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Casino Dances

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Friday, 1 June, 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.

Generally speaking Aspidistra’s repertoire gets away from the often (perhaps too often) recorded light music favourites. Of the seventeen tracks here only Donkey Serenade, Londonderry Air (but in a less familiar setting) and maybe the little waltz Casino Dances fall within that category. The rest, maybe less familiar, are a catchy lot.

Neil Moret’s Hiawatha and the vocal By the Waters of Minnetonka shed light on Longfellow’s legend; Offenbach’s Musette, Air de Ballet has the cello prominent (appropriately as Offenbach was once a cellist); and how good to hear Jacob Gade’s tango Monna Vanna as a change from Jealousy. This nicely recorded disc is warmly recommended.
Philip Scowcroft

Those of you who have heard The Best of Palm Court and the recently reviewed Too Beautiful for Words will know that the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra plays real music with real energy.

I have seldom heard a small ensemble so perfectly in balance with itself; all the players are genuine admirers of this ‘very fun’ kind of light music, and they are first-rate advocates of it.

This disc forms a perfect programme playable from start to finish with plenty of contrast and a generous helping of less familiar music.

Have you ever despaired at a CD recording so clinically perfect that it seems to loose all sense of life and purpose? The playing here is not immaculate; if it was then I think something more valuable would be lost.

These are real performances complete with the human elements that make good music worth listening to.
Peter Edwards

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

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