quinta-feira, 3 de janeiro de 2013

Mantovani and His Orchestra - Song Hits From Theatreland

  1. If I Loved You (from "Carousel")
  2. Wunderbar (from "Kiss Me Kate")
  3. I've Never Been In Love Before (from "Guys and Dolls")
  4. Bewitched (from "Pal Joey")
  5. I Talk To the Trees (from "Paint Your Wagon")
  6. Some Enchanted Evening (from "South Pacific")
  7. Out of My Dreams (from "Oklahoma")
  8. Stranger in Paradise (from "Kismet")
  9. C'est Magnifique (from "Can Can")
  10. Almost Like Being in Love (from "Brigadoon")
  11. Hello, Young Lovers (from "The King and I")
  12. They Say It's Wonderful (from "Annie Get Your Gun")
Song Hits From Theatreland

The shows here represented are all of them American and we in England have to admit, however jealous we may be, that the years since the war certainly have been a flourishing period for the American musical. Some people would like to believe that these shows succeed simply because they are staged on a large scale. This may be partly tue but there is much more to the story than that. What is proved by this record is that these musicals have produced a large number of truly memorable tunes.

From this selection emerges clearly the pattern of our musical entertainment of the past few years and, we hope, for some years to come. Certain composers stand out, or in some cases a team of composer and lyric writer. These men seem to have the knack of finding the most direct path to our hearts with their sentimental numbers and of producing one show after another which is immediately a sure-fire hit. At the top of the list come Rodgers and Hammerstein here represented by If I Loved You ("Carousel"); Some Enchanted Evening ("South Pacific"), Out Of My Dreams ("Oklahoma") and Hello, Young Lovers ("The King And I"), while Bewitched hearks back to the old Rodgers and Hart days.

Cole Porter scores a sure double with Wunderbar from Kiss Me Kate and C'est Magnifique from "Can Can" and from among Irving Berlin's many successes comes They Say It's Wonderful ("Annie Get Your Gun"). Though Frank Loesser is so far known for only one complete show ("Guys and Dolls") he introduced himself to us many years ago with such top-line popular songs as Two Sleepy People and Baby, It's Cold Outside. Meanwhile Loewe and Lerner already have two shows to their credit in "Brigadoon" and "Paint Your Wagon" and Wright and Forrest, introduced here by Stranger in Paradise from "Kismet", are another team from whom we shall hope to hear again soon.

Richness of orchestration, romance in melody are the two leading characteristics of the American musicals of this era and so it is only natural that the tunes which stand out from them should lend themselves particularly to the specialised treatment of Mantovani. Under his baton they give out new qualities of sweetness and melody and in these recordings they will attain a new permanence of fame.

Perfectionism is and always has been the keynote of Mantovani's musical career. It is the kind of perfectionism that means painstaking work for the artist, ease and enjoyment for the listener. Like so many of those who have risen to the very heights of his profession, Mantovani has music in his blood. His father had played in orchestras under Mascagni and Toscanini and became so well known not only in his native Italy, where he served as Professor at two conservatoires, but throughout the musical world of Europe, that he was created a Cavalliere by the King of Portugal.

It was a happy trick of fate that brought the Mantovani family to this country. The elder Mantovani was playing in London at the outbreak of the first world war and, with conditions difficult for return to Italy, he decided to make his home in England. Our own Mantovani, in spite of being as it were an artistocrat of music was both ready and eager to undergo the most thorough and exacting musical training. His studies of the violin began at the age of fourteen. The Professor? Why, none other than his own father, of course. As an incentive to study his father offered him a Testori violin, the gift of a Russian princess, as soon as he could faultlessly perform a certain difficult concerto. This priceless instrument is today one of Mantovani's most prized possessions. A proud moment for the family came early in his career when, as solo-violinist, he played Saint-Saens' B minor concerto at the Queen's Hall, London.

The advent of broadcasting on a popular scale made Mantovani's name well known to a vast and appreciative audience throughout Britain. Starting in the early thirties the lunch-time broadcasts of his Tipica Orchestra became almost as much a part of our lives as the familiar chimes of Big Ben. Later a long-term engagement with the Gaumont-British cinema circuit gave him experience which he values highly in the stage presentation of an orchestra.

But even after this time Mantovani was still not too proud to cross over the footlights and gain further experience as a conductor in the orchestra pit of a theatre and he served with distinction as musical director to Noel Coward for the shows "Ace of Clubs", "Pacific 1860" and "Sigh No More". All this time he had been recording steadily for London and many were the listeners who had followed him regularly through the years. But it was the formation of his new orchestra in 1951 that created one of the greatest phenomena in the record-making world.

One of the memories that mark 1951 for us will always be the sound of an old song played in a new style. The song was Charmaine and it caused everybody to prick up their ears as its cascade of pure music came pouring out of almost every gramophone in England and from every juke box in America. The effect that Mantovani produced with this arrangement was no mere gimmick and it owed its existence to no tricks of recording. It had been produced by him with infinite care from an orchestra of forty people with a predominance, naturally, of violins. Mantovani's inspired direction of this instrument in the hands of chosen skilled musicians has brought a new experience in sound to millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic. The new arrangements on this record should extend that almost other-worldy sense of enjoyment to many millions more.

(Basil Saunders from the original liner notes)

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