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Max STEINER (1888-1971)
The Charge of the Light Brigade- complete film score (1936) [90:02]
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/William Stromberg
rec. Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, February 2008
TRIBUTE FILM CLASSICS TFC-1005 [65:18 + 34:54]
Experience Classicsonline

 

 

Steiner’s score for The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) was his first for Warner Bros.  He would go on to write for more than one hundred films over the next three decades. The film’s story was a very fanciful concoction involving the Light Brigade’s exploits in India before the Crimean campaign. The film starred Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Patrick Knowles and David Niven.

It is available on DVD:       


The Warner Bros shield logo
circa (1935-37)

         

Portions of Steiner’s The Charge of the Light Brigade score had previously been recorded. The ‘Forward the Light Brigade’ track from the album Now Voyager, Classic Film Scores of Max Steiner performed by Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra, appeared on RCA Victor GD80136. There was also a seven-movement suite from The Charge of the Light Brigade on the 1994 Marco Polo recording, 8.223608, that featured the Brandenburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Potsdam conducted by Richard Kaufman.

This is the first recording of the complete score with superb performances, blisteringly exciting in the battle sequences redolent of Richard Strauss in Heldenleben-mode and tenderly romantic for those scenes involving Flynn’s regular romantic interest, Olivia de Havilland. It’s all delivered in excellent sound. The Tribute team: John Morgan who was responsible for music reconstruction and orchestration and Anna Bonn who prepared the music together with conductor William Stromberg are to be congratulated on their achievement.

Steiner again uses the leitmotiv principle he had pioneered in his 1930s groundbreaking RKO Radio Pictures scores: King Kong, She and The Informer.  The main theme that stands for the hero Geoffrey Vickers (Errol Flynn), and by extension the British Army, is introduced in the opening scene after the Main Title music. This theme is varied according to the exigencies of the plot, martial-sounding or tender or plaintive for the more romantic moments. It contrasts strongly with the nasty slithery theme for the movie’s villain, Surat Khan.

Being the first film Steiner scored for Warner Bros, his famous fanfare for that studio is not heard (see footnote below). The score is wonderfully evocative and atmospheric: the sinuous ethnic music created for Kahn’s court musicians and menacing material for the leopard that threatens Khan. The complex harmonies, dissonances and cross-rhythms for the battle scenes sound tremendously exciting with bugle and trumpets blaring across the sound-stage as in ‘I’d Rather Hoped for Some Action’ And of course, there is the ‘Charge’ music itself, the horses’ pacings so vividly evoked, with march accelerating to canter, to gallop then to full-blooded charge. Anna Bonn, in her notes, recalls how Stromberg pushed the orchestra such that they could not believe he required to play so fast.  Most memorable perhaps is that march, sounding so glorious in ‘On to Chukoti’. Contrasting with all the bombast are Steiner’s beautiful yearning love theme for Elsa and his dazzling and romantic waltzes for the Ball scenes.

 


Max Steiner conducting the

Warner Bros Studio Orchestra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

The sumptuous 32-page accompanying booklet includes many of the film’s stills and posters plus Tennyson’s famous poem, articles about the production of the film and Steiner’s music, and a track-by-track analysis of the score. 

 

Ian Lace

Footnote

 

Ray Faiola has contributed, for MusicWeb, the following note about Steiner’s famous Warner Bros fanfare:

Steiner composed the Warner fanfare for Gold is Where You Find It.  However, the first film in which it was heard was Tovarich. Tovarich was released in December of 1937 and Gold didn't make it to theaters until February of 1938. Although Steiner did not retain the rights to the composition, Warners has used it only sporadically since Steiner's last use of it on Battle Cry in 1955.  Recent uses have included Blazing Saddles in 1974 and Time after Time in 1979. Steiner composed music for nearly a dozen Warner Bros. pictures before writing the ubiquitous fanfare.  Of the staff composers on the lot, Heinz Roemheld, Adolph Deutsch, Frederick Hollander and Howard Jackson would employ Steiner's fanfare for their scores; Korngold, Waxman and later David Buttolph would score the logos uniquely for each picture.

A fabulous, tremendously exciting album and a must for all Steiner admirers.

DISC ONE (65:28)
1. Main Title/Palace of Surat Khan 4:08
2. Dispensing with Formalities 1:45
3. A Brilliant Shot 2:59
4. Little Prema and Geoffrey :51
5. Soldiers on Parade 1:36
6. Calcutta :53
7. Perry and Elsa 1:43
8. Brothers Reunited :40
9. At the Lancers’ Ball 3:38
10. Elsa’s Waltz 4:42
11. Ballroom Waltz 1:05
12. Geoffrey Warns Perry 1:14
13. Geoffrey Bids Farewell/Trek to Buy Horses 5:13
14. “I’d Rather Hoped for Some Action!” 4:39
15. On to Chukoti 3:35
16. Prema Tries on a New Salute :24
17. Colonel Campbell Annoyed/Lady Warrenton 1:47
18. In the Garden with Perry/Convoy Returns 2:04
19. Leaving Chukoti Undefended 3:47
20. Attack of the Suristanis 3:05
21. Retreat to the Barracks 4:21
22. A Chance by Moonlight 1:28
23. Surat Khan Proposes a Truce 3:06
24. Treachery under a White Flag 2:31
25. Massacre/A Debt Is Paid 4:00
 
DISC TWO (34:54)
1. Rescue Troops to Chukoti 2:51
2. “They’re Dead! They’re All Dead!” 2:31
3. “The Finest Man I’ve Ever Known” 2:46
4. Orders to Withdraw the Light Brigade 1:18
5. Forging the Order to Advance on Balaklava Heights 3:10
6. “It’s Come at Last”/Noble Gesture 2:35
7. “Our Objective Is Surat Khan!” :51
8. The Charge of the Light Brigade 9:27
9. “For Conspicuous Gallantry” 1:04
10. End Cast :39
 
BONUS TRACKS
11. The Light Brigade Rides Again Promotional Trailer 4:37
12. Arsenic and Old Lace Original Theatrical Trailer 2:59


 


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