This disc of unknown 20th century works
has been available since 1988 but has yet to feature in the main record
catalogue. It provides an interesting selection of easy listening pieces
taken from soundtracks of Polish films that rarely reach an international
audience. The majority of the Kilar pieces come direct from analogue
film soundtracks while the Malecki and Ingman pieces are studio recorded
digitally in this premiere recording.
Wojciech Kilar was born at Lwow, Poland in 1932
and completed his studies in composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
As a composer, Kilar is already known through five of his orchestral
works and twenty-three film scores already available on CD (under the
Milan (BMG) and Olympia (Priory) labels). This recording features different
film themes from those recorded elsewhere. Kilar, incidentally, received
awards from the Polish Ministry of Culture in 1967 and 1975 in recognition
of his excellence in this field. This disc contains some of his most
haunting and dramatic film themes, including Shadow Line and
the Catamount Concerto, which he composed for the West German
film, Catamount Killing.
A characteristic of Kilarís Shadow music is
that he uses straight-forward themes played concerto style, first by
solo piano and then echoed by light string accompaniment. Laraís
theme from Doctor Zhivago comes to mind both in mood and
timbre. Part 3 of the Catamount Concerto with its arresting percussion
and prominent synthesiser is strikingly different, until it moves into
a gentle theme that has a strong connection with Kilarís previous Shadow
pieces. Orchestration is not complex as one might expect with film music.
The strings often play in unison, and there is not a lot of woodwind/brass
colour or decoration.
Maciej Malecki, born in Warsaw (1940), studied
music at the Conservatoire of Warsaw and the Eastman School of Music,
Rochester, U.S.A. He turned from writing popular song to incidental
music and has scored musicals, operas, plays and TV films in addition
to writing chamber music. Water Mountain (1976) was originally
written for a Polish TV serial The Madness of Majk a Skowron,
yet this film music stands as a complete composition in its own right
and is now performed in orchestral concerts. The disc provides the first
recording of this composer to appear in the catalogue.
One is immediately aware of Maleckiís fluency in composition.
His scores are more complex than Kilarís and he has a good command of
orchestration to produce impact with the elegant harmonies. A sort of
Hollywood feel to the flowing themes is understandable when one considers
his Rochester, USA period of study. Interesting woodwind filigree adds
brightness to the Water Mountain piece and horns are used well
to provide good texture as well as hold the main subject. When we get
to Maleckiís Warsaw Reverie, parts one and three, I find the
style is very much like that of Kilarís, with the focus again provided
by the piano.
Nicholas Ingman, an English composer and musical
director, composed Rosebud in homage to Orson Welles' classic
masterpiece, Citizen Kane. The last word murmured by Kane as
he died in the film amid immense wealth, splendour and loneliness was
"Rosebud". The mystery surrounding its meaning is unravelled
by the film. With this word uppermost in his mind as he died, it was
not the name of some much loved person or priceless treasure, but that
of a sledge, taken from him as a child. It is on this theme of secret
frustration (about a man who had everything, and nothing) that Nicholas
Ingman created this composition. His style, with piano firmly in focus,
is on a similar wavelength to Kilar, but this time the strings provide
a darker mood in minor key. The gentle rocking rhythm of Rosebud
is quite like Satieís Gymnopédie No.1.
The studio recording of Maleckiís Water Mountain
is impressive under Hudecís command and the Polish film soundtracks
have transferred well. Jiri Hudec is known for his recording of Slovak
orchestral works, also under the Campion label. This CD makes good use
of index points in addition to track numbers to identify individual
themes midway through a track. Since CDs were designed for this indexing
option I often wonder why the feature is not more widely used when it
offers additional cueing. The notes in English, French and German are
brief, yet appropriate.
DI Music, 1st/2nd Floors, 7 High Street, Cheadle