Irresistible. Gould’s oddly-spelt Pavanne is nocturnal, neon-lonely and jazzy with the odd hint of Bolero while Kern’s Folks Who Live on the Hill is all twinkling diamonds and a sentimental bow-wave. There are no holds barred in Peter Hope’s arrangement of Marching Thro’ Georgia. While Cole Porter’s Night and Day squeezes out every last drop of cheek-to-cheek smooch and Semprini cascades. I recall watching Victory at Sea as a child on BBC1 back in the 1960s. The music was part of the magical pull of the series. It was written by Richard Rodgers and in this case we hear the marine wash and salt-soaked drama of Song Of The High Seas, indebted as it is to every other musical sea picture, including Debussy’s La Mer.
Jerry Herman’s Overture to the musical Mack & Mabel is coarse and OTT so brace yourself. As with all the other tracks Sutherland does not hold back and one can see what Sondheim was fondly caricaturing in his Follies and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Circus. Gershwin’s Walking the Dog might as well be with pictures – every side-walk cliché is evoked and milked rotten. David Rose’s Tiny Ballerina exploits the genre in eye-brow deep string sound. Peter Hope again in Mantovani cascade mode in Kentucky Love Song (Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair) complete also with some fairly brutally extruded Delian dreaming. Herbert’s March of the Toys nicely combines a wink with a strut. Striding decades forward brings us to Grusin’s caramel soft focus On Golden Pond from the 1982 film - idyllic. Back to Richard Rodgers for the Carousel Waltz which is cleverly built up in a far from obvious way. We also return to Anderson’s Trumpeter’s Lullaby – an exercise in sentimental trumpet staccato.
Gould was for years the magus of the Boston Pops concerts alongside André Kostelanetz. His American Salute is a nice potpourri of familiar march material of the type also rejoiced in by Roy Harris. Farnon’s How Beautiful is Night is heard in the composer’s orchestral original score complete with those Delian overtones again. The music is almost certainly better known in the vocal version recorded by Sarah Vaughan. This one is sticky, with sideways glances towards Kismet. Finally there’s Bernstein’s swaggering and swaying overture to West Side Story playing with the great tunes to settle the audience into their seats. He even has the orchestra shouting out.
All in all this is sumptuous stuff and its pretty well documented too – though anonymously as far as I can see.

Rob Barnett