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RECORDING OF THE MONTH

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Audrey Hepburn – A Touch of Music
Music from films starring Audrey Hepburn
Henry MANCINI (1924-1994)
Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961) [10.09]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Funny Face (1957) [12.02]
Georges AURIC (1899-1983)
Roman Holiday (1953) [1.37]
Nino ROTA (1911-1979)
War and Peace (1956) [10.43]
Bronislau KAPER (1902-1983) – Hector VILLO-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Green Mansions (1959) [8.30]
Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967)
The Nun’s Story (1959) [6.25]
Love in the Afternoon (1957) (all material never previously released) [7.32]
Dimitri TIOMKIN (1894-1979)
The Unforgiven (1960) [4.19]
Alex NORTH (1910-1991)
The Children’s Hour (1961) [6.38]
Frederick HOLLANDER (1896-1976)
Sabrina (1954) [1.53]
Material compiled in 2017 from previously released individual soundtrack albums
MILAN 399 834-2 [71.01]

Audrey Hepburn’s films of the 1950s and 1960s were made by some of Hollywood’s leading directors including: Billy Wilder, John Huston, Fred Zinnemann, William Wyler, Stanley Donen, King Vidor and Blake Edwards. And, of course, as this album proves, her films were distinguished by music from some of Hollywood’s most distinguished film music composers. For me, it is a rare delight, these days, to note the inclusion of such celebrated film music composers as: Franz Waxman, Dimitri Tiomkin, Alex North, Nino Rota and, especially welcome, Frederick Hollander whose work seems to have been so shamefully forgotten.

The album commences with a chorus’s rendering of that iconic song so often associated with Audrey Hepburn, Henry Mancini’s ‘Moon River’ from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Later tracks are devoted to more of the film’s music. We hear Audrey singing the song herself as she strums her guitar. Also heard is the equally outstanding Breakfast at Tiffany’s lovely main theme music, jazzy and bright, dreamy and romantic; here with chorus and piano solo. Also included is the wickedly witty, ironic, even sardonic ‘Moon River Cha Cha’ a cheeky, jazzy delight with some colourful rhythmic percussion and solo saxophone.

George and Ira Gershwin’s unforgettable music graces Funny Face in which Audrey was partnered by an altogether (at that point in time) too elderly-looking Fred Astaire. This is a joyous collection of songs pertinent to the screenplay but why, oh why was that delectable Gershwin song ‘How Long Has This Been Going On?’ sung so touchingly by Audrey herself not included?

George Auric’s main title music for Roman Holiday, the film that really established Audrey Hepburn, is marvellously evocative of the Eternal City. In little over 1.5 minutes Auric evokes the cultural magnificence of the City, and the regal but mischievous personality of the princess, determined to seek an incognito adventure away from the stuffiness of her Court.

Nino Rota’s music for War and Peace opens with the film’s Prelude music which includes clashing, dissonant elements of the French and Russian national anthems. Scored for chorus and orchestra this is imposing material with a grand sweep suggesting not only heroic/tragic warfare but also romance. This latter material is carried over into the light, frothy waltz music for the ballroom scene in which Audrey, as Tolstoy’s heroine Natasha, is seduced by the dashing Andrei. ‘Winter and Remembrance of Andei’ has an appropriate air of chill and desolation and poignancy as Natasha recalls her romance with Andrei now summoned (by bugle calls) to war and its resultant carnage.

Franz Waxman’s music for Love in the Afternoon is premiered here, for no recording of it has ever been released. In this Billy Wilder comedy Audrey comes up against a middle-aged roué (Gary Cooper). This most inveterate womaniser has never been tamed. Audrey succeeds by pretending to be even more determinedly anti-romantic herself. The music throughout is provided by a band, a quartet of Gypsy musicians. They provide a wry commentary on the progress of the affair between Hepburn and Cooper, playing the title music that is sardonically insincere, through to a wryly amusing hot jazz number ‘Hot Paprika’ and ultimately to the romantic song ‘Fascination’, to fascinating affect as the seducer is seduced and surrenders to love.

Green Mansions was probably the least successful of Audrey Hepburn’s films. Directed by Mel Ferrer, her husband at the time, it was set in the Venezuelan jungles. Hector Villa-Lobos was contracted to write the music but his work was inspired by the novel rather than the book and therefore the more experienced M-G-M film music composer, Bronislau Kaper was brought in to round off the score. The recording here is excellent with first class stereo imaging. The opening music underscoring the ‘Main Title, Chase and River Boat’ is most evocatively orchestrated with exotic percussion. There are clashing dissonances as jungle dangers, red in tooth and claw, are intimated. This all contrasted with and a more relaxed atmosphere for the growing attraction between the Hepburn and Perkins characters. The End Titles music speaks poignantly of tenderness but also of the natives’ tragic antagonism. Celebrated voice-over vocalist, Marni Nixon, contributes a wordless song (this is the first release of this track recording).

Franz Waxman’s music for The Nun’s Story was deservedly Oscar-nominated. The grandiose, imposing Prelude alludes to the strength and endurance of the Faith and the uncompromisingly strict demands it makes upon those called into its service. I find this Prelude quite unforgettable. Then comes the music that accompanies the scene where Audrey Hepburn, as the novitiate nun, Gabrielle, has her lovely long hair cut. This music, on a more human scale, suggests Gabrielle’s mixed feelings: regret about losing her earthly vanities and her awe in becoming a Bride of Christ. The ‘Gran Coro’ that concludes the film’s music is a magnificent classical organ solo.

The Unforgiven, not one of John Huston’s best films, was a western in which race was a major theme – Audrey playing a woman with Indian blood. Dimiti Tiomkin, well used to scoring westerns (e.g. High Noon, Red River and Duel in the Sun) provided the score. It has to be said that his inspiration here is less than in his other prairie epics. However, even second-drawer Tiomkin film music is better than that of so many others. The virile outdoor atmosphere is here and so too are his trade mark, complex cross-rhythms - and there is sweetly tender music for Audrey’s character, but…

The Children’s Hour, based on Lillian Hellman’s play concerned the nature of the friendship between two young women (played by Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine) who run a school for girls in a small provincial town. The music was by Alex North. He had a classical training at the Julliard School and at The Moscow Conservatory, and was a pupil of Aaron Copland. His scores were noted for embracing a wide spectrum of musical forms. Jazz and dissonances were often heard in his film music. (His scores included: Spartacus, Cleopatra, A Streetcar Named Desire and Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). In The Children’s Hour the dissonances are put to imaginative effect in the Main Title music that suggests the raucous, boisterous behaviour of children in the playground; North’s music, here, reminds one of Respighi’s children-at-play music from his Pines of Rome. The other excerpt – ‘Proposal’ – is more disturbing and ambiguous, relating to the viciously rumoured kind of relationship shared by the young teachers.

Finally, an all too brief selection from the first filming of Sabrina that starred Audrey Hepburn alongside Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. The joyous sophisticated Main Title music is heard first – a minute of sheer delight before Audrey sings La vie en rose as Holden, unaware that she is the daughter of his family chauffeur drives her home. By the way one should mention the rather delectable music John Williams wrote for the 1995 remake of Sabrina which, ridiculously, is too often overlooked.

So, now, what about a follow-up collection of music from Audrey Hepburn films, Milan? There is plenty of scope, lots more quality - Henry Mancini: Charade; Wait Until Dark; and Two for the Road. John Williams: How to Steal a Million and Always. Lerner & Loewe: My Fair Lady. Nelson Riddle: Paris When it Sizzles. John Barry: Robin and Marian.

Sheer delight. An old-fashioned film music collection to savour.

Ian Lace
 

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
with Ira Gershwin and extra music by Roger Edens & Leonard Gershe
Funny Face (1957 Paramount film from 1927 Broadway stage musical)
Overture [3.52]; Funny Face (Fred Astaire); S’Wonderful (chorus); Think Pink (Kay Thompson); Bonjour Paris (Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire) [6.05]; S’Wonderful (Audrey and Fred) [2.05]
Georges AURIC (1899-1983)
Roman Holiday (1953 - Paramount) with Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn and Eddie Albert
Main Title [1.37]
Nino ROTA (1911-1979)
War and Peace (1956 Paramount film based on Tolstoy’s novel) with Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer
Prelude [4.43]; Natasha’s Waltz [1.35]; Winter and Remembrance of Andrei [4.05]
Bronislau KAPER (1902-1983) – Hector VILLO-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Green Mansions (1959 M-G-M film) starring Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins
Main Title/Chase/River Boat [5.26]; End Titles with Marni Nixon (vocal) [3.04]
Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967)
The Nun’s Story (1959 Warner Bros film) based on Kathryn Hulme’s novel starred Audrey Hepburn with Peter Finch
Prelude and Credo [2.39]; Haircutting and Gran Coro [3.46]
Love in the Afternoon (1957) A Billy Wilder produced and directed romantic comedy with Gary Cooper opposite Audrey Hepburn
Love in the Afternoon [2.58]; Hot Paprika [1.43]; Fascination [2.51]
Dimitri TIOMKIN (1894-1979)
The Unforgiven 1960 western, directed by John Huston, that co-starred Burt Lancaster
Prologue [1.56]; Main Title [3.23]
Alex NORTH (1910-1991)
The Children’s Hour (1961 drama, based on Lillian Hellman’s play, produced and directed by William Wyler)
Main Title [1.38]; Proposal [5.00]
Henry MANCINI (1924-1994)
Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961 Paramount romantic comedy) that also starred George Peppard and Patricia Neal
Breakfast at Tiffany’s [2.47]; Moon River (Audrey Hepburn vocalist) [2.04]; Moon River Cha Cha [2.35]
Frederick HOLLANDER (1896-1976)
Sabrina (1954 Paramount romantic comedy produced and directed by Billy Wilder that co-starred Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.
Main Title [1.05]; La Vie en rose Audrey Hepburn (vocal)

 

 




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