High Heels: Favourite Light Classics

Iain Sutherland Concert Orchestra
Total playing time 78:45

This new CD is especially welcome because, unlike a few years ago, there has recently been an almost total absence of new Light Music releases, either of restored material which originally appeared on ’78s’, or indeed of more modern recordings.

The tracks were laid-down between the years 1983 — 88 and are therefore in high-quality stereo. They have been excellently re-mastered for Alto by our good friend Paul Arden-Taylor.

Almost all of the pieces here will be very familiar to those of us, including myself, for whom the radio was a constant companion in ‘the good old days’.

The ‘lead’ track is, naturally, High Heels, by Trevor Duncan. This was the composer’s first big success way back in the late 40s / early 50s, and I well remember it being very frequently played on the BBC Light Programme in those far-off days. I’ve always regarded it as being as a sort of ‘musical cousin’ to David Rose’s Holiday For Strings, which in fact appears later-on in the programme. Incidentally, a slight inaccuracy has crept in to Iain Sutherland’s comprehensive booklet notes: Trevor Duncan’s real name was in fact Leonard Charles Trebilco (although originally Trebilcock).

The next piece is another from about the same era, by a composer whose compositions also regularly graced the post-WW2 airwaves, Charles Williams. He seems to have had a particular fascination for writing music associated with transport [e.g. Model RailwayTrolleybus], but on this occasion we hear his Rhythm On Rails. Contrary to ‘received wisdom’, this was not in fact used to introduce the BBC’s Morning Music, although it was often performed on that programme.

Moving swiftly on, we have a very generous helping of seven titles from the pen of none other than Robert Joseph Farnon! Starting with Melody Fair, the set continues with Jumping BeanPeanut PolkaColditz March (TV theme), Derby DayPortrait Of A Flirt and finally A La Claire Fontaine. It is perhaps difficult to realise in this day and age that these pieces used to be an ever-present and wonderful accompaniment to our daily lives!

The aforementioned Holiday For Strings by David Rose was regarded as quite revolutionary when it was published in 1943 [due to its distinctive use of pizzicato and close harmony string writing] and once again it enjoyed a ubiquitous presence on radio broadcasts for many years. It is followed by a traditional Spanish piece, Sabor Flamenco, in an arrangement by Maestro Sutherland.

The Irish Suite by Leroy Anderson comprises the following movements:- The Irish WasherwomanThe Minstrel BoyThe Rakes o’MallowThe Wearing Of The GreenThe Last Rose Of Summer and finally The Girl I Left Behind Me. These are all traditional Irish tunes, the spirit of which has been faithfully captured by Anderson, notwithstanding that he was American-born of Swedish parents!

A complete change of mood brings us to Mambo d’Amore by Iain Sutherland himself, and then a further David Rose composition, Holiday For Trombones, almost certainly written as the sequel to Holiday for Strings.

Another work inspired by the Emerald Isle appears next, The Ring Of Kerry Suite by Peter Hope, (who is currently President of the Light Music Society). The three movements are entitled Jaunting CarLough Leane and finally Killorglin Fair, and I venture to suggest that this is probably the composer’s best-known opus.

The Wright/Forrest composition Pink Champagne is heard in a brilliant arrangement by Wally Stott (later known as Angela Morley), and the programme reaches a triumphant conclusion with Sapphires and Sables. This is yet another piece regularly heard on-air, as it was the signature-tune of its creator, Peter Yorke, who conducted his orchestra on numerous BBC radio broadcasts.

This new release is a most worthy companion to a total of four previous Alto CDs featuring the excellent Iain Sutherland Concert Orchestra. It is highly recommended for inclusion in every serious Light Music enthusiast’s collection.

© Tony Clayden, June 2024


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