Just when you thought
it was safe to leave the shelter of the world behind the sofa
here come not one, not two, but three monsters – Dracula, The
Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster! And with them comes the
most preposterous plot of all! Mad scientist Boris Karloff escapes
from prison thanks to a thunderstorm; with a hunchback assistant
he takes the persona of the owner of a travelling chamber of horrors.
Within days he has got his hands on the three monsters already
named, finding the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man encased
in ice in a cave, and he punctuates his desire for revenge with
experiments in brain transplants! In the end, everybody dies.
or not the plot is silly, to say the least, the music is superb!
J Salter was another refugee from Nazi Germany, a man who studied
with Alban Berg and Franz Schreker, who made his career in Hollywood.
His collaborator, Paul Dessau, had arrived in America in 1939
after a career in Europe as both composer and conductor. He
was made more politically aware through wartime collaboration
with Brecht and joined the American Communist Party in 1946,
returning to East Berlin two years later. His collaboration
with Brecht continued, and after the writer’s death took to
writing using Schoenberg’s twelve note technique and supporting
the growing West European avant-garde.
disk gives us the complete score for the film – 55 minutes of
the most eerie and atmospheric music, with the most evocative
titles – Rendezvous with Dracula, Death of the Unholy
Two and Liquefying Brains. What a score it is and
what marvellous work John Morgan has done in his reconstruction
from a three line piano score – Universal having destroyed all
their old horror film scores. The orchestration is fully 1940s
horror and the music sounds incredibly modern – so much so that
when the Moscow musicians were recording the score they wondered
if it was from a modern film. This is music for film which was
truly ahead of its time.
already written about seven of these disks in the Naxos Film
Music Classics series there is little new I can say. The production
values are high, the recordings full and spacious, the performances
totally committed, the booklet helpful and detailed and the
standard of scholarship without peer.
about giving us some David Raksin? I’d put The Bad and the
Beautiful (1952), The Big Combo (1955) and Al Capone
(1959) on the list for a start. Am I being greedy? Of course I
am, but Naxos cannot, after what we’ve already heard, stop giving
us such quality recordings.