Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

British Light Classics II

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The vintage graphics included in the booklet with this release attest to its nostalgia value for British listeners; there's an old train timetable, some travel posters and ticket stubs, and a great poster of a smiling, rushing couple that reads, "Don't be late, catch the Tube." Even for Americans there may be a nostalgic reaction; the music here is little known on this side of the pond, but it's of the sort that used to introduce radio news and variety broadcasts. All these orchestral pieces are quite short, and most have overtones of the march, waltz, schmaltz, or film score. Several of the composers were conductors (Hamilton Harty, Albert Ketélbey, Sydney Baynes) who created curtain-raisers and encores for their own orchestras to use; the best-known composer of the bunch of 16 (no composer is represented more than once) for Americans may be Eric Coates. The members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra probably grew up hearing their parents play this music on the radio or record player, and they approach it with relaxed fondness. One might feel that this is music from good old days that weren't really so good, but craftsmanship is evident in both the music and the performances here. Those who have been enjoying immersion in old English films can prolong the mood by listening to this (Charles Williams' The Old Clockmaker, track 10, is especially cinematic), and it's likely to be a disc for which buyers find a variety of uses.

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