> "Things to come" - Original Film Music Themes 1936-1947 [GPJ]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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"THINGS TO COME" – Original Film Music Themes 1936-1947
1. Things to Come: March; Ballet for children; Melodrama – Attack; Melodrama – Pestilence; The World in Ruins; Epilogue Arthur BLISS

2. The Warsaw Concerto from ‘Dangerous Moonlight’ – Richard ADDINSELL
3. The Night has Eyes – Charles WILLIAMS
4. Bambi: Musical Selection – Frank CHURCHILL

5. Cornish Rhapsody from ‘Love Story’ – Hubert BATH
6. The Way to the Stars; Musical Themes – Nicolas BRODSZKY

7. The Dream of Olwen from ‘While I Live’ – Charles WILLIAMS
8. While I Live from ‘While I Live’ – Charles WILLIAMS
13. Spellbound Concerto from ‘Spellbound’ – Miklós RÓZSA
London Symphony Orchestra/Muir Matheson (1,6,7), /Arthur Bliss (2,3,4,5) /Hubert Bath (10), Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams (8, 13), Peter Yorke and his Concert Orchestra (9),
Two Cities Symphony Orchestra/Charles Williams(11), Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra(12, 13)
with Louis Kentner, piano (7), Harriet Cohen, piano (10), Arthur Dulay, piano (12)
All tracks recorded in London between June 1935 and December 1947
NAXOS Nostalgia 8.120597 [60:23]


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Composers of film music can be forgiven for using clichés. Audiences are very rarely consciously aware of the music, and even if they are, are almost certainly not analysing it stylistically. But the clichés themselves vary from one era to another, and can tell you a lot about the age to which they belong. All the music on this fascinating CD comes from a twelve-year period encompassing World War 2. It’s almost comical to note how many of the pieces start with near-identical openings – a sustained low note followed by an upward rush of strings, often with harp glissando, leading to sonorous chords in full orchestra.

Then there is the curious obsession with the piano concerto; Addinsell and his Warsaw Concerto led the way, with Bath’s Cornish Rhapsody and Williams’ The Dream of Olwen not far behind. Arguably, David Lean shot this particular fox in 1946 by going straight to the top and using Rachmaninov’s 2nd Concerto (of which all of the above are arguably spin-offs) for his classic Brief Encounter.

The most significant composer represented here, Sir Arthur Bliss, is exempted from these considerations, and his music for Things to Come immediately sets him apart from the more modest talents found on the other tracks. This is a fine score, and of course often appears as a concert suite. Among other things, we have here the famous rousing March, and the dignified Epilogue, complete with chorus in this recording.

The Warsaw Concerto is a well-known lollipop, but it is some time since I heard it, and I had forgotten two things; firstly how intensely evocative of its wartime period it is, and secondly what a genuinely fine tune it is based on. It may be a ‘Rachmaninov rip-off’, but it’s one the great Russian, I suspect, may not have been unhappy about. The performance is enhanced by the presence of none other than the superb Louis Kentner playing the solo part.

The other tracks are perhaps less musically engaging, but there is much to enjoy, including another great sweeping tune in Miklós Rózsa’s music for Hitchcock’s Spellbound. Rózsa won an Oscar for his haunting music for this film, which starred Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. The booklet notes tell us that Hungarian-born Rózsa was trained at Trinity College of Music in London, which I didn’t know, and left for the US in 1940, where he eventually became part of the MGM set-up for fourteen years. There are those who feel (I am among them) that, had Rózsa decided to stay with ‘serious’ composition, he might have become one of the more important composers of the second half of the 20th century. He didn’t, though, and was probably quite a lot richer for it!

A fascinating and highly enjoyable disc. Fine performances, recorded to the best standards of their time, and prepared lovingly for this edition by Naxos’s Peter Dempsey.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

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