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Great Classic Film Music - Volume II
Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra/Iain Sutherland
Original studio and live recordings, 1988-89 and 1994-95, from the Iain Sutherland/Radio Clyde Archive/NOS Archive. AAD.
Reviewed as 24/96 press preview.
SOMM ARIADNE 5009 [74:03]

Volume I of this series was released in June 2019 on ARIADNE5006. We seem to have missed it then, but you can catch up with it, as I did, via Naxos Music Library.

Both volumes contain a wealth and variety of screen music, performed by an orchestra conducted by an acknowledged master of crossover in general and film music in particular. Iain Sutherland made regular appearances on the popular BBC Radio 2 programme Friday Night is Music Night. I suspect that the clientele at whom this is aimed – many of them will have been devotees of the programme – will already be looking out for it and will need no urging from me to buy it. It’s taken longer to include all the details of the music at the end of this review than for me to say how much I enjoyed both it and its predecessor.

The Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra, like the Sinfonia of London, was a pseudonymn for an orchestra made up of some of the best London musicians working around their contractual obligations; they appeared in a wide range of music, mainly light classical – recording his own music with Eric Coates in 1954, for example – but they also made several recordings with Sir Adrian Boult for Nixa and Westminster. The Sinfonia of London has recently been revived under the aegis of John Wilson; they are playing even better than ever.

John Wilson is the only current conductor of Iain Sutherland’s stature in this repertoire, and his film music contributions have been mainly confined to musicals (That’s Entertainment, Warner 0288452). More recently he’s been turning his attention to the more serious music of Korngold, to Respighi and Coates – Volume 2 of the latter is as excellent as the first (CHAN20148, due in October 2020 – review pending).

Chandos have a good collection of the film music of individual composers in their catalogue, mostly conducted by Rumon Gamba. Attractive as these are, and appealing to film buffs, who can have a field day with the USB set (CHUSB0020, contents of 29 CDs), I suspect that many more potential listeners will be attracted to these two Somm Ariadne releases. I imagine that the Chandos albums of Korngold (CHAN10336 and 10438) and Miklós Rózsa (CHAN10806) will appeal the most as follow-up recommendations after the Somm Ariadne recordings, the Shostakovich less so (CHAN10023, 10183 and 10361). Certainly, I enjoyed all the volumes of the Chandos series that I have heard – that’s most of them – but I’ve also enjoyed hearing these two reminders of Iain Sutherland in this music.

It’s not all just razzmatazz; the ‘Elvira Madigan’, the solo played by Harry Rijke, is really too slurpy, so that anyone who tries the real Mozart Piano Concerto No.21 is hardly likely to recognise the work, but that’s a rare miscalculation. The Walton Shakespeare music on both volumes, on the other hand, may tempt the more adventurous to try the two Chandos albums on which Sir John Gielgud and the Academy of St Martins and Neville Marriner present a Richard III scenario (CHAN10435X, mid-price), while Christopher Plummer and the same musicians do the same for Henry V (CHAN10437X, mid-price – review).

Sutherland plays the Richard III Prelude in particular with the sort of gravitas that it deserves – effectively, it’s a third Coronation March to match those Walton composed for George VI and Elizabeth II. The Death of Falstaff on the other hand, from the Henry V music, is suitably sentimental. After that and ‘Touch her soft lips and part’, also sentimental in the right way, we need to be sent off with a rousing tune – what better than the Lawrence of Arabia music which closes Volume II?

Many of the performances on both these Somm albums were recorded live, but the quality of both live and studio sound is very good in these transfers. I heard Volume I from Naxos Classical Library, Volume II as a 24/96 preview; the CDs lie between those two in sound quality. I commend them both, but I can’t tell you which to try first. Is there any more?

Brian Wilson

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Main Title* [3:39]
John BARRY arr. Iain Sutherland
You Only Live Twice: Main Title [2:50]
Back to the Future: Main Title*[ 3:34]
The Mission: Gabriel’s Oboe [4:00]
Lalo SCHIFRIN arr. Iain Sutherland
The Eagle Has Landed: Main Title [3:05]
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD
The Sea Hawk: Main Titles and Love Theme [4:46]
Cole PORTER arr. John Lanchbery
Evil Under the Sun: Title Music [6:08]
Funny Face: Overture* [5:48]
Burton LANE
Finian’s Rainbow: Prelude (Main Title)* [6:25]
Robert STOLZ arr. Charles Previn
Spring Parade: March* [2:14]
Kurt WEILL arr. Iain Sutherland
September Affair: September Song* [4:43]
Benjamin FRANKEL
So Long at the Fair: Carrriage and Pair [2:46]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Elvira Madigan: Piano Concerto No.21 in C – Andante [7:21]
William WALTON
Richard III: Prelude* [7:08]
Henry V: Passacaglia/Death of Falstaff [2:42]
‘Touch her soft lips and part’ [1:42]
Maurice JARRE
Lawrence of Arabia: Main themes* [4:00]
Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra/Iain Sutherland
Original studio and live* recordings, 1988-89 and 1994-95, from the Iain Sutherland/Radio Clyde Archive/NOS Archive
SOMM ARIADNE 5009 [74:03]

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