British Light Music. Ronald Binge. © 2021 Naxos Rights US Inc

CD Spotlight

Miniature Gems

Light music by Ronald Binge, heard by GERALD FENECH

'... brimming with lilting music that is as dramatic as it is evocative, colourful and harmonically exquisite ...'


Ronald Binge was born on 15 July 1910 in Derby. He came from a working-class neighbourhood in the English Midlands and was attracted to music from a young age. In his childhood he was a chorister at St Andrews Church, London Road, Derby, and in his teens he was educated at the local music school, where he studied the organ.

Early in his career he was a cinema organist, and later worked in summer orchestras at British seaside resorts, including Blackpool and Great Yarmouth, for which he learned to play the piano accordion. Binge's skill as a cinema organist was put to good use, and he played the organ in Mantovani's first band, the 'Tipico Orchestra'. During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Air Force, during which he was much in demand organizing in-camp entertainment.

After the war, Mantovani offered Binge the job of arranging and composing for his new orchestra. In 1951 his arrangement of 'Charmaine' gave him and Mantovani worldwide success and recognition. However, he got fed up writing arrangements and turned to composing original works and film scores. He died in Ringwood, Hampshire, of liver cancer, on 6 September 1979, aged sixty-nine.

All throughout his career, Binge was interested in the technicalities of composition, and was most famous as the inventor of the 'cascading strings' effect that was the signature sound of the Mantovani orchestra, much used in their arrangements of popular music. It was originally created to capture the essence of the echo properties of a building such as a cathedral, although later it became associated with easy-listening music.

Binge's best known compositions are Elizabethan Serenade (1951) which was used by the BBC as the theme for the popular 1950s series Music Tapestry, The Watermill (1958) for oboe and strings, and Sailing By (1963) which introduced the late-night shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4.

Listen — Ronald Binge: The Watermill
(track 13, 0:00-0:47) ℗ 1994 Naxos Rights US Inc :

His Concerto for Alto Saxophone in E Flat (1956) and the Symphony in C (1966-68) do get a performance from time to time.

Listen — Ronald Binge: Rondo (Alto Saxophone Concerto)
(track 12, 0:00-0:51) ℗ 1994 Naxos Rights US Inc :

This programme, which is brimming with lilting music that is as dramatic as it is evocative, colourful and harmonically exquisite, was first issued by Marco Polo way back in 1994. Now it is being presented afresh by Naxos, as part of its ongoing cycle dedicated to 'British Light Music'. This issue is the second in this series.

Listen — Ronald Binge: Scherzo: Allegro molto
(track 14, 3:02-3:57) ℗ 1994 Naxos Rights US Inc :

Despite its age, sound quality is remarkably good and nicely balanced, and every nuance in these miniature gems is brought out with undiluted clarity. If, for some reason, you bypassed the original collection, this is your chance to invest in some lovely music that will surely soothe the anxieties of today's hectic ongoings. Do not miss this second bite at a delicious cherry. Just go for it.

Copyright © 2 October 2021 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta






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