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Dangerous Moonlight – Piano Classics for the Silver Screen
Richard Addinsell (1904-1977) Warsaw Concerto [Dangerous Moonlight] (1941) [8:04]
Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943) Paganini Rhapsody – 18th Variation (1934) [2:56]
Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995) Spellbound Concerto [Spellbound] (1945) [8:06]
Lindley Evans (1895-1982) Idyll [7:14]
George Gershwin (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue (1924) [16:06]
Hubert Bath (1883-1945) Cornish Rhapsody [Love Story 1945] (1945) [5:29]
Charles Litolff (1918-1982) Scherzo from the Concerto Symphonique No.4 [7:27]
Isador Goodman (1909-1982) New Guinea Fantasy [8:13]
Charles Williams (1893-1978) Dream of Olwen [Where I live] (1947) [3:04]
Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No.2 – Adagio sostenuto [Brief Encounter] (1901) [10:44]
Isador Goodman, piano
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Patrick Thomas
Dates of the pieces given where noted on the sleeve or otherwise known.
Associated film noted where known.

Recording dates or locations not given.
PHILIPS ELOQUENCE CD 476 7333 [79:04]


 

This CD is obviously intended for the mass market as some useful information is missing from the CD notes. The connoisseur expects detail! For a start the dates of most of the works are not given in the text. Secondly the dates of recordings are not quoted. Perhaps it is felt that this sort of detail is not of interest to the listener?

The documentation for this disc only occasionally identifies the film with which a particular piece is associated. It would of course be possible to do a search on the internet to find out what music goes with which film – but I doubt anyone will bother doing that. Strangely the Gershwin is associated here with a documentary about the composer as opposed to a ‘blockbuster’. This seems to be at odds with the disc’s title.

More curiously, the timings of some of the works appear to be considerably less than other versions in my collection. This suggests that a little cutting has been going on here and there.

Let’s just look a bit further at the timings. The Spellbound Concerto is nearly four minutes longer on the RTE Concert Orchestra version on Naxos 8.554323. The same recording makes the Dream of Olwen nearly twice as long. Odd minutes are cut out here and there with the other works. Some pianists and conductors whip through works faster than others, however I doubt that Patrick Thomas rattles off these works any quicker than most. No, cuts it must be, although without the music I cannot be sure. Also there is always the possibility that the producers lacked definitive scores. I have seen two or three different versions of Hubert Bath’s Cornish Rhapsody in print. That may be the excuse.

I do not like movements excerpted. That’s a personal fetish. I also know that many people live off ‘purple passages’ cut from the great scores. I do not like to hear what for me is one of the greatest and most beautiful piano concertos in the entire repertoire reduced to one movement. It reminds me of Classic FM. They often play a movement from a concerto or symphony and then have the gall to announce ‘that was Symphony No. 4’ without bothering to point out that it was only about one quarter of it. Some people will imagine that they have heard the entire work.

I have no problems with things like the Warsaw Concerto and the Cornish Rhapsody. They stand on their own and always have done. What I do have a problem with, is when they are played one after the other. This CD has 10 tracks of some of most romantic concerted music in the repertoire. Most people buying this CD will play it end to end. All this intense music will just be washing over them by the time they get to the end of the Rachmaninov extract. This is not the way to listen to music.

Two works call for special mention as they are not generally well known. Lindley Evans’ Idyll was originally scored for two pianos and orchestra. It is extremely romantic in nature and is a good as the other better known confections on this disc. I have never heard it before, but then I have not flown Quantas. Apparently it was once used on their ‘in flight’ music programme.

Also included on this CD is one of the pianist’s own compositions – New Guinea Fantasy. This work was dedicated to all the service men and women of World War II. Nothing more is said. I hate to say this but to my ears at least it is the least successful of all the works here. It kind of chugs along – the piano not quite managing to compete with drums and trumpets. It has all the trappings of this kind of music – octaves and complex figuration – but it just does not come off. The composer seems unable to settle on a style. I will not go as far to say that it is dreadful: it will suffice to say that it is all over the place. … I do not need to hear it again.

I do not know anything about the pianist, Isador Goodman. A quick search on the Crotchet and Arkiv CD databases reveals a blank. There is no biography in the CD sleeve notes.

I cannot fault the playing: it has all the hallmarks of this kind of romantic and overblown pianism. And I imagine it is just what the customer will enjoy. I would like to suggest that the listener takes one or two of these works at a time and sits down and really enjoys them. They are all (with the one exception noted above) little gems and deserve our wholehearted attention.

John France



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