The April 2011 edition of Gramophone contains a 25-page exploration of film music. Here, Adrian Edwards lists his ten favourite studio recreations of classic movie soundtracks.
Arnold Film Music, Suites – Premier Recordings
London Symphony Orchestra / Richard Hickox
Chandos CHAN 9100 Buy from Amazon
Malcolm Arnold was a prolific composer for the cinema and many of his titles are regarded with great affection. The River Kwai March, the haunting Whistle Down the Wind, the supersonic aerial trails in The Sound Barrier and This Old Man heard from Inn Of The Sixth Happiness, are played with great bravado by the LSO under Hickox’s buoyant direction.
Bernard Herrmann. The Film Scores
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Esa-Pekka Salonen
Sony SK 62700 Buy from Amazon
This is an invaluable Herrmann collection played by an orchestra with pedigree. Five Hitchcock titles include Vertigo, Psycho, Marnie, North By Northwest and Torn Curtain, rejected by Hitchcock, alongside the Suite for Strings, Harp and Percussion from Fruffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 and that smouldering night-piece from Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
Film Music of Richard Addinsell
Martin Roscoe pf, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Rumon Gamba
Chandos CHAN 10046 Buy from Amazon
This collection brings together Addinsell’s piece de resistance the Warsaw Concerto in a performance as fine as any, his Christmas music for Scrooge, played by Alastair Sim, the Suite from Goodbye Mr Chips featuring Chetham’s Choir and the effervescent Blithe Spirit. There’s an integrity to all this music that this CD proclaims loud and clear.
Film Music of Sir Arthur Bliss
BBC Philharmonic / Rumon Gamba
Chandos CHAN 9896 Buy now from Amazon
From a jaunty march, Welcome The Queen, composed for a Pathe newsreel, to the groundbreaking Things To Come, (who doesn’t experience a shiver up the spine when that March begins?), this is a superbly played and recorded CD as a tribute to a pioneer of film music. From television comes The Royal Palaces Suite, a BBC commission, and Bliss the balletomane shines through in his exotic score for Caesar and Cleopatra.
Film Music of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett
BBC Philharmonic / Rumon Gamba
Chandos CHAN 9867 Buy now from Amazon
This CD salutes the gifts of a versatile composer with a fastidious ear for musical story telling that has enhanced many a film. The beautiful viola contribution in Lady Caroline Lamb and the exquisite music in Enchanted April, lend these films a resonance long after the house lights have gone up. On a grand scale, there’s that inspired anthem to luxury rail travel, Murder On The Orient Express.
Hollywood Dreams (Various)
Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra / John Mauceri
Philips 432 109-2
Recorded anew on the sound stage of Ben-Hur and Gigi, this lavishly produced CD is the last word in authenticity. Each selection is a winner and includes The Main Title to Gone With The Wind with the distant chorus singing Dixie, the concert suite from The Wizard of Oz, Bernstein’s moving On The Waterfront, a Fanfare for a Bowl Concert by Schoenberg and Newman’s fanfare for Twentieth Century-Fox as well as Waxman’s Suite, A Place In The Sun.
Hollywood In Love (various)
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra / John Mauceri
Philips 454 647-2
John Mauceri coaxes wonderful playing from his orchestra on this album, produced with love and affection. A number of artists make ‘guest appearances’ including Gil Shaham, the fine violin soloist in Ennio Morricone’s sentimental Cinema Paradiso. The string players of the HBO share their conductor’s innate sense of rubato, melting the heart in a tune like Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing. Romantic movie memories indeed!
Ladykillers – Music From Those Glorious Ealing Comedies (various)
Royal Ballet Sinfonia / Kenneth Alwyn
Silva Screen FILMCD 117 Buy now from Amazon
Thanks to the skills of arranger Philip Lane, a quintessential part of English popular culture lives on in these lively performances of titles such as Passport To Pimlico (Auric), The Lady Killers (Cary) and The Cruel Sea (Rawsthorne). This is a happy reminder of an era when the music of leading English composers was in the cinema. Spurred on, no doubt, by release deadlines, these scores bristle with invention.
Previn conducts Korngold
London Symphony Orchestra / André Previn
DG 471 347-2 Buy from Amazon
Patrick Russ has reconstructed and assembled four Korngold titles (Captain Blood, Elizabeth and Essex, The Prince and the Pauper, The Sea Hawk), that starred the swashbuckling Errol Flynn. The scoring is full-on, but André Previn, a master at bringing light and shade to the many-layered textures of late romantic music, ensures these fine performances by the LSO are finely tuned.
Walton Scenes from Henry V. Richard III and Henry V – Suites. Spitfire Prelude and Fugue
Sir Laurence Olivier speaker; Philharmonia Orchestra / Sir William Walton
EMI 5 65007 2 Buy from Amazon
The Suites come in the arrangements by Muir Mathieson, the scenes from Henry V from 78rpm studio recordings made in 1946 that honour the spirit of Olivier’s film without being an exact replica of the film soundtrack. Olivier is as compelling now as ever one remembered, and Walton conducts with fire in his belly.