Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Whereas last month we highlighted some spendid issues from Varèse Sarabande, this month many of our accolades go to another recording company dedicated to the genre - Silva Screen, and their associate companies including the new Irish label SCANNÁN for the terrific new MAX STEINER album "The Flame and the Arrow" and Cloud Nine for the Roy Webb Classics Album.




George and Ira GERSHWIN IN HOLLYWOOD OSTsEMI Premier soundtracks/TURNER Classic Movies Music 8 21558 2 (2 CDS) [151:34]  


This album has been in the shops for some months now but I only caught up with it very recently. It is a sumptuous collection of 40 numbers, spread over two CDs from films that included music by Gershwin (except the film version of Porgy and Bess which was suppressed after its theatrical release by the Gershwin and Heyward estates). The earliest recording, of "You've Got What Gets Me", dates back to the early 1932 RKO version of Girl Crazy and the latest is from the 1957 Paramount production of Funny Face, and Fred Astaire's incomparable and magical rendering of "He Loves And She Loves." Numbers have been restored from the films of all the major studios that embraced the Gershwins' music in sound of varying quality from the very good of MGM to the somewhat "ify" of the RKO and Samuel Goldwyn contributions. The collection starts off with a ten minute exuberant Overture, arranged by Ray Heindorf, from Warner's 1945 Rhapsody in Blue that includes a number of Gershwin hit songs. There is some invaluable archive material including extended or alternate versions of the numbers used in the films and some fascinating outtakes like the Third Prelude performed by Oscar Levant from Rhapsody in Blue and, incredibly, "Love Walked In" from the crass The Goldwyn Follies. Singing stars include: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Al Johnson (singing "Swanee"), Dick Haymes, June Allyson, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald. Besides the spirited playing of the various studio orchestras, there are numbers featuring Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra and a special highlight is the unusual inclusion of a six-minute extended version of "135th Street Blues" from "Blue Monday" which was also included in Warner's Rhapsody in Blue. The supporting 40 page CD booklet with notes written by Gershwin biographer Edward Jablonski contains a wealth of detail about not only George's career in "Tinsel Town" but also about Ira's contributions, working with other composers after his death (there are two musical examples of such collaborations: with Harry Warren - "You'd be Hard to Replace" from The Barkley's of Broadway; and Burton Lane - "In Our United State" from Give a Girl a Break) This collection is a must for all Gershwin fans.

Ian Lace

George GERSHWIN 'The Very Best of George Gershwin' 28 Gershwin Greats Various artists Decca 2CD 460 002-2 [140:35]  


The title of this compilation is clearly over-stated because the selections are from one recording company - Polygram so it is worth bearing in mind that there are equally good if not better versions available of the items in this compilation. Nevertheless, the quality of every one of the 28 selections is at the least very good, and they have the caché of being included in Greenberg's selected discography so they do form an excellent introduction to the work of Gershwin.

There is no question about the worthiness of the first CD which is devoted to the songs - many of them in classical renderings. Consider the artist line-up: Oscar Peterson playing "Strike Up the Band"; Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong with "Summertime"; Sarah Vaughan in "The Man I Love"; Fred Astaire singing "Funny Face" and Audrey Hepburn intoning "How Long Has This Been Going On?" These are just five of 17 fabulous tracks.

The second CD is devoted to orchestral music - and there are some are tantalisingly incomplete items: An American in Paris, the Second Rhapsody, Cuban Overture and the Piano Concerto in F. The compilation opens with a gutsy, vibrant Rhapsody in Blue with Ivan Davies and the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel (who also conducts An American in Paris with the same orchestra). Arthur Fiedler conducts the Boston Pops Orchestra in a Suite from Girl Crazy, the Funny Face and Oh Kay Overtures and the Second Rhapsody. Frank Chacksfield and his orchestra play an arrangement by Roland Shaw of a Suite from Porgy and Bess (but it is not nearly so effective as Richard Rodney Bennett's Symphonic Portrait). As stated above the quality is never less than very good.

 Ian Lace




Max STEINER The Flame and the Arrow and other classic film scores The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Alwyn SCANNÁN SFC1502 [60:18]  

Spencer's Mountain; The Flame and the Arrow;The Dark at the Top of the Stairs; Mildred Pierce; Ice Palace; Life With Father; Now Voyager; The FBI Story; Sergeant York; The Hanging Tree; Parrish; Johnny Belinda   

is a new name - an Irish recording company (marketing its product through Silva Screen). Its executive producer Joe Doherty, who also wrote the erudite booklet notes, should be congratulated on this wonderful, adventurous compilation bringing so many Steiner scores to their world premiere digital recordings. A number of these scores, I believe, are receiving their first commercial recordings outside the auspices of the Max Steiner Society?

The compilation opens with the main title theme from Spencer's Mountain (1963) one of Steiner's last scores but one of his most popular compositions and one of his best soaring melodies. It is good to have so many examples of the cunning way Steiner segued his arresting and monumental Warner Bros fanfare into the main title themes. The Main Title for Mildred Pierce, the 1945 vehicle for the histrionics of Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth, is a perfect example of this facility. It also demonstrates Steiner's ability to compress musical ideas suggesting a dark film noir subject, the ties between the strong and successful businesswoman mother and her wayward daughter, then the darkening events leading to murder - all in the space of just two minutes.

The Flame and the Arrow (1950) is one of the composer's most requested scores. Steiner wrote colourful, ebullient, heroic music very much in the mould of The Adventures of Don Juan. There is humour and ardent love music all in a delightful Spanish-style wrapping. From the warmth and light to the cold of the Arctic - and The Ice Palace (1960) set in Alaska. Starring Richard Burton and Robert Ryan it was about a feud between two men in the fishing industry. Besides a stirring main theme Steiner draws very convincing chilly evocations of a dog sledge race across the snowy terrain and the horrific onset of Thor's snowblindness. Particularly memorable is the hauntingly beautiful cue "Thor's recovery" in which Steiner uses harp and Indian drums in a gentle mode. It conveys a compelling ethnic impression. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is one of Steiner's most lyrical and captivating scores for what was essentially a heart-warming "rites of passage" story with a rather misleading title that refers to the heroine's son who is afraid of the dark at the top of the stairs which turns out to be a metaphor for the unknown world facing him as an adult.

The sparkling Main Title music for Life with Father ,with its quaint barber-shop quality ,contrasts with the tough battles waged against the mobs evoked for The FBI Story Main Title music; and this too is worlds apart from the tender romantic music Steiner created for Now Voyager - probably one of the composer's most famous melodies.

Sergeant York (1941) starred Gary Cooper who played the quiet farmer who became the most decorated soldier of the First World War. The delightful five minute overture contains gentle homespun, yet heroic material reflecting the essential character of Sergeant York. A favourite and much underrated Western of mine, again starring Coop, was the dark-tinged The Hanging Tree (1959) and it inspired Max Steiner to produce one of his most memorable scores for the western genre. It receives its première recording here. The writing is exceptionally intense and dramatic; the cue for the scene for the removing of the bandages from the eyes of the blinded Elizabeth (Maria Schell) is particularly affecting. The programme ends with another Steiner favourite Johnny Belinda with its soaring and meltingly beautiful Main Theme. The nine minute suite is full of warm, touching music.

I have had occasion in the past to criticise the playing of film music by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra but on this occasion they have captured very well the special sound world of Max Steiner - music that lifts the heart and spirit with its majesty and warmth and its opulent scoring that dares to be so open with its emphatic brass and strong bass ostinatos and heroic bell-peals. Fabulous

Ian Lace

James HORNER Deep Impact Music from the Film SONY  Classical/ SONY Music Soundtrax SK60690 [57:17]  


Deep Impact gives James Horner another Titanic tragedy. This time it is planet earth sailing through space to collide with a comet. Horner has clearly seen the similarities because we catch him self-quoting again and borrowing from Gustav Holst (although obliquely and subtly) and it feels as though he is cribbing from his fellow film music composers too - especially Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. I may be doing Horner an injustice when I say that this score gives the impression that he composed it on auto pilot because in addition to the recognisable Titanic figures of increasing apprehension, there are so many others that are so clichéd that they have almost become recognisable as old friends: the electronic effect that sounds like hissing, escaping steam; the "rat a tatatat" snare drum ostinatos; the heroic/stoical middle America theme - with "the-above-and-beyond-the-call of-duty" trumpet calls. I wonder did the producers insist on the inclusion of all these so that we would know what to feel as worlds collide? It really does make you wonder when most of these elements turn up in so many of today's action/catastrophe thrillers (listen to David Arnold's opening music for Godzilla for instance).

Horner's latest score shows his usual flair for atmosphere and drama and he weaves all his disparate strands together to provide music that is splendidly orchestrated and it certainly enhances the screenplay as I noticed when I caught up with the film the other day, but on this occasion there are few themes that really linger in the memory. Unusually, this album contains some very long cues for the genre - several over ten minutes - and I have to say that the material and its organisation does tend to make for rapid listener fatigue in that the few real themes we do hear are repeated with too little variety. In this case the album's length of over 77 minutes is too generous by half. Horner's music for Deep Impact is strongest when it is simplest. There is a simple and appealingly direct theme which is first heard on the piano in the first cue "A Distant Discovery"- it seems to speak of a simple almost child-like faith in the stability of the universe and the inevitability of mankind. This theme is the backbone of "The Wedding" and it distinguishes that cue and several others which are the more human manifestation of this score, cues which often carry elegiac or prayer-like motifs (an impressive brass chorale is heard towards the close of the final "Goodbye And Godspeed" cue). The action music is routine though.

Ian Lace

TITANIC - The Ultimate Collection. Orchestra conducted by Randy Miller VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-5926 [62:10]  

Selections from: James Horner: Titanic; Lennie Niehaus: Titanic (TV miniseries); Maury Yetson: Titanic (Broadway musical); Sol Kaplan: Titanic (1953 20th Century Fox film); William Alwyn: A Night to Remember  

This album clearly is aimed to cash in on the tail of the overwhelming success of James Horner's Titanic score but it is hard to imagine a real audience for it, given that so many fans will have the Horner Titanic OST CD anyway. Out of sixteen tracks, no less than eight are devoted to retreads of Titanic tracks in different dress - for instance we have Rose's Theme ("My heart will go on") as a solo piano piece and later "Rose" as might have been played by the small but dedicated group of instrumentalists as featured in the film, plus a rather rev'd up version of the "Southampton" cue etc. The album is devoted to the work of five composers all concerned with the Titanic disaster.

From the 1997 Titanic TV mini-series, there is Lennie Niehaus's music which is more restrained, more dignified than Horner's score. From the 1953 20th Century Fox film of Titanic that starred Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck we have Sol Kaplan's music which begins in heroic mould suggesting the majesty and arrogance of early 20th Century technology only to be cut short by dissonances leading into more tragic figures. Then there is William Alwyn's score for the British-made Titanic saga, entitled A Night to Remember made in 1958 with Kenneth Moore and David McCallum. Alwyn's multi-tiered Main Title music vividly evokes the depths and the roll and swell of the waves in its lower string ostinatos while stiff-upper lip British valour and steadfastness and then the ultimate tragedy is suggested by the rest of the orchestra; while the film's Epilogue is a moving elegy. On this evidence, I cannot agree that A Night to Remember is one of Alwyn's best scores. Much of Maury Yetson's music for the Broadway musical Titanic is of course in a lighter vein suggesting the glamorous life of the 1st class passengers. "The Proposal/The Night Was Alive" has those Gaelic pipes again and a sense of Irish whimsicality while "Autumn", is a nostalgic waltz for violin and piano which might be taken to suggest a passing of worlds as the great ship races towards its grim appointment. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about this CD but I feel I am being generous in awarding it

Ian Lace

Heart of the Ocean - The Film Music of James Horner Various OrchestrasSONIC IMAGES SID 8807 [69:00]  

 Music From: Titanic; The Rocketeer; Commando; Legends of the Fall; Apollo 13; Where the River Runs Black; Name of the Rose; Vibes; Wolfen; Coccoon; Field of Dreams; Braveheart; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  

This is an interesting compilation of Horner scores and it allows one to make a judgement after reading the mixed criticisms of his music that the massively successful Titanic soundtrack provoked. The most consistent criticism was of his borrowings. Indeed this collection amply proves that he actually borrows mostly from himself. Titanic borrowed from The Rocketeer and the memorable sweeping, noble melody that distinguishes Legends of the Fall turns up in a slight transposition as Coccoon.

[I have to say that I usually do not like albums of arrangements - they too frequently mean arrangements for the worst and that somebody, somewhere is out on a cost-cutting spree (a recent example was an arrangement of Waxman's Prince Valiant suite that had all the excitement drained out of it) What I like to hear (and I suspect many others do too) is exactly what we hear in the theatre played as well as possible in the best possible sound - I cannot subscribe to the view that arrangements are permissible because OSTs are available anyway - in the case of Prince Valiant, as far as I know, there isn't an OST recording. Having got that off my chest, I hasten to add that these tracks are as faithful to the originals as matters and the sound is excellent.]

Both The Rocketeer and Legends of the Fall (my favourite Horner scores) get the full heroic treatment so, too, do the Apollo 13, Braveheart and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan tracks. Vibes with its Andean pipes, thunder claps and bird calls conjures up the South American rain forests very well and this track is worth the price of the CD alone. The horror score Wolfen with its shrill cries of the wolf packs vividly suggests savagery under the moon and Where the River Runs Black has much Gaelic charm. All in all a winning compilation.

Ian Lace

Roy WEBB Music for films OSTs CLOUD NINE RECORDS CNS 5008 [73:26]  

 Notorious; The Curse of the Cat People; Journey into Fear; The Locket; Out of the Past (Build My Gallows High); Bedlam; Crossfire; Sinbad the Sailor; Dick Tracy; Mighty Joe Young; Cornered; They Won't Believe Me; The Ghost Ship.  

The inside cover of this CD booklet carries the credit "Album concept by Christopher Palmer" and at the foot of the same page there is the dedication: "This album is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Palmer (1947-1995) Film Music's greatest champion." Never a truer description! I would like to draw attention to the chapter on Roy Webb in Palmer's book, "The Composer in Hollywood" published by Marion Boyars Publishers Inc (distributed in the US by Rizzoli International Publications, New York.) Read in conjunction with this splendid compilation, it sheds light on one of the lesser known talents of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Webb wrote exclusively for RKO Radio. He began by orchestrating Rio Rita in 1929 and continued to work for the studio until its demise in the mid-fifties. He created over 300 scores. In his interesting notes, David Wishart suggests that Webb was overshadowed by the composers from rival bigger studios who had the stars and larger budgets. RKO invested in more intelligent thought-provoking, often darker film-noir stories with less popular stars although they often used stars in the making - consider for example the 1947 film, Out of the Past (or Build My Gallows High as it was known in the UK) that boasted Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer above the film title and Kirk Douglas and Rhonda Fleming below it. In writing for such story lines Webb eshewed the more opulent scores of say Max Steiner (who of course had scored King Kong while he was at RKO) and Alfred Newman in favour of a more astringent modern approach (in Crossfire and They Won't Believe Me for instance) also adopted by Miklós Rózsa for his film-noir scores. Webb's romantic music is more subtle too, not so much on the surface; the big sweeping heart-on-sleeve gesture is rarely made - perhaps this is another reason for his music being overlooked? Having said that there is much to admire as this OST compilation shows.

The music for Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) is probably Webb's best known and some would argue his best score with one of his most memorable darkly romantic themes offset with some eerily atmospheric material in keeping with the twists of the suspenseful plot in which the characters and their motives can seem to be shifting and enigmatic. There are impressive scores mixing the lyrically romantic and starkly dramatic for Orson Welles's Journey into Fear a World War II spy drama set in Turkey, and the crime drama of retribution, Out of the Past.

Webb, like his colleagues at the other Hollywood studios was asked to turn his hand to all types of screenplay. His versatility here is demonstrated in his eighteenth-century style music, again draped with shadows, for Bedlam and the exciting, sensuous music for Sinbad the Sailor which has a languid long-limbed love theme again edged by intrigue. There is an extensive ten minute suite from The Locket another sinister thriller about a mentally unstable woman (played by Larraine Day) who destroys three men; Webb's romantic music describing the woman's undoubted charms is tinged with a slinkiness, rather than genuine warmth, that is consequently vaguely disturbing. Another disturbing score is the claustrophobic mist-shrouded, creepy music for The Ghost Ship full of bleak swirling undulating string figures.

The most expansive excerpts come from the Val Lewton production of The Curse of the Cat People. Beginning with the familiar RKO Radio four-note motif over the radio mast logo, the eighteen minute two-movement suite includes, in the first movement, "Amy and Irena", homely, tender music for the relationship between the little girl Amy and her protector the benevolent ghost, Irena. There are also themes suggesting the child's world of wonder and imagination and 'friendly' ghostly music for Irena. In the second movement, for "The Old House" cue, the music plunges into sinister depths as the child is threatened by the twisted and jealous Julia Faron and her tales of a headless horseman

A valuable compilation that should be in every serious film music enthusiast's collection and very generous too at over 70 minutes playing time.

Ian Lace

Ernest GOLD It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World OST MGM/RYKO RCD 10704 [46:07]  


I have to admit a sneaking admiration for Stanley Kramer's 1963 marathon slapstick blockbuster which starred so many comic talents: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Terry-Thomas, Phil Silvers, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Dick Shawn, Joe E. Brown,The Three Stooges and Jimmy Durante. It's episodic storylines were very well coordinated by Ernest Gold's light-hearted and melodic score. This so called Deluxe edition album is a special treat because it presents the real original soundtrack music played by the 106-member Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and not the later re-recorded version that was played by a 65 member orchestra and put out on LP. The innovative packaging also includes a fold-out booklet with the original poster (but not in colour) and a portion of the CD as a ROM which carries the theatrical trailer.

The film opens on a desert highway with a line of cars. Suddenly they are overtaken by another speeding car which goes out of control and crashes over a cliff. The occupant is a gangster (Durante) who reveals, in his dying moments, the location (near San Diego close to the Mexican border in Southern California) of buried ill-gotten gains to an ill-assorted bunch of characters who then race off in small groups to claim the money for themselves. What happens to them and the other incompetents that they meet up with en route forms the hilarious events of the film. Spencer Tracy is the detective who is detailed to catch them (and find the loot) but when he becomes increasingly exasperated with his chief and his awful family he makes off with the treasure himself precipitating the climactic car chase sequence culminating in the cast being flung across a San Diego square from the top of a fire engine's extended ladder. In a fine ensemble cast there were stand-out performances from Tracy, Thomas, Silvers, Merman, Winters and Hackett.

Gold's score commences with the comic song of the title and then the exuberant and jolly main title theme which as Gold puts it "reminds one of the circus and a merry-go-round" which aptly describes the antics of these clowns and their cavortings which so often cause them to run around in ever-decreasing circles without getting anywhere. One of the most endearing cues is "Follow the leader" which away from the film would be a hit as a light music piece in the tradition of, say, Robert Farnon. It first underscores the early scene where the various groups in their vehicles set out to find the treasure after leaving the dead Durante. The cavalcade starts off slowly, sedately then the cars begin to race and the tempo of the music speeds up correspondingly then slows down again as a cop car appears and the parade slows again correspondingly. "Away We Go" has all the thrills of the early chase (starting with music evoking something more of a horse race) and it also serves as a theme and variations to characterise some of the people and situations met on the way. The plaintive "Gullible Otto Meyer" is another comic gem and so too is the later chase music, from the second half of the film, with its colourful Spanish/Mexican rhythms as the action reaches the Big W where the treasure is buried, and the mad car chases that follow the finding of the loot. The two ludicrous songs: "You Satisfy My Soul" and "Thirty-One flavours" are thrust to the heights of absurdity by the insane cavortings of Merman's prat of a son (Shawn) and his zombie-like girlfriend.

The CD also contains a few choice dialogue quotations - the one that sticks in my mind is Terry-Thomas's diatribe against America and American women as epitomised by Ethel Merman.

Although one can level the usual charge of lack of variety, this for me at any rate is a winner.

Ian Lace

Sir William WALTON Henry V 'adapted by Christopher Palmer after music from the 1944 film' Narrators: Michael Sheen and Anton Lesser; RTE Concert Orchestra/Andrew Penny NAXOS 8.553343 [53:56]  



Walton's film music caught and catches still the attention of the world. Its vivacity and colour are all-conquering. Of all his film scores the music for Olivier's Henry V stands at the zenith. It has been arranged into a suite several times: once by Muir Mathieson who conducted the soundtrack orchestra and then by Sargent. Both suites deny us much good music though each makes a fine dessert to a concert overture.

Penny and the orchestra are strong on definition and there is no doubt that this is a good performance. The music is packed with cross-references to his and other composer's scores. RVW's London Symphony is hinted at in Prologue. Embarkation leans on Elgar, Crown Imperial and Orb and Sceptre (lying a decade in the future). War in the Air (7:35 track 7) from Battle of Britain features in Agincourt and the turbulence of the first symphony elsewhere. Stanford (Songs of the Sea) sidles out of the shadows in At the Boar's Head and then he jostles elbows with Elgar very appropriate in the Falstaff references. Vivid marine impressions are too easily overlooked in Embarkation as is the subtle evocation of the armourer's clangorous work in the Night Watch. Sibelius' Kullervo Goes To War can be heard (surely an unconscious influence) at track 7. 7:01.

Having heard this music four times recently I wonder if I am alone in feeling that the music loses much of its high-burning inspiration after the touching music for the French Court. There is a certain all-purpose jollity about the Epilogue music and the finale seems dutiful rather than compellingly driven although this is a comment on the last 5 minutes of music rather than the performances.

The Naxos is bound to be compared to the Chandos CHAN8892 (Christopher Plummer, Academy of St Martin in the Fields cond Neville Marriner, 1990). There is no exact match. The Naxos is at super-bargain price; Chandos at premium. The Naxos has two actors; the Chandos one. Chandos has four additional pieces of music as an appendix to the Walton/Palmer main work. The documentation for the Chandos is very thorough and extensive and includes Christopher Palmer's generously informative notes. The Naxos has a briefer but helpful note. The Chandos has many stills from the film; the Naxos one. The Chandos choir seems bigger and a touch more sensitive to mood than the (anonymous) Naxos choir.

Despite Marriner's apparently poor showing in a Philips collection of rare British orchestral music his achievement in the Chandos Henry V is to be preferred here. There is bite, grit and magnificence aplenty and not for one moment do you suspect that his orchestra is underpowered or undermanned. The burnished glories of the ASMF horns shine in the battle scene, the strings are tender and the choir in the Chandos seems beefier. The Chandos acoustic (St Jude's, London) outshines the O'Reilly Hall, Dublin. The vulnerable and bruised beauty of the French Court interlude comes over with passionate dreaminess. Plummer's version addresses 'Kate' but these few lines are omitted from the Naxos. There are quite a few variations in text with lines and sections added and omitted in each. This seems to be left to the discretion of the actor in planning the recording or performance. Perhaps the score has something to say about this. The Auvergnat song appendices are played with succulent tone by Celia Nicklin.

A disappointment in both recordings is the absence of the climactic skittering rush and clatter of arrows: a musical effect in its own right as legitimate as the crashing rocks percussion in Jon Leifs Saga Symphony or the anvil in Bax symphony no. 3. In the film this exuberant and deadly effect is clearly marked out as the peak of the battle music. We must wait for a complete soundtrack recording without the glorious distraction of the words.

And this brings me to another point. Keith Anderson's Naxos notes speak of the Palmer scenario placing the music with the dramatic speech 'putting the music in its proper context.' The 'proper context' is the film: the music, the speech, the visuals, the sound effects all melding to create something greater than each element. When you extract the music, I am far from convinced that it is enhanced by adding back one of the other four elements. I love the histrionics of all three actors on both versions and warm especially to the high voltage Plummer though Sheen and Lesser bring a beguilingly casual intimacy to their speeches. I also noted a catch of self-surprised joy and exuberance in Sheen's voice on the words 'Old men forget'. There is much to enjoy in the performances of all these actors.

Undoubtedly the Palmer scenario makes for a concert 'event' and secures a much better chance of live performance than a concert suite of 54 minutes. However the music deserves a chance to shine in its own glorious confidence without the prop of the words. It is strong enough .... Easily!

Head to head I have no hesitation this time in recommending the Chandos if you can run to it. Let me be clear. You will not feel cheated by the Naxos which is honest and enjoyable both technically and artistically. The Naxos probably has the more natural concert hall perspective. The Chandos adds something a richness and immediacy in both sound and performance. It is for you to decide whether the advantages are worth the extra outlay. My recommendation is clear: Chandos.

Robert Barnett

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