Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Film Music
including The Captive Heart, The Cruel Sea, Burmah Victory etc
BBCPO/Rumon Gamba
Chandos CHAN 9749

Though not a particularly prolific composer Rawsthorne nevertheless composed a sizeable body of works among which there are some twenty-seven film scores written between 1937 and 1964. The remarkable thing about these scores is the individuality of the music which while being somewhat more straightforward than his concert music, still possesses all the harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic Rawsthorne fingerprints so that one is never in doubt about the authorship of the music. In this he joins his distinguished colleagues Alwyn and Arnold whose film scores were always highly personal. The most sizeable item in this release is the suite from The Captive Heart (1946, arranged by Gerard Schurmann) which also contains some of the best music, in turn heroic, nostalgic, lyrical, dramatic and celebratory. A major addition to the expanding Rawsthorne discography. Incidentally the suite does not include The Prisoner's March (available on SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 177). Most other items compiled or arranged by Gerard Schurmann (Lease of Life - 1954, Suite from Burmah Victory - 1945 and Saraband for Dead Lovers - 1948) or by Philip Lane are also highly typical of Rawsthorne's writing for films. Some of the scores, e.g. Burmah Victory, may be somewhat more conventional, still superbly crafted. The Three Dances arranged from The Dancing Fleece (1950) by Philip Lane is somewhat lighter in mood than the other film scores included in this collection. This film by the Crown Film Unit aimed at promoting British wool and was cast in the form of a ballet portraying the processes of manufacture and Rawsthorne responded with a wonderful light-hearted score. Uncle Silas (1947) is another noteworthy film score including a short Valse Caprice based on an early violin piece Pierrette written in 1934.

This is a most welcome release including some really fine music which would have otherwise remained unheard and which definitely should be better-known. Rumon Gamba conducts vital performances and receives a magnificent support from the BBC Phil. This release pays a well-deserved tribute to Rawsthorne who would certainly have been delighted to have "the celluloid playing his tunes" with such commitment.

Unreservedly recommended.


Hubert Culot

See also review by Paul Conway


Hubert Culot

Reviews from previous months

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