Wednesday, 5 April 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, April 2017)

Decca 478 6769 (40 CDs) / ****1/2

Listeners of a certain vintage (and their parents) will remember with fondness Decca Phase 4 long playing records from the 1960s and early 1970s, which prided on state of the art sound using then new-fangled stereophonic technology. 

This 40 album box-set relives free and easy sounds of that swinging era, when classical, jazz, swing, traditional and popular music found a happy confluence without dumbing down. 

Nine discs are devoted to Ronnie Aldrich and his Two Pianos. He performs on one piano but the parts are fed through into two speakers, a clever gimmick. For sonic spectaculars of that era, listen to Stanley Black (pseudonym of Solomon Schwartz) conducting the London Festival Orchestra in film scores and Jewish music.

For nostalgic value, the singing strings of Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra in the music of the Beatles, Burt Bacharach, Jerome Kern, Simon & Garfunkel truly have a special place. Ted Heath leads in big band arrangements of The Sound Of Music, Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey, while Edmundo Ros provides a Latin beat for five records. 

Vocal highlights include the booming voice of Ethel Merman and Wright & Forrest's musical Kismet (using melodies by Russian composer Alexander Borodin) accompanied by Mantovani's Orchestra. Finally, there are two discs of James Bond and spy movie themes from Roland Shaw and His Orchestra, which define the zeitgeist of an unforgettable age.     

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