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CD reviews

Beguine and Bugatti Step

Reviewed by Tony Clayden for

It seems hardly possible that the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra was formed as long ago as 1995. During these twenty years, it has admirably occupied a distinctive niche in the world of Light Music and its popular annual London concerts continue to attract a loyal band of regular supporters. 

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Happy Frog and Hot Canary

Reviewed by John Sheppard of Musicweb-international

The Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra as heard on this disc consists of a string quartet, flute, oboe and piano, together with a soprano, joined in song sometimes by Liz Menezes, one of the violinists.

They were formed some 25 years ago and, as their name suggests, specialize in salon repertoire.

They have made three other discs previously but this is the first I have heard.

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Happy Frog and Hot Canary

Reviewed In the Light Music Society Magazine Issue 51, Spring 2011

This CD contains music that Aspidistra have particularly enjoyed playing over the last three years, with emphasis on works that are rarely recorded, two of them being The Happy Frog and The Hot Canary.

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'The Best of Palm Court' and 'Too Beautiful for Words'

CD review by Philip Scowcroft for the Light Music society News-letter Spring 2004, and for Journal into Melody

The Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra is one of, hopefully, a growing number of ensembles now specialising in Palm Court repertoire.

It has now made two CDs, the first in 1998, the other in 2003. I have heard them both and enjoy the ADRO's stylish playing.

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Robert Farnon Society


Two splendid discs from one of the few remaining ‘Palm Court’ ensembles, including a selection of light-classical and lighter music in finely balanced chamber arrangements.

The orchestra consists of piano, three violins, viola, cello, flute and oboe/cor anglais, producing an ambience perfect for the atmosphere of Imperial tea-time elegance.

Personally I miss a little brass, percussion and a bass (the piano struggles on its own), and yet this is part of the ensemble’s unobtrusive quality. The playing is sensitive and the melodies beautiful.

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Doug Meyer - Library Senior Specialist

Music Listening Room - Lovejoy Library, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

This is an embarrassingly belated note to thank you for the CDs! They arrived safely and promptly…. much more promptly than this reply.

Such beautiful playing and what terrific arrangements, at once light-hearted and lyrical -- nostalgic, but never maudlin. As I write this sentence, I’m enjoying your “Londonderry Air,” transported to a meadow in Ireland rather than sitting at my desk in a contemporary-industrial-design office. Ah, yes…. Thank you!

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Casino Dances

Two reviews published in the Newsletter of the Light Music Society, Summer 2007

… The seven-piece Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra, comprising two violins, viola, cello, flute, oboe and piano, has previously issued CDs in 1998 and 2003.

This third essay is equally acceptable in its re-creation of the sound of the salon orchestra, once so popular, and offers a novelty in the shape of three vocal numbers most attractively sung by soprano Elizabeth Menezes, one of the violinists in the orchestra and with considerable singing experience in operetta, musicals and opera.

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Geoffrey Heald-Smith (ex Max Jaffa Trio)

on "Too Beautiful for Words"

Having heard 'Too Beautiful for Words', I am full of admiration for your playing and selection of items. All were carried out with verve, a feeling for the style and great musicianship - an absolute delight!

May you go from strength to strength. I shall recommend you to the council in Harrogate with a view to a live concert performance at their International Concert once a year.

Yours sincerely,
Geoffrey Heald-Smith
(Former pianist for Max Jaffa Trio and musical director for summer concerts in Whitby, Hull, Scarborough and Bridlington)

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