Let me admit my unabashed sentimentality here and now by recommending this disc as one of the most attractive I've come across. This year or any year. (Naxos put this compilation together for release in 1996).
The music on the program is the best of what the British call "light music," trifles for orchestra. These little jewels include Eric Coates's "By the Sleepy Lagoon," "Knightsbridge March," and "Dam Busters March"; Albert Ketelbey's "Bells across the Meadows," "In a Monastery Garden," and "In a Persian Market"; Haydn Wood's "Sketch of a Dandy"; Ernest Tomlinson's "Little Serenade"; Ronald Binge's "Sailing By"; Arthur Benjamin's "Jamaican Rumba"; Edward White's "Puffin' Billy"; Billy Mayerl's "Marigold"; and a host of others, twenty tracks in all, over seventy-eight minutes' worth, wonderfully played, and generally well recorded.
Needless to say, it's all very easygoing and old fashioned by today's standards. Almost all of these pieces were composed early in the twentieth century, pre-Elizabeth II, when things were moving a lot slower than they do today. But that doesn't make the music any the less entertaining. For instance, those of you who have resisted my prodding over the years to invest in the wonderfully syrupy works of Albert Ketelbey can get your feet wet with little risk. The Coates and Ketelbey numbers are not so well characterized as they are on several of EMI's Classics for Pleasure discs, but they are close.
What's more, all the selections have good to excellent sound as well, taken as they are from a variety of albums on Naxos's former full-priced companion label, Marco Polo: "good" sound meaning smooth and warm; "excellent" meaning added clarity and depth of field.
Look, we can't spend all our time listening to serious classical, loud rock, and things blowing up on movie soundtracks. We can use our audio systems for some shamelessly mushy musical enjoyment, too, and here it is.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below: