September 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /Sept01/

In A Monastery Garden. In a Chinese Garden. Sanctuary of the Heart. Will You Forgive me? Chad Romano - A Gypsy Overture. By the Blue Hawaiian Waters. The Phantom Melody. In the Moonlight. The Clock and the Dresden Figures. Sanctuary of the Heart etc . Orchestras and artists conducted by the composer. Historic recordings 1924-1932. NAXOS 8.110174 [59:02]



Here is some of the first original film music, written for accompanying action the silent screen. It is unashamedly unrestrained and sentimental and melodramatic. Albert Ketèlbey acknowledged a growing need for mood music to accompany the flickering images and he responded by writing accessible atmospheric and dramatic mood music that was within the grasp of the average cinema pianists. Such pieces like the colourful In a Chinese Temple Garden, the exciting rhythms and the storm-clouded By Blue Hawaiian Waters (still, to the best of my knowledge not available on a modern recording) and the romantic gypsy melodramatics of Chal Romano must have thrilled our great-grandparents.

These historic recordings dating from 1924 to 1932 have great charm. The performances have that exciting bravura and portmanteau expressions complete with those sentimental slurs we associate with that period - take the romantic and sweetly sentimental In the Moonlight for instance. The great Australian bass/baritone, Peter Dawson sings Ketèlbey's most famous composition, In a Monastery Garden, and that other famous "heart-string-puller," Sanctuary of the Heart, is given the full OTT treatment by the composer's concert orchestra conducted by Ketèlbey and an unknown, unbilled contralto displaying all the full-blown mannerisms of the period. Another tear-jerker ballad is the OTT melodramatic Will You Forgive? with warbling tenor Arthur Jordan in terribly contrite mood. Albert Sandler (of Palm Court Orchestra fame) plays Ketèlbey's first big hit, The Phantom Melody with the composer at the piano. One of the most charming pieces features is The Clock and the Dresden Figures with its enchanting melody and clock-like figures. Two other pieces that are relatively unknown today are: the evocative Three Fanciful Sketches ("A Passing Storm Cloud on a Summer's Day"; "The Ploughman Homeward Plods His Weary Way"; and "Quips and Cranks and Wanton Wiles".)

Lots of period charm and a good wallow perfectly attuned to the world of the silents.

Ian Lace

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