Carl DAVIS (b. 1936)
Carl Davis Collection - Carl’s War
The World at War (1972) (2010 Concert Version) [5:11]
Goodnight Mr Tom (1998) (Arrival; Going Fishing; Return to London; Finale) [15:25]
Echoes That Remain (Theme; Shtetl Main Street; Pogroms I-II; Names and Saying; Spring Cemetery; Holidays I-II Remember) [16:43]
Anne Frank Remembered (Disappearance; Attic; Death of Anne Frank) (1995) [12:42]
Rhapsody on Themes from The Snow Goose (1971) [18:16]
Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Carl Davis
rec. 27-29 June 2010, Czech National Symphony Orchestra Studio, Prague

Carl Davis has distinguished himself in many musical fields. His scores for the great silent films including for Abel Gance’s Napoleon are prominent as also is that for Lon Chaney’s The Phantom of the Opera. He puts himself on the line in writing such music and has carried this off with considerable success often in live events he conducts to accompany modern day showings of these films. His work for British film music is a feature of his concerts and dates back to that mini-series of unhackneyed concerts on BBC Radio 3 in March 1995. There have also been ballets including one, A Simple Man based on the life of L.S. Lowry. He assisted Sir Paul McCartney in the production of his Liverpool Oratorio. His TV scores are numerous, are magnificently memorable and include the whoopingly ebullient one for the BBC’s much repeated Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle. It’s hinted at in the Goodnight Mr Tom music (tr. 3). Going further back I still very fondly recall his pastoral-poignant music for Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (BBC, 1972) with Alan Bates as Michael Henchard.

The World at War piece with acrid tragedy gives the sense of a great remorseless wave, bitter and with little consolation. The echoes threaded through the music are Czech and Russian. There is a complete CD dedicated to The World at War – it’s on CDC006. The four movement suite from the music for Jack Gold’s Goodnight Mr Tom is more gently wistful, at times disturbing but also rather pastoral-joyful. The music for Echoes That Remain naturally has strata of Jewish exoticism among the violence. One of the finest inventions is the Spring Cemetery movement with harp ostinato and flute descant. The final Remember is heavy with the sound-world of the Dvorák Cello Concerto leavened with just a hint of Bloch. These moods carry over into the Ann Frank Remembered suite with a Sibelian elegy as the centre of the sequence. The Death of Ann Frank is handled with great sensitivity and the music carries the redolence of the orthodox chant of Rimsky’s Russian Easter Festival. The Rhapsody on themes from The Snow Goose recalls the 36 piece orchestral score for the film featuring Jenny Agutter and Richard Harris. The invention is overwhelmingly romantic – think in terms of the best of John Barry but more so. It is gloriously done here as indeed are all the tracks.

The documentation is good.

Rob Barnett

Music that carries acrid remorseless tragedy as overwhelmingly romantic grandeur.