> FRANKEL Film Music Vol 2 9998092 [HC]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Benjamin FRANKEL (1906 – 1973)
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
The Curse of the Werewolf: Pastoral (1961)
The Night of the Iguana (1964)
Trottie True (1949)
The Years Between: Lullaby (1946)
Footsteps in the Fog (1955)

Queensland Symphony Orchestra; Werner Andreas Albert
Recorded : ABC Studio 420, Brisbane, October-November 2000
CPO 999 809-2 [67:13]


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The score of the selection from The Importance of Being Earnest was found in the BBC’s music library though the identity of the arranger, either the composer or somebody else, can not be ascertained. However, this is a delightful, witty score in which Frankel pays homage to Offenbach, particularly so in the opening tune which also concludes this short piece cleverly arranged as a light overture.

The Pastoral from The Curse of the Werewolf is the only overtly tonal item of an otherwise quite radical film score, considered as the first atonal film score ever. A beautiful short tone poem not unlike Honegger’s Pastorale d’été. (A recording of the three-movement suite is available on SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 175, also re-issued on FILMXCD 309.)

The Night of the Iguana, based on Tennessee Williams’ play, was (and still is) a great movie boasting a brilliant cast including Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr among others. Frankel wrote one of his most accomplished film scores. For the most part, the music is dark, introvert, tense though sparsely scored. However the delightful vignette Mexican Washer Women provides for some welcome contrast. Some of the music was available on LP (MGM E-4247 nla) but this is the complete score preserved by the composer. Undoubtedly one of his finest achievements.

Frankel had preserved some of the material written for Trottie True possibly in view of compiling a short suite from it but he apparently never did so. The music for this light-hearted comedy is very similar to that for The Importance of Being Earnest, and is full of jolly, tuneful, hummable tunes such as the opening Gaiety Galop or the closing Trottie True Trot, a near-cousin of the celebrated Carriage and Pair from So Long at the Fair. Both this score and that of The Importance of Being Earnest are wonderful examples of Frankel’s musical humour.

Dimitri Kennaway arranged the Lullaby from The Years Between for strings. (This short piece was published as a piano solo played in the original soundtrack by Eileen Joyce.)

For Footsteps in the Fog starring Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons, Frankel wrote another predominantly serious and tense score that nevertheless includes the delightful Drive in the Countryside. The score abounds with beautiful themes such as The Lily Watkins Theme or the darker Lowry’s Secret. Dimitri Kennaway here faced a difficult task while reconstructing the music for very little of the original score has survived and the present reconstruction, mostly done by listening repeatedly to the soundtrack, represents about half of the original score. A remarkable job by all counts.

CPO have put us in their debt for their remarkable and committed championing of Frankel’s music. The present release, a most welcome sequel to their superb recording of Frankel’s big score for The Battle of the Bulge, is again well played, well recorded and well documented, and thus is warmly recommended. Not for film bluffs only.

Hubert Culot

See alsoDimitri Kennaway The Making of Music for the Movies

See also earlier release of Frankel Film Music which picked up a Midem2002 Award for Film Music


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