Doreen CARWITHEN (1922-2003)
Men of Sherwood Forest - overture (1954) [4:16]
Boys in Brown - suite (1949) [9:13]
To the Public Danger - Prelude and Apotheosis (1948) [3:24]
East Anglian Holiday (1954) [15:32]
Mantrap - suite (1953) [13:35]
Three Cases of Murder - suite (1953) [12:35]
Travel Royal - suite (1952) [8:41]
BBC Concert Orchestra/Gavin Sutherland
rec. Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London, 29-30 Nov 2010.
world premiere recordings
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7266 [61:31]

Doreen Carwithen has two fine CDs on Chandos presenting her chamber works (CHAN9596) and the concert orchestral music (CHAN9524).

This disc is more than ably annotated by Alwyn authority Andrew Knowles and his notes run to ten pages - English only. It furnishes collectors with just over an hour's slice of Carwithen's film music. She was one of the host of composers who stoked the musical boilers of the British film industry in the late 1940s and into the 1950s.

The Sherwood Forest overture is fluently regal with pastoral interludes. The music for the Boys in Brown is tense and bright-eyed yet not overly ‘psychological’. To the Public Danger is a short-angst ridden piece of surging panic. It has an athleticism that shouts Constant Lambert. East Anglian Holiday was a score written for British Transport Films. It is, as expected, a sighingly pastoral piece with many homely touches including church bells. It is, as Knowles writes, a continuous pastoral tone-poem running to approaching 16 minutes. The writing is undemandingly smooth in an idiom not far removed from Vaughan Williams In the Fen Country or Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1 or Butterworth in the English Idylls.

With the Mantrap suite we return to the pressurised psychological style. It is associated with a plot that entails an allegedly insane murderer who escapes from his asylum with a view to proving his innocence. There is some countryside poesy coming as remission from all this angst. That said, jaggedly torturous emotions - usually voiced by the trumpets - are never that far distant. Three Cases of Murder was a 1953 film which tells three murder stories one after the other. The music tracks through a big ‘main titles’ violin theme seguing into rage and then tension. The last movement Reception at the Connemaras put me in mind of the stately ball room music by Bernard Herrmann for The Magnificent Ambersons except that this is specifically in the English country house aristocratic manner. The last score represented is the single-tracked Travel Royal suite. This nine minute continuous piece is masterfully broad. It was written for BOAC and radiates 1950s confidence. The sumptuous score blends in Oranges and Lemons, Greensleeves and John Peel for this travelogue.

There's some really fine music here, low on challenge but high on confidence or 1950s super-complacency.

Rob Barnett

Some really fine cinema music here high on sumptuous 1950s confidence.