CLASSIC ANGELA MORLEY SCORES
Lights and Sweet Music"
JOHN WILSON CONDUCTS THE ROMANTIC ARRANGEMENTS OF ANGELA
David Ades reports on a very special new release
Dateline: July 2001; Abbey Road, Studios, London
Occasions like this don’t happen very often. It is rare
enough for a light orchestra to make a new recording, and
rarer still for an arranger to be given the opportunity
of hearing old scores being dusted off once again.
Major record companies wouldn’t consider such a project,
unless sales in the hundreds of thousands were assured.
Fortunately, in Britain we possess a thriving independent
sector, and in Michael Dutton we have a producer who is
prepared to invest thousands of pounds in something which
is dear to the hearts of all of us who believe that quality
popular music is still vitally important.
Spare a thought also for the conductor with the responsibility
of bringing to life these timeless creations, with the writer
sitting barely five feet away from his podium! Lesser mortals
could find such a situation intimidating, to say the least.
Happily John Wilson appreciated the helpful co-operation
he received from Angela Morley; her very few suggestions
were well received, and the mutual admiration each had for
the other created a harmonious working environment which
permeated every note performed by John’s youthful players.
Angela Morley was positively glowing during these sessions.
She sat entranced in EMI’s Studio Two as John Wilson took
his fine orchestra through each of these timeless scores,
extracting all of the intricate nuances which make a Morley
arrangement so special.
Only occasionally did she climb the steep stairs up to
the control room for a brief chat with sound engineer Mike
Dutton, and producer Michael Ponder.
During a break, she talked to Journal Into Melody
expressing her delight that these scores are being revitalised
for a new audience.
"The arrangements that are being recorded for this
CD have all had a life in the past but, magically, thanks
to John Wilson, they now have a new existence. We’re doing
about nine arrangements from my days in the early 1960s
with Reader’s Digest, and the rest come from the 1970s when
I did a lot of conducting for the BBC Radio Orchestra. John
Wilson is super talented and a joy to work with; he loves
all of this kind of this music ... not only mine but Robert
Farnon and those lovely sounds of the MGM musicals in the
golden age, especially Conrad Salinger who I think we all
feel is the best there ever was in Hollywood. John is wrapped
up in this kind of music as well as having a wonderful symphonic
career - he conducts the Hallé and other orchestras.
This is a real treat for me.
"I’m not in the control room ... it’s so lovely to
sit in the studio and listen to these pieces played by this
new generation of new musicians who are all super players,
perhaps better than the old ones in many, many cases."
Full tracklisting details can be found at the end of
this feature. We list below the tunes recorded at the various
sessions, together with Angela’s own comments about some
Tuesday 24 July
APRIL IN PARIS
"I put the syncopated section into the middle of this
piece because it has a very slow tempo. I wrote something
which sounds extemporised, but it’s not."
WITH A SONG IN MY HEART
"I wrote this arrangement about 1960, and haven’t
heard it since. They played it most beautifully. When I
got the printed music and saw the verse I had the idea of
doing it as something sounding like a string quartet, postponing
the moment before going into the main tune."
SOFT LIGHTS AND SWEET MUSIC
"I did this for an album in England which was called
‘Christmas by the Fireside’ and issued in mono. In the USA
Warner Bros. put it out in stereo as ‘Happy Holiday’. I
have changed the arrangement just a little bit. Like some
of the others, I felt that it needed a little bit of modernising.
I’ve tried to make it atmospheric .. full of falling things!
I originally did have a sort of beguine rhythm going in
this piece, but I don’t feel that it is a very important
part of this arrangement."
I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS
"Years ago, for some reason or another, I really didn’t
know how to write an arrangement of this one. At a later
time of my life, in the 1970s, I found a way of doing it,
and started part of the arrangement. Then I finished it
in the 1970s for the BBC Radio Orchestra - I’ve re-written
partly for this recording."
TIME ON MY HANDS
" ... I love interweaving parts!"
SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES
"This was the first thing I did for Reader’s Digest
around 1960. Norman Luboff produced (who was a neighbour
of mine in London at the time), and we recorded in Walthamstow
Town Hall, with that wonderful acoustic."
WHERE OR WHEN
"Another one from 1960-61 Reader’s Digest period.
The arrangement is exactly the same as I did it 40 years
ago. It’s a lovely song, and I decided to let the harp play
the tune for the first time around, and then the celeste;
only later does it go to what you’d expect with the violins
and the woodwinds."
"I am particularly proud of an arrangement I did for
Rosemary Squires which, if anything, I prefer to this one.
Again, I haven’t tinkered with my original score."
A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE
"I wrote that for an album "London Pride"
brought out in England in mono (with a trombone solo by
Laddie Busby), but in the USA it was part of a series in
stereo which included Michel Legrand’s portrait of Paris.
I’ve changed my original score just a little bit."
Wednesday 25 July
NOBODY ELSE BUT ME
"I wrote this not very long ago for a violinist who
didn’t really care for it, so I thought ‘Right!’ I’ll take
this back and find someone who will play it most beautifully
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
To coincide with this new release, Richard Hindley has
written the following special tribute to Angela Morley exclusively
for ‘Journal Into Melody’.
A Personal Tribute by Richard Hindley
"She’s a very classy person and a great arranger, in the
same league as Riddle, May, Farnon, Salinger et al."
The quote is from maestro John Wilson. The venue is EMI’s
Abbey Road Studios and the description is of Angela Morley,
whose career and reputation continues to grow despite her
move a few years ago from the bustling city of Los Angeles
to a quiet outer suburb of Phoenix, Arizona.
It’s here that composer-conductor John Williams still contacts
her for help with orchestrations for the movies he scores;
Itzhak Perlman, guest soloist for this year’s Academy Awards
requests that she arrange a suite for the Ceremony; and
her own music room is the venue for the local Alliance Française
choir, which she’s formed to record a series of locally
Dotted around the house, in a seemingly hazardous fashion,
you happen to discover various citations and awards. Angela,
after all, is the recipient of no less than two Academy
Award nominations, as well as six Emmy Award nominations
and three Emmy Awards for arranging. No wonder then that
John Wilson, who is thrilled at the whole project, notices
how much respect his musicians have for her.
Two days in July are booked for this, the third CD recording
session by the John Wilson Orchestra, a Vocalion release
commissioned by Michael Dutton. This time the orchestra
consists of some 40 players, many of them representing the
cream of London’s talent. John has assembled a 40 piece
orchestra consisting of 24 strings, 5 woodwind, 4 trombones,
tuba, sax, trumpet, guitar, piano/celeste, drums, percussion
and harp. And John was justifiably proud to describe his
musicians: "The players I work with are all very, very carefully
chosen. I know most of the best players in London and who
is right for what style etc. The orchestra was extremely
glamorous. The string section particularly so - most of
the players are soloists or well-known chamber music players
or section principals. I suppose they are sympathetic to
the style. We have been playing together for 5 years and
they know what I want and they love doing it".
After months of research and preparation, John is ready
to cue his players for the first of 16 tracks from Angela’s
repertoire. The release of this CD has been eagerly awaited
by many RFS members simply because we’ll be hearing British
musicians playing new interpretations, some of which have
not appeared since their original airing on LP, or their
broadcast by the BBC Radio Orchestra. Angela’s name has
regularly appeared in members’ lists published by this magazine
of all time favourites for reissue, and it’s certainly been
a while since an entire album devoted to her orchestral
arrangements has appeared. So this new album will supplement
the re-issue of the soundtrack score for Watership Down,
the early stereo album Christmas by the Fireside,
The Symphonic Suite of the Music of Jerome Kern (a
Vocalion release conducted by Stanley Black, shared with
an Irving Berlin Suite by other arrangers), several tracks
on albums conducted by John Williams (notably the two Cinema
Serenade issues) and not forgetting her earlier work
on two Geraldo Tip Top Tunes albums.
Angela made sure she would be in London to attend this
recording session, and her arrival that morning must have
meant a lot to her. I asked how she felt about hearing her
scores, all of which would be performed for the first time
in years. "Studio 2 is full of memories for I recorded many
times with Geraldo’s Orchestra there between 1944 and 1948.
All those fairly recently released recordings of Tip Top
Tunes favourites, some of them with alto solos by me, were
recorded in that studio. At that time the recording booth
was in the studio, just to the right inside the door as
one enters and under the present stairs. The recording was
done on a wax blank. If you wanted to hear it back you could,
but you’d destroy it in the process! One could hardly hear
the bass & the drums. In the later 1950s, I conducted
my own arrangements accompanying Rosemary Squires, Max Geldray
and Mel Tormé, the latter recording his ‘Christmas
Song’ with me in 1961. That was, I believe, the last time
that I set foot in that studio. It was a little strange
but fun to return to EMI Abbey Road. Probably the strangest
thing was to be looking at an orchestra of 40 or so London
session musicians and to only recognise one face, Andy Vinter
It was the Geraldo Orchestra that permitted her to start
arranging, with encouragement and inspiration from another
of its contributors, Robert Farnon. Angela, who readily
acknowledges that she ‘fell under his spell’, also identifies
Bill Finnegan, chief arranger with the Glenn Miller Orchestra,
as another potent influence. Angela is well aware of the
advantage she was given: "The great bonus for a developing
arranger was that the band might be a swing band on Monday
and then augmented to symphonic size on Tuesday, while on
other days perhaps various combinations in-between, and
on occasion even adding a choir. Since I got to arrange
for all these combinations, was there ever a better arranging
academy? I doubt that anything like that exists today".
But another influence was to exert itself onto Angela’s
style, an influence that still continues into the present
day - her admiration of that French master of orchestration,
Maurice Ravel. What exactly is his appeal? "Firstly, his
very elegant melodic writing, then his polytonal harmonies
and lastly his exquisite orchestral sense".
So what can we look forward to in the John Wilson album?
"Of the arrangements that John recorded this summer, only
two of them had been originally written for Philips. These
are ‘Embraceable You’ which I originally arranged in 1954
for a Gershwin album of the same name, and ‘A Nightingale
Sang In Berkeley Square’ for ‘London Pride’ (or in USA ’Sounds
of the Cites: London’) from 1958. Philips allowed me to
have about the same number of musicians as John had and
the London album was recorded at Walthamstow Civic Hall.
’Snowfall’ from 1959 was scored for my second Christmas
album ‘Christmas by the Fireside’ issued by Pye. I didn’t
write any new arrangements for this CD but I did rewrite
parts of some of the arrangements. I’m always rewriting
my arrangements in my mind and if you let me near them,
I can’t resist the urge to ‘improve them’. When I look at
my ‘50s arrangements, I want to simplify them and remove
any ‘50s fads that seem dated now".
Most of the tracks for the new album were written for a
Reader’s Digest boxed set entitled 120 Greatest Hit Songs
from Broadway, written around 1960/61. "I suggested that
Norman Luboff produce the package and he did. The package
reached the final boxed set status, then Charles Gerhardt
(the American contracted producer) arrived in London announcing
that much of it was to be redone. ’Too much instrumental
music, not enough singers!’ I’m not sure how many, if any,
of my instrumental recordings ended up in the final package.
(There were 11 in the Australian release). I believe that
this summer we recorded eight of them. However, the instrumental
line-up of the Broadway arrangements was then adopted for
all the other arrangements on the CD. This meant rescoring
or adapting. Of the remaining pieces, ’Ruby’ dates from
about 1966 and then several arrangements from my 1970s broadcasts
conducting the BBC Radio Orchestra".
John Wilson helped Angela sift through a huge repertoire
of scores and they both feel they’ve selected the best ones.
I asked John if he’d had any difficulty in accessing written
copies of the scores: "Angela has kept all her scores (thank
God!) and some parts, too; the rest had to be copied; this
took an AGE!"
So we have to thank John’s dedication and commitment in
getting the project onto scoring paper before conducting
the music at Abbey Road, an unusual situation for Angela,
who for once relinquished the conductor’s baton: "I sat
just behind John’s podium all the time to just enjoy the
novel experience of being a fly on the wall at my own past
recordings. I also had many occasions to discuss the interpretations
with John and sometimes to correct wrong notes or wrong
For John Wilson the suggestions "made perfect sense and
were in line with what I thought myself. The whole thing
was recorded in 9 hours and was all very painless. We enjoy
a very convivial working relationship. The finished thing
sounds very posh. Angela said to me that this was the best
orchestra she had ever worked with, Hollywood included.
Made me feel very proud indeed".
With the session completed, John Wilson’s final commitment
was to supervise the mix-down of the tracks so that we can
all enjoy the final result when the album is released. Angela
spent some time on holiday in Europe before returning to
her home in Arizona where she continues to lead a busy life.
As for your correspondent on the other side of the world,
even before hearing the album, I’ll be getting first in
line to ask Mr Dutton: Sir, please can I have some more?
In researching this article, the author acknowledges
the help of John Wilson and Angela Morley who, in the early
part of her career, worked under the name of Wally Stott.
JOHN WILSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
playing the Romantic Arrangements of Angela Morley
"Soft Lights and Sweet Music"
1 APRIL IN PARIS, 2 SOFT LIGHTS AND SWEET MUSIC, 3 SMOKE
GETS IN YOUR EYES, 4 TIME ON MY HANDS,
5 A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE, 6 RUBY, 7 SNOWFALL,
8 WHERE OR WHEN, 9 EMILY,
10 EMBRACEABLE YOU, 11 I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS, 12
LONELY TOWN, 13 THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, 14 MY SHIP, 15
NOBODY ELSE BUT ME, 16 WITH A SONG IN MY HEART
Vocalion CDSA 6803
[ THE QUEEN'S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA
[ FRANK COMSTOCK ] [ LOONIS MCGLOHON
] [ JOHNNY HARRIS ]
[ BRIAN KAY INTERVIEWS ROBERT FARNON ] [ GAVIN
[ FARNON IN CONCERT 1967 ] [ SOUND
[ CONRAD SALINGER ] [ PAUL GEMIGNANI
] [ ANGELA MORLEY ]
[ JOHN WILSON AT ABBEY ROAD MAY 2003]
[ ALAN AND BLOOM CLARE, PETER SELLERS ]
[ GUILD LIGHT MUSIC ] [ CARRY
ON COMPOSING ]
[ MEMORIES OF LEVYS SOUND STUDIOS 1955-1961
[ SOUND COPYRIGHT: UNDER THREAT AGAIN? ]
[ ROBERT FARNON'S TRADE SECRET ]
[ ROBERT FARNON An Affectionate Tribute by MARC FORTIER
[ BOB FARNON HAS BEEN MY TEXTBOOK FOR STRING WRITING
[ AND THEN A VIOLIN BEGAN TO PLAY: ]
[ Bob Farnon: The Practical Joker recalled by MURRAY GINSBERG
[ THE LONGINES SYMPHONETTE RECORDINGS ]
[ THE FILM MUSIC OF CLIFTON PARKER ]
[ VAN ALEXANDER ]
[ PETE CANDOLI AND UAN RASEY IN CONVERSATION WITH FORREST
[ SIDNEY TORCH recalled by LEW WILLIAMS ]
[ PREMIERE OF ROBERT FARNON’S SYMPHONY No. 3 – THE ‘EDINBURGH’
[ ROBERT FARNON – GENIUS & HUMILITY by Dr. STANLEY SAUNDERS
[ ROBERT FARNON’S BIG BAND AND JAZZ MUSIC by PAUL
[ ADAM SAUNDERS – A YOUNG COMPOSER OF NOTE talking
to Peter Edwards ]
[ DANIEL SMITH, BASSOON VIRTUOSO interviewed by DAVID
[ BOB BAIN – the famous American Guitarist is interviewed
by Forrest Patten ]
[ DAVID ROSE – Enrique remembers the musical Englishman
[ GEORGE GERSHWIN – an affectionate tribute by Murray
[ Murray Ginsberg remembers a musical genius – Cole Porter
[ Neal Hefti is interviewed by Forrest Patten ]
[ Alan Bunting takes us behind the scenes of the Guild
‘Golden Age of Light Music’ CDs ]
[ Sound Copyright: the Threat to Light Music ]
[ The Great Ones Compared by Enrique Renard ]
[ BBC Television Newsreel
recalled by Peter Luck ]
[ Matty Malneck: a Profile by Arthur Jackson ]
[ British Children’s Authors and Light Music by Philip
[ Harrigan Logan pays tribute to Gene Lees ]
[ American Wind Symphony: The Gaels by Robert Farnon by
Dr. Stanley Saunders ]
[ Peter Appleyard – Wizard of the Vibraphone by Murray
[ BBC RADIO : TIME FOR A RADICAL RETHINK argues
David Ades ]
[ GOWERS REVIEW OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY – THE FINDINGS
[ SOUND COPYRIGHT – THE SAGA RUMBLES ON! ]
[ European Study rejects call for Sound Copyright period
[ Robert Farnon on ‘Desert Island Discs’ in Canada
[ PLAQUE IS UNVEILED IN HONOUR OF HAYDN WOOD ]
[ EDINBURGH LIGHT ORCHESTRA Celebrates its 30th Anniversary
[ ANDRE KOSTELANETZ – The Man who started it all by Enrique
[ GREAT DAYS OF HOLLYWOOD FILM MUSIC by Reg Otter
[ LEROY ANDERSON'S 'FIDDLE FADDLE' analysed by Robert
[ TOM WALSH – FOLLOWING IN GRANDPA’S FOOTSTEPS! ]
[ JOHN WILSON CELEBRATES THE GLORIOUS MGM MUSICALS AT
THE PROMS ]
[ ROBERT FARNON’S BASSOON CONCERTO RECEIVES ITS WORLD
PREMIERE IN MALVERN ]
[ TONY BENNETT AND ROBERT FARNON AT ‘THE TALK OF THE TOWN’
[ Eileen Farrell & Robert Farnon Spring 1990 London Sessions
[ Remembering Gene Lees – a Great Supporter of Robert
[ BBC Acknowledges that it has failed to maintain its
appeal to Older Listeners ]
[ THE ROBERT FARNON CD THAT NEVER WAS ]
[ JOHN WILSONs RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN PROM CONCERT
IN 2010 ]
[ 2010 IS THE CENTENARY OF THE BIRTH OF DAVID ROSE
[ TREVOR DUNCAN - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY THAT ONLY JUST STARTED
[ MORE ABOUT JAN BERENSKA ]
[ JOHN BARRY - TRIBUTE BY GARETH BRAMLEY ]
[ REMEMBERING GEORGE SHEARING ]
[ LIGHT FANTASTIC WAS SIMPLY FANTASTIC! ]
[ LIGHT MUSIC: A RECONSIDERATION – INTERVIEW WITH DAVID
[ THE ALAN DEAN STORY ]
[ JOHN BARRY MEMORIAL CONCERT 2011 ]
[ The Effects of the Extension of European Copyright in
Sound Recordings to 70 year ]
[ Hooray for Hollywood : John Wilson's 2011 BBC Prom
[ Immortal Songs of the Last Century ]
[ The Film and Television Music of David Rose ]
[ Daryl Griffith – A Talented Composer In The Best Traditions
Of Light Music ]
[ YOUVE HEARD THAT SONG BEFORE! ]
[ Learning to Like Light Music ]
[ MIKLOS ROZSA : CHOSEN PATHS OF A DOUBLE LIFE by Alan
[ In The Mood by Martin Moritz ]
[ Golders Green Hippodrome – 100 Not Out! By Anthony Wills
- a welcome new Chandos CD
Some Recollections by Angela Morley ]
[ Jumping Bean ] [ Keeping Track