The Golden Age of Light Music: Table for Two
rec. 1956-62 All Tracks Mono except ‘The Night was Made for Love’, ‘When the Music is Playing’, ‘Nevertheless (I'm In Love with You)’ (Stereo)
GUILD GLCD 5227 [74:20]
The melody that immediately caught my eye on this charming compilation of romantic tunes was Mel Young’s ‘Rainbow Room’. It seems to epitomise this latest CD in The Golden Age of Light Music series. The ‘Rainbow Room’ in New York — which I assume is the inspiration for this melody — was opened in 1934 and is located on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center. When I last visited it, we arrived at about five p.m., claimed a seat at a ‘table for two’ as near as possible to the window and ordered a bottle of wine and some sandwiches. Later, we finished with two Manhattans. Dusk was just beginning to settle and we watched the skyscrapers light up slowly. The cocktail pianist was working his way through a selection of ‘standards’ in a typically, melancholic style. It is an experience I shall not forget and this disc helps me to remember.
Virtually every track on this CD is a gem. Most bring some sort of captivating mental picture to the listener. Some are miniature musical portraits: others are delightful love songs. I consider them in no particular order.
Bruce Campbell provides the title track ‘Table for Two’ before Jerome Kern reminds the listener that ‘The Night was made for Love’. I guess that not every boy and girl can afford Walter Stott’s ‘Pearls on Velvet’, but sweeping strings and trumpet solo can bring the possibility just that little bit closer.
As an enthusiast of the John Gregson film The Captain’s Table, I warmed to Peter de Rose’s smoochy ‘The Grass Widow’s Lament’. See this enjoyable film to find out the allusion. A little more ‘up-tempo’ is the ‘Valse Magique’ by Oscar Denayer and Louis Logist. Leslie Coward’s name rings a bell: his ‘Daydreams’ is a lovely stand-alone miniature. Equally striking is Keith Papworth’s ‘Dreamtime’. Cyril Watters’ ‘Southern Twilight’ does not seem to reflect an American South: it has a definite Iberian feel to it, complete with castanets. This is definitely Majorca rather than ‘down Mexico way’.
Well-known songs and tunes trip over each other: Jerome Kern’s ‘Can’t help lovin’ dat man’ from Show Boat is a standard (listed as by George Gershwin, from Porgy and Bess in the liner notes and track listing), Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘The Nearness of You’ is, as Eric Morecambe used to say, ‘One of the Greats’.
I just loved Guenther Sonneborn ‘Honeymoon for Strings’: it is so typical of light music of the period. Lots of swishing strings, pizzicato and some nice exotic percussion. It is one of the most characteristically ‘light’ pieces of music on this CD. Werner Richard Heymann’s ‘When the Music is playing’ is vivacious and sounds just a little like the theme to Top of the Form (Marching Strings). ‘Serenatella’ by Dennis Stoll is a gorgeous tone-poem that evokes thoughts of a misty day by the sea. It is way too short.
Trevor Duncan’s contribution is the sweeping strings, muted brass and sulky piano of the impossibly romantic ‘Supper with Stephie’ - which is up to his usual high standard. Eddy Wall’s ‘Look at Me’ with its lugubrious trumpet solo, is an apposite title: I imagine that it would be very easy for one or other of the lovers to be distracted by the stunning views from the Rainbow Room as the darkness falls over the Hudson and East Rivers. They may need a gentle reminder of why they are there in the first place. Then Raymond Jones’ ‘Easy Talk’ may pass the time until the next dance but then he can whisper to his partner to the strains of Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby that ‘I love you so much’. Perhaps he or she will be surprised and suggest that ‘I never knew’ which is the title of Ted Fiorita and Gus Kahn’s romantically-charged song.
Not quite sure what a ‘Fashion Line’ is: I imagine it is a high-end clothing retailer. This lovely tune by Anthony Spurgin is seriously laid-back so I guess that money is no real object to these browsers.
The word ‘Debutante’ has gone out of fashion in these more enlightened times, however there are many who will remember ‘The Season’, when the ‘Debs’ came out and were presented to the Queen. The last occasion this happened in the UK was in 1958. George English in his happy reflection on this occasion has vitality and humour.
I guess that Cy Crawford’s ‘Love in the Clouds’ could be imagined in the Rainbow Room, or it could be ‘Flying Down to Rio’. It is certainly not sitting on the summit of Scafell Pike on a cold, wet and windy day. Peter Dennis’s ‘Fashion House’ could easily be in New York, yet the mood is altogether more English: Regent Street in London seems to be nearer the mark.
I have never heard of Kurt Schick – I wonder if it is a pseudonym – his ‘Gorgeous Girl’ seems to sum up much of the preceding selection, although there is definitely a touch of the mischievous in this particular musical portrait.
The final song on this ‘fab’ CD is a transcription of Harry Ruby’s ‘Nevertheless (I'm In Love with You)’ by William Hill-Bowen: it brings this lovely romantic CD to a quiet reflective conclusion.
This was the last collection of The Golden Age of Light Music engineered by David Ades before his death in February 2015. The 127 albums that he produced have been hugely interesting, inspiring, often fun, frequently romantic and always downright enjoyable. Fortunately, Alan Bunting and Guild have decided to continue the series in a ‘similar manner’.
The present CD is one of most enjoyable of the series that I have heard. This exploration of music for a romantic evening is a fitting compliment to Ades’ achievement.
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Bruce CAMPBELL Table for Two - Group-Forty Orchestra conducted by Laurie Johnson (1960) [3:12]
Jerome KERN (1885-1945) The Night was Made for Love - Melachrino Orchestra conducted by George Melachrino (1961) [3:35]
Walter STOTT (1924-2009) Pearls on Velvet - Telecast Orchestra conducted by Walter Stott (1961) [2:51]
Jerome KERN Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (from 'Showboat') - David Rose and his Orchestra (1957) [3:14]
Mel YOUNG (1920-1971) Rainbow Room - Mel Young and his Orchestra (1962) [3:12]
Dennis STOLL (1912-1987) Serenatella - Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon (1962) [2:56]
Ted FIORITO, Gus KAHN I Never Knew - Dolf Van Der Linden and his Orchestra (As ‘Daniel De Carlo’ on LP) (1958) [3:25]
Cyril WATTERS (1907-1984) Southern Twilight - Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Charles Williams (1962) [2:30]
Guenther SONNEBORN Honeymoon for Strings - Bosworth Orchestra (1962) [2:40]
Peter De ROSE, arr. Laurie JOHNSON (b.1927) Grass Widow's Lament - Ambrose Orchestra conducted by Laurie Johnson (1956) [3:03]
Oscar DENAYER, Louis LOGIST Valse Magique - The Brussels New Concert Orchestra (1960) [2:57]
Leslie COWARD Daydreams - Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Charles Williams (1962) [2:28]
Bert KALMAR (1884-1947), Harry RUBY (1895-1974) I Love You So Much - John Clegg and his Orchestra (1958) [2:57]
Anthony SPURGIN (1907-?) Fashion Line - The Connaught Light Orchestra (1960) [2:40]
Hoagy CARMICHAEL (1899-1981), Ned WASHINGTON (1901-1976) arr. Robert FARNON (1917-2005) The Nearness of You - Robert Farnon and his Orchestra (1957) [3:34]
Trevor DUNCAN (1924-2005) Supper with Stephie - Lansdowne Light Orchestra (1961) [2:41]
Werner Richard HEYMANN (1896-1961) When the Music is Playing - Cyril Stapleton and his Orchestra (1959) [3:12]
Raymond JONES Easy Talk - The Westway Studio Orchestra (1960) [2:21]
George ENGLISH (1912-1980) Debutante - The Sydney Light Concert Orchestra conducted by Hal Evans (1962) (2:51)
Eddy WALL Look at Me - The Westway Studio Orchestra (1960) [2:32]
Cy CRAWFORD Love in The Clouds - Symphonia Orchestra conducted by Curt Andersen (1960) [2:31]
Peter DENNIS (1921-1994) Fashion House - Symphonia Orchestra conducted by Curt Andersen (1960) [2:21]
Keith PAPWORTH Dreamtime - London Studio Orchestra conducted by Hugo De Groot (‘Hugh Granville’ on disc label) (1962) [3:16]
Kurt SCHICK Gorgeous Girl - Symphonia Orchestra conducted by Curt Andersen (1962) [2:40]
Bert KALMAR, Harry RUBY arr. William HILL-BOWEN (1918-1964) Nevertheless (I'm In Love with You) The Living Strings conducted by William Hill-Bowen (1960) [3:17]