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Captain Blood and other Swashbucklers
Miklos ROZSA (1907-1995)

The King’s Thief (1955) [7:37] (reconstructed by Christopher Palmer)
Victor YOUNG (1900-1956)

Scaramouche (1952) [18:44] (reconstructed by William Stromberg)
Main Title [1:34]; Vanished merchant [2:06]; The tomb, Andre and Aline [3:46]; Why? [1:48]; Pavane [2:19]; Andre escapes [1:37]; The Big Apple [1:23]; The Magic Box-Roses and Napoleon [3:25]; End Cast [0:46]
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)

Captain Blood (1935) [19:50] (reconstructed by John Morgan)
Main Title [2:49]; Slaves - Arabella and Blood [6:57]; Tortuga [1:45]; Port Royal – Island of Magra – English Pirate Ships [5:07]; Pirate’s Flag [1:39]; Finale [1:32]
Max STEINER (1888-1971)

The Three Musketeers (1935) [18:50] (reconstructed by John Morgan)
To Paris – Fencing Demonstration [3:46]; Love Theme [4:08]; Fight behind Palace [2:06]; Night-time - Pigeons [2:56]; Carriage Ride [2:45]; Finale [3:08]
Brandenburg Philharmonic Orchestra/Richard Kaufman
rec. Jesus Christ Church, Berlin, Germany, 14-16 April, 15-21 June 1994. DDD
NAXOS FILM MUSIC CLASSICS 8.557704 [65:16]
 


One of the undersung heroes of this and other film discs is John Morgan. His reconstructions – and this is painstaking, difficult and sometimes unrewarding work – lie behind two of these scores, the exceptions being the Rózsa, which was reconstructed by Christopher Palmer and Victor Young’s Scaramouche, which is the work of William Stromberg.  As a brief note by Morgan makes clear the re-orchestrations are fiddly and difficult, deriving as they do from piano reductions and from the hard business of listening to the film soundtrack.
 
All four scores in fact sound thoroughly authentic, richly and splendidly realised. The brief Rózsa score has plentiful Renaissance cadences and jigs and some radiant lyricism. At times it comes very close to Vaughan-Williams – try the gorgeous tune at 5.00 for the highpoint of this seven and a half minute reconstruction. Victor Young’s Scaramouche lasts a great deal longer, getting on for nineteen minutes and is tracked in nine movements. The brassy and percussive flair of the Main Title sequence leads onto some opulently scored writing of decidedly luscious qualities. Sentiment is perfectly balanced by moments of romantic melancholy. Cheeky and lyrical, with its triumphant La Marseillaise quotation sounding proud and noble, this is a treasurable score, to whose permanent reestablishment we owe a serious debt to William Stromberg.
 
Korngold’s Captain Blood was a starring vehicle for the master of the swash and the buckle, the licentious Australian Errol Flynn. So charismatic a cinema composer as Korngold can never be gainsaid. Spinning a stirring and lyrical tune was his forte. But the vibrancy of his characterisation is what distinguishes him still further in this genre – that and his clear indebtedness to Wagner, which one can hear in the second of the six tracked sections, Slaves – Arabella and Blood.  Listen, too, to the deftly scored tension and unease generated in the music of the fourth track, to the magnificently deployed string choir writing and glittering harp arpeggios. He reserves some blazing muscle for the Pirates’ Flag.
 
Max Steiner’s The Three Musketeers unravels La Marseillaise, as did Scaramouche. In its gallantry and surging passion its cuts a fine dash billowing with bold, brassy marches, funereal dirges and love scenes. Steiner always knew how to generate powerful moods though the dash comprehensively outweighs the more uneasy tremors in this ebullient score. Oddly he comes quite close to sounding like Bliss in the fifth of the six tracks, Carriage Ride.
 
Splendidly realised and vitally performed this is another valuable addition to the Naxos Film Classics Series.
 
Jonathan Woolf

see also reviews by Steve Arloff and Göran Forsling
 


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