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John ADDISON (1920-1998)
The Film Music
I was Monty's Double - March (1958) [2:58] *
Centennial Main Theme, arr. Patrick Russ (1979) [4:09] *
Swashbuckler Suite (1976) [5:46]
A Bridge Too Far (1977) [10:24]
The Maggie - Song of the Maggie, arr. Shaples (1953) [2:31]
Reach for the Sky (1956) [4:07]
Strange Invaders (1983) [9:28]
The Man Between 'Berlin Story' (1953) [2:10]
Tom Jones Overture (1963) [4:45]
The Charge of the Light Brigade Suite (1968) [7:19]
Brandy for the Parson Opening Titles; End Titles (1951) [3:03] *
Torn Curtain Main Titles, orch. Edward B. Powell [2:22]
Touch and Go Mirror Waltz (1955) [2:41] *
Sleuth (1972) [3:08]
Carlton-Browne of the F.O. March, arr. Ronald Hanmer (1958) [1:49] *
Murder, She Wrote Main Theme (1984) [2:10]
BBC Concert Orchestra/Rumon Gamba
rec. Watford Colosseum, 4-5 October 2006
CHANDOS CHAN 10418 [70:50]


It’s a pleasure to welcome the latest instalment in the Chandos British Film Music line. Surely we will not be denied a Brian Easdale collection for much longer.

The cheeky resonant skirl and braggart splendour of I was Monty’s Double bears comparison with similar moments in  one of Addison’s finest: A Bridge Too Far. We are reminded of this in the premiere recording of a ten minute suite from A Bridge Too Far. Interesting to hear the other interludes – including one which seems to be Rachmaninov out of Fauré’s Pavane - but everyone is on tenterhooks for the return of the march. This one does not have quite the swagger of Marcus Dods version made the year after the film with the CBSO for EMI. However Gamba is no slouch and the march struts superbly well: all swagger stick, bristling moustache and that piccolo cutting through like a razor. It’s a treasure of a march with a beaming Arnoldian smile at 3:03. The Strange Invaders music from many years later also reeks of the theme from A Bridge Too Far.

The score for the Kenneth More hit Reach for the Sky is truly magniloquent with the horns gloriously blatant. They are  given a romping and rolling romantic theme and they play their hearts out with it. The Man Between music comes complete with rolling drum and film noir tensions – a typical vehicle for James Mason: the Cold war thriller in West Berlin. The score for Tom Jones is more zany with its Arnoldian bawdiness. It’s rather like Britten at play among Purcell and Handel but with a dash of the feral and rebellious turmoil of Auric (one of the earlier volumes in the series). Touch and Go offers romance while the cue from Sleuth manages absurd and grand guignol all at once. Carlton-Browne of the FO is a fluffy piece with a skip in the step in the march. Murder she wrote will be very familiar to many listeners even if it is rather reminiscent Carl Davis’s music for BBCTV’s Pride and Prejudice. For The Charge of Light Brigade Addison draws on a gallimaufry of national tunes treated with frolicsome brio. There’s a lilting and haunting romantic interlude as contrast. The Brandy for the Parson excerpt is a sort of slightly inebriated fugue. The Maggie is a confection in which Arnold might well have been the model. The cheeky little music box moments counter-pointed with the stomping bombast of the English Dances.

His even more ephemeral TV music heritage is captured at its peak in the almost mystical main title for the TV series Centennial (1978-79) – a small screen history of a Colorado town of that name from the 1700s to the 1970s. This is both poetic and in its insistent bass heavy fanfares hyper-epic. If the Waxman style wails at the start of the Swashbuckler suite, paying fleeting tribute to an overlooked hero of the silver screen, the remainder of this score pulses forward with confidence. Predictably given that the film was meant to evoke the era of 1940s Spanish Main films (such as The Sea Hawk recently re-recorded by Naxos) there is even a golden strand of Korngold in the strings. A slow rumba rocks insistently in Caribbean consolation through the final pages.

Addison is one of the treasures of the film and television music worlds and this disc magnificently performed and recorded is ample proof.

Rob Barnett


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