Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Very tenuous Penderecki connection

Now that Christmas is all but over and the sale season is in full spate, I thought an advertising record should be a tasteful blog item.

Saunders Calling 
Parts 1 & 2

Christopher Stone, Ray Noble and his orchestra 
with Alan Saunders

HMV B 23  
[matrix 0B 5193-2 and 0B 5194-2]
Recorded Thursday 23rd November 1933

Mediafire download FLAC [14Mb] or MP3 [10Mb]

The company of J.J.G. Saunders & Son is now no more I fear. In its heyday the firm was the chief suppliers of building, heating, plumbing, glass and ironmongery in the Brighton, Hove and Sussex catchment area.

Ray Noble
They have however left behind a very good record. Saunders' employed one of the best dance bands The New Mayfair Orchestra under its director Ray Noble to supply the music and Christopher Stone, the first British disc jockey among may other things, to act as our host.
Christopher Stone
I believe the musicians in the orchestra at the time of the recording are as follows:

Ray Noble - director
Max Goldberg - trumpet
Alfie Noakes - trumpet
Lew Davis - trombone
Tony Thorpe - trombone
Freddy Gardner  - clarinet/alto-saxophone/baritone-saxophone
Bob Wise - clarinet/alto-saxophone/baritone-saxophone
Harry Berly - clarinet/tenor saxophone/viola
Reginald Pink - clarinet/tenor Saxophone
Eric Siday - violin
Reginald Pursglove - violin
Harry Jacobson - piano
Bert Thomas - guitar
Tiny Winters - string bass
Bill Harty - drums

The playing is really quite brilliant, this is not surprising considering that each of the musicians was very well known or even a star in their own right. Jean Pougnet is probaly the best known to classical collectors, and it is noteworthy that with Harry Berly they played Mozart Sinfonia concertante K 364 in both the 1925 and 1926 London Proms. The clever music arrangements, the incorporation of sound effects, the timing, all without the possibility of editing and then each side only a second take shows how good they really were. I would think that two takes was the limit as the deal with HMV would be something like this: Mayfair orchestra £50: use of studio for a morning and two takes each side £25 and 100 pressings for £50 total £125 – maybe Christopher Stone came free for he may well have been a friend of Alan Saunders.

The HMV 'B' plum label was mainly, but not exclusively, given over to popular repertoire and became the longest running HMV 78 series. Starting with B101 in September 1912 with a final issue B10968 in February 1958, numbers B2 to B47 were utilized for private contracts and in-house requirements. As they were not part of the usual series they had more often than not a yellow label. The present record was made at Abbey Road Studio using the Blumlein recording equipment.

Below is a rather sad photograph of all that is left of this once proud company; I would think the white building to the left was originally the showroom. Today they are up for sale with planning permission for flats so I think they will be gone fairly soon.

Saunders in Brighton
Just love the graffiti 
Ok, Ok, in case you are wondering what this connection with Penderecki is, he just happened to be born the same day this recording was cut  - I did say it was very tenuous - clearly an underhand trick to get people to look at this blog - promise to make a New Years resolution about my deceptive personality.


  1. Ah, the old trick of mentioning Penderecki to get readers, eh? And I fell for it again!

  2. Very tasteful, brilliantly performed and utterly charming - thanks so much for this evocative reminder of gentler times! There's a much less tenuous connection with my own hobby-horse, the National Gramophonic Society. Christopher Stone had been the NGS Secretary since 1924: it was in 'suspended animation' when he made this record and was never re-animated. Pougnet and Berly had both recorded for the NGS, too, in 1925/26: Berly as a member of André Mangeot's Music Society String Quartet, Pougnet as its supernumerary second viola for Purcell's 5-part Fantasia 'Upon One Note' (record DDD) and in Vaughan Williams' Phantasy Quintet (records EEE, FFF). Finally, this disc also lets us enjoy something of Stone's microphone manner, which made him so popular on the wireless: it also vindicates his belief that both gramophone and radio could successfully be harnessed for commercial advertising, although that belief cost him his BBC contract... Happy New Year! Nick