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.
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.
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.
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.
realised and vitally performed this is another valuable addition
to the Naxos Film Classics Series.
see also reviews by Steve
Arloff and Göran
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