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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. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10418 [70:50]

The Chandos British film music series reaches John Addison who usually orchestrated his work, and conducted his own music at the recording sessions of his film scores. Addison is perhaps best known, rather unfortunately, as being Bernard Herrmann’s replacement composer for Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain, a Cold War thriller. The ‘Main Titles’ is included in this collection, bleak music with a sourly jaunty theme and an equally jaundiced saxophone solo over brutal timpani and snare drum ostinati.
Much of Addison’s music was for war films. Probably the best-loved is his splendidly swaggering march for A Bridge Too Far, one of those tunes that persist in the memory. Gamba, here, includes a 10+-minute suite from the film that, in addition to its heroism, has material of yearning and delicacy set against the general horror of the action. Addison’s I Was Monty’s Double score contrasts bluster with a wry perkiness. Reach for the Sky inspired another grand march, music that soars and quite realistically evokes the aerobatics and heroism of RAF pilot Douglas Bader and his fellow World War II pilots. Carol Reed’s The Man Between was a rather seedy production about profiteering in post-war West Berlin. Addison’s music was accordingly bleak with a despairing saxophone solo. Rather more disappointing, The Charge of the Light Brigade’s music was an amalgam of national anthems and contemporary martial music with Addison’s often wry commentary; a quite different score to Max Steiner’s memorable music for the earlier Errol Flynn version.
Addison was equally at home with comedy. The Maggie is a wonderfully cheeky romp with material suggestive of an old music box and tipsy dance measures. Fielding’s bawdy masterpiece Tom Jones inspired some very witty Addison music that swerved between music-hall silliness and neo-classical counterpoint for its mock-seriousness. Imaginative effects cleverly underscore Tom’s pranks but the music also elicits sympathy for the characters. Brandy for the Parson was a charming little B-feature romp about a young couple ignorant of the contraband on their holiday yacht. Addison’s music is redolent of their voyage and the south of England countryside through which the couple flee from customs plus rather tipsy material for the contraband. The charming old-fashioned Mirror Waltz from Touch and Go might have come from the pen of Ivor Novello in its sweet nostalgia. The Carlton-Browne of the F.O. and Sleuth scores inspired more droll studied ribaldry, the former having material somewhat reminiscent of Eric Coates. Murder She Wrote needed something to suggest the detective Jessica Fletcher. Addison responded with a dainty minuet contrasted with more hedonistic stuff.
Centennial was the history of a Colorado town from the 18th century to the present day and it inspired an energetic extrovert score redolent of wide open vistas contrasted with homespun material reminiscent of Aaron Copland. This score would not have disgraced the pen of Steiner or Tiomkin, and the Swashbuckler music has the cut and dash and wit and romanticism of Korngold’s scores for Errol Flynn. Strange Invaders was another film with an American setting; this time set in a small Illinois town … signified by material not far removed from Waxman’s Peyton Place score. It was a parody of sci-fi thrillers with moody music for the alien invaders that would not have shamed John Williams or Bernard Herrmann. The BBC Concert Orchestra play up all its thrills.
One of the very best of Chandos’s British film music series with Gamba and the BBC Concert Orchestra on top form.
Ian Lace
see also review by Rob Barnett


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