Mantovani And His Orchestra – Latin Rendezvous (1963)

FrontCover1Annunzio Paolo Mantovani  (15 November 1905 – 29 March 1980), known as Mantovani, was an Anglo-Italian conductor, composer and light orchestra-styled entertainer with a cascading strings musical signature. The book British Hit Singles & Albums states that he was “Britain’s most successful album act before the Beatles…the first act to sell over one million stereo albums and [have] six albums simultaneously in the US Top 30 in 1959”.

Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy, into a musical family. His father, Bismarck, served as the concertmaster of La Scala opera house’s orchestra in Milan, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. The family moved to England in 1912, where young Annunzio studied at Trinity College of Music in London. After graduation, he formed his own orchestra, which played in and around Birmingham. He married Winifred Moss in 1934, and they had two children: Kenneth (born 12 July 1935) and Paula Irene (born 11 April 1939). By the time World War II broke out, his orchestra was one of the most popular British dance bands, both on BBC radio broadcasts and in live performances.

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He was also musical director for a large number of musicals and other plays, including Noël Coward’s Pacific 1860 (1946) and Vivian Ellis’s musical setting of J. B. Fagan’s And So to Bed (1951).[4] After the war, he concentrated on recording, and eventually gave up live performance altogether. He worked with arranger and composer Ronald “Ronnie” Binge, who developed the “cascading strings” effect (also known as the “Mantovani sound”).[5] His records were regularly used for demonstration purposes in stores selling hi-fi stereo equipment, as they were produced and arranged for stereo reproduction. He became the first person to sell a million stereophonic records. In 1952, Binge ceased to arrange for Mantovani but the distinctive sound of the orchestra remained.

Mantovani recorded for Decca until the mid-1950s, and then for London Records. He recorded in excess of 50 albums on that label, many of which were Top 40 hits. His single tracks included “The Song from Moulin Rouge”, which reached Number One in the UK Singles Chart in 1953;[2] “Cara Mia” (with him and his orchestra backing David Whitfield) in 1954; “Around the World” in 1957; and “Main Theme from Exodus (Ari’s Theme)” in 1960. In the United States, between 1955 and 1972, he released more than 40 albums with 27 reaching the “Top 40”, and 11 in the “Top Ten”. His biggest success came with the album Film Encores, which attained Number One in 1957.

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Similarly, Mantovani Plays Music From ‘Exodus’ and Other Great Themes made it to the Top Ten in 1961, with over one million albums sold.

In 1958, Mantovani and his family bought a holiday home in Bournemouth in Durley Chine Road, and then in 1961 acquired a new property in Burton Road (now part of Poole). He moved, finally, to a new home in Martello Road in Poole.

Mantovani starred in his own syndicated television series, Mantovani, which was produced in England and which aired in the United States in 1959. Thirty-nine episodes were filmed.[7] Mantovani made his last recordings in the mid-1970s.

He died at a care home in Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent. His funeral was held at the Kent and Sussex Crematorium and Cemetery on 8 April 1980.

Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (1970)

The cascading strings technique developed by Binge became Mantovani’s hallmark in such hits arranged by Binge as “Charmaine”. Binge developed this technique to replicate the echo experienced in venues such as cathedrals and he achieved this goal through arranging skill alone.

Author Joseph Lanza describes Mantovani’s string arrangements as the most “rich and mellifluous” of the emerging light music style during the early 1950s. He stated that Mantovani was a leader in the use of new studio technologies to “create sound tapestries with innumerable strings”, and that “the sustained hum of Mantovani’s reverberated violins produced a sonic vaporizer foreshadowing the synthesizer harmonics of space music.” His style survived through an ever-changing variety of musical styles prompting Variety to call him “the biggest musical phenomenon of the twentieth century”.

From 1961 to 1971 David McCallum Sr was leader of Mantovani’s orchestra. At this time, his son David McCallum Jr was at the height of his fame, prompting Mantovani to introduce his leader to audiences with the quip, “We can afford the father but not the son!”

Mantovani is referred to by name in The Kinks song “Prince of the Punks”. He also had a big influence on Brian May, Queen guitarist.

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He is also mentioned in the song “Paradise Place” by Siouxsie and the Banshees and in the song “Nainen tanssii tangoa” by the Finnish rock band CMX.

During his lifetime, Mantovani did not always get respect from his fellow musicians. When George Martin first suggested overdubbing Paul McCartney’s recording of Yesterday with strings, McCartney’s initial reaction, according to Martin, was that he didn’t want it sounding like Mantovani. Martin therefore used a more classical sound, employing a string quartet.

Much of his catalogue has reappeared on CD. There are also many compilations. A large number of CDs are available containing unauthorised recordings, billed as Mantovani or Mantovani Orchestra, for example the CD titled “The Mantovani Orchestra” released in 1997 contained a track from the 1980s Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats”, which would have required posthumous conducting on the part of Mantovani. There have also been CDs released under the Mantovani name of recordings made by others while Mantovani was still alive.

Following Mantovani’s death in 1980, the Mantovani Estate continues to authorise numerous concerts worldwide and recordings using original and newly commissioned arrangements. (by wikipedia)

And here is one of his countless albums … I guess he was a music maniac like James Last-

Enjoy the beautiful sound of Mantovani  & his Orchestra !

Linernotes

Personnel:
Mantovani And His Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. Malaguena (Lecuona/Banks/Hansen) 3.52
02. Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps (Farres/Davis) 2.41
03. Be Mine Tonight (Lara/Skylar) 3.16
04. Cielito Linda (Santos) 1.54
05. La Paloma (Yradier) 2.47
06. Siboney (Morse/Lecuona) 3.20
07. A Garden In Granada (Baer/Vasilescu/Lewis) 3.40
08. Perfidia (Tonight) (Dominguez/Leeds) 2.59
09. Andalucia (The Breeze And I) (Stillman/Lecuona) 2.33
10. La Golondrina (Serradell) 3.51
11. Maria Elena (Barcelata/Russell) 2.44
12. España (Chabrier) 2.36

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Sergei Prokofiev – Peter And The Wolf (Herbert von Karajan – narrated by Peter Ustinov) (1959)

FrontCover1Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67, a ‘symphonic fairy tale for children’, is a musical composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. The narrator tells a children’s story, while the orchestra illustrates it. It is Prokofiev’s most frequently performed work, and one of the most frequently performed works in the entire classical repertoire. It has been recorded many times.

In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev was commissioned by Natalya Sats, the director of the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow, to write a musical symphony for children. Sats and Prokofiev had become acquainted after he visited her theatre with his sons several times. The intent was to introduce children to the individual instruments of the orchestra. The first draft of the libretto was about a Young Pioneer (the Soviet version of a Boy Scout) called Peter who rights a wrong by challenging an adult. (This was a common theme in propaganda aimed at children in the USSR at the time.) However, Prokofiev was dissatisfied with the rhyming text produced by Antonina Sakonskaya, a then popular children’s author. Prokofiev wrote a new version where Peter captures a wolf. As well as promoting desired Pioneer virtues such as vigilance, bravery and resourcefulness, the plot illustrates Soviet themes such as the stubbornness of the un-Bolshevik older generation (the grandfather) and the triumph of Man (Peter) taming Nature (the wolf).

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Prokofiev produced a version for the piano in under a week, finishing it on April 15. The orchestration was finished on April 24. The work debuted at a children’s concert in the main hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow Philharmonic on 2 May 1936. However, Sats was ill and the substitute narrator inexperienced, and the performance failed to attract much attention.[1][3][4][5] Later that month a much more successful performance with Sats narrating was given at the Moscow Pioneers Palace. The American premiere took place in March 1938, with Prokofiev himself conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Boston with Richard Hale narrating. By that time Sats was serving a sentence in the gulag, where she was sent after her lover Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky was shot in June 1937.

Peter, a Young Pioneer, lives at his grandfather’s home in a forest clearing. One day, Peter goes out into the clearing, leaving the garden gate open, and the duck that lives in the yard takes the opportunity to go swimming in a pond nearby. The duck starts arguing with a little bird (“What kind of bird are you if you can’t fly?” – “What kind of bird are you if you can’t swim?”). Peter’s pet cat stalks them quietly, and the bird—warned by Peter—flies to safety in a tall tree while the duck swims to safety in the middle of the pond.

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Peter’s grandfather scolds him for being outside in the meadow alone (“Suppose a wolf came out of the forest?”), and, when he defies him, saying: “Boys like me are not afraid of wolves”, his grandfather takes him back into the house and locks the gate. Soon afterwards “a big, grey wolf” does indeed come out of the forest. The cat quickly climbs into a tree, but the duck, who has jumped out of the pond, is chased, overtaken, and swallowed by the wolf.

IllustrationPeter fetches a rope and climbs over the garden wall into the tree. He asks the bird to fly around the wolf’s head to distract it, while he lowers a noose and catches the wolf by its tail. The wolf struggles to get free, but Peter ties the rope to the tree and the noose only gets tighter.

Some hunters, who have been tracking the wolf, come out of the forest ready to shoot, but Peter gets them to help him take the wolf to a zoo in a victory parade (the piece was first performed for an audience of Young Pioneers during May Day celebrations) that includes himself, the bird, the hunters leading the wolf, the cat, and grumpy grumbling Grandfather (“What if Peter hadn’t caught the wolf? What then?”)

In the story’s ending, the listener is told: “If you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the duck quacking inside the wolf’s belly, because the wolf in his hurry had swallowed her alive.”
Performance directions

Prokofiev produced detailed performance notes in both English and Russian for Peter and the Wolf. According to the English version:

Each character of this tale is represented by a corresponding instrument in the orchestra: the bird by a flute, the duck by an oboe, the cat by a clarinet playing staccato in a low register, the grandfather by a bassoon, the wolf by three horns, Peter by the string quartet, the shooting of the hunters by the kettle drums and bass drum. Before an orchestral performance it is desirable to show these instruments to the children and to play on them the corresponding leitmotivs. Thereby, the children learn to distinguish the sonorities of the instruments during the performance of this tale. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a nive version with the great Peter Ustinov as narrator and Herbert von Karajan as the conductor of The Philharmonia Orchestra.

What a nicy musical fairy tale !

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Personnel:
Peter Ustinov (narrator)
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The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan

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Tracklist:
01. Peter And The Wolf (Prokofiev) (Part 1) 14.23
02. Peter And The Wolf (Prokofiev) (Part 2) 14.34
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03. Toy Symphony (Haydn) 11.01

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