CD REVIEW – THE MGM SOUND & HOLLYWOOD MELODIES
The Conrad Salinger Orchestra
Georgie Stoll conducts the MGM Studio Orchestra
Sepia 1333 (73:32)

Congratulations to Sepia’s Richard Tay for giving us a rarity these days: a release very much "our kind of music", which – up to its sad demise almost five years ago – would have been one of many similar releases reviewed in the Robert Farnon Society's printed Journal Into Melody.

The first 12 tracks are a Capitol Records hi-fidelity stereo album from 1957 with the title 'A Lovely Afternoon' comprising personal favourites of that supreme arranger Conrad Salinger, whose orchestra is fronted by Buddy Bregman, himself another well-regarded arranger and conductor. Among the titles are The Continental, That’s Entertainment, Singin’ In The Rain, The Trolley Song, and A Wonderful Guy.

Salinger has to his credit the orchestrations for nine productions on Broadway from 1931 to 1938 and over 75 motion pictures from 1931 to 1962 including most of the musicals MGM is famous for. (Our own John Wilson has, of course, been responsible for reconstructing Salinger's original orchestrations, so shamefully sent to landfill by the movie studio). The orchestra consists of forty musicians with a full string section.

Recorded ten years earlier, 'Hollywood Melodies' features the famed MGM Studio Orchestra conducted by another name to conjure with, Georgie Stoll, a former boy violin prodigy who joined the MGM music department in 1937 and was active with them until the 1960s. The eight tracks include You Were Meant For Me, September In The Rain, Pagan Love Song, Louise, and Over The Rainbow.

The disc is completed by two choice bonus tracks from 'Theme Music From Great Motion Pictures' (1947): Undercurrent, based on melodies from Brahms' Third Symphony, and Aaron Copland's Fantasia Mexicana by Al Goodman and his Orchestra. Al directed over 150 first-night performances and became one of the most popular conductors on Broadway’s Great White Way.

The original LP notes have been retained and the CD re-mastering has been well done by Robin Cherry. From beginning to end this album celebrating Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 'Golden Age' is one to cherish.

Peter Burt 2018

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