Troise and his Mandoliners - Play to me, Gypsy
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Troise and his Mandoliners
Play to Me, Gypsy (Living Era)

OK, I know I am going to get mugged by the world music police for this one. The cover is atrocious, and the music is dated, but I just can't resist things like mandolin orchestras, and this 'period piece,' cafe-style music recorded in London the 1930s by Italian-born Londoner Pasquale Troise and his small orchestra of mandolins, guitars, strings, piano, accordion... even some slide guitar and xylophone... has an irresistible charm. Top it off with the singing of "Don Carlos" (real name, Birrell O'Malley), dropping off with equal aplomb songs like "The Hills Of Colorado" and "La Poloma" as if they were born for the fake 'continental-with-a-broque' accent that was made more for a Marx brothers film than the concert hall and you have the cheesey charm of low-brow theater of a golden age. Need more? "Hungarian Dance No 5" (Brahms), "Hawaiian Paradise," "Dark Eyes" and "Havana Heaven" are just a few more of the 25 gems that make up this oyster stew. If you buy it, don't say I didn't warn you.

Argentina / Ballerina / Beside My Caravan / Beside The Singing Waters / A Café In Vienna / Dark Eyes / Destiny Waltz / Gipsy Moon / Havana Heaven / Hawaiian Paradise / Hungarian Dance No.5 (Brahms) / In The Hills Of Colorado / Lady, Sing Your Gipsy Song / Nights Of Gladness / Old Monastery Bell / La Paloma / Play To Me, Gipsy / El Relicario / Serenade (Notturno d'amore) (Drigo) / Serenade (Serenata) (Toselli) / Serenade No.1 (Heykens) / Sorrento By The Sea / Spanish Gipsy Dance / Speak Easy / Zampa Overture (Herold)

The record label says (trust me, not them):
And now, as they say, for something completely different: the sound of massed mandolins from the 30s. This was the unique contribution made to the musical scene by the Italian-born Pasquale Troise (1895-1957). His passion for Captain Corelli’s instrument made itself felt when he came to London, becoming President of the Banjo, Mandolin & Guitar Club and leading various light orchestras. He founded Troise and his Mandoliers in 1932, and for the rest of the decade the ensemble became familiar to the public through radio broadcasts, films and a steady stream of recordings of light orchestral repertoire.

Play To Me, Gipsy gives a generous sampling of the highly distinctive sound of Troise and his Mandoliers. Throughout there is wonderfully continental flavour of gipsy serenading: Beside My Caravan, Dark Eyes, Gypsy Moon, Lady Sing Your Gipsy Song and so on. His music always brought an enjoyable touch of the exotic, so that the listener catches a heady whiff of faraway places (Havana Heaven, Hawaiian Paradise, Sorrento By The Sea . . .). Occasionally the ensemble presents classical pieces in characteristic colouring, such as the lively Zampa Overture, Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No.5 or Toselli’s Serenata. Troise’s vocalist, perfect for all this material, was (Irishman!) Don Carlos.

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