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Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967)
Rebecca - film score (1940) [72.32]
Viktor Šimčisko (violin)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
Recorded in the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio in Bratislava, November 1990 and January-February 1991
NAXOS 8.557549 [72.32]

 

Here is the latest in the Naxos Film Music Classics series to have migrated from Marco Polo, where it first appeared over a decade ago. This re-issue series, in updated livery, complete – in this case – with the flaming mansion house is going from strength to strength. And here we have one of the veritable masterpieces of the film genre, Waxman’s 1940 film score for Rebecca.

The original film score ran to just over two hours of which 72 minutes have been recorded here. Sometimes this is of little account as producer David Selznick inserted other pieces of music, such as a cue by Max Steiner from the film Little Lord Fauntleroy. Another piece by Steiner was used in the film for the Beatrice scene but in this recording it’s been excised and Waxman’s original cue has been recorded.  Some pieces that were, in effect recycled Waxman were also included – the scores and parts for the Mrs Danvers cue didn’t exist and reconstructive surgery has been undertaken using the composer’s notes to reinstate it.  

Whatever the intricacies of re-instatement and removal the score remains substantially intact and is explored with real élan and vigour in this performance, Adriano revealing himself once more to be something of a past-master of his art and the Slovak orchestra to be a body both well disciplined and capable of considerable expression.

The opening is tense and turbulent before the Hotel Lobby waltz lends a flighty air to the proceedings – flirty flutes following in the tennis scenes and plenty of warm lyricism. There are some Gershwinesque clarinets in the following cues and fervent strings as well as a big role for the orchestra’s leader in the Entrance Hall-Mrs Danvers cues. In the film that role fell to the liquid and burnished Louis Kaufman but here the job is adeptly taken by the more equable Viktor Šimčisko. 

Signs of Waxman’s experimental ear can be gauged by the Morning Room scene – all strange, nasty tension explored through the novachord and in the ensuing scenes where the cor anglais is pensive and the strings similarly uneasy. This is a little tone poem in itself and should be standard issue kit to aspiring film composers, novachord or no novachord. But Waxman imbues the Sketching scene with a warm ambling gait and threads another languid little waltz as well for the Ball. Waxman’s conjuring up of the showering Rockets after the ball is masterly as well – they flicker at their apex and shower down earthwards presaging the ominous brass tread of the Dawn cue. And then, before the conflagration and the noble end, we have the romanticism, with solo violin, of the Fireplace cue. All this is seamless and masterly.

At budget price interested parties could hardly refuse such a textually intelligent, well-played and con amore production.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 

 



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