December 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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EDITOR’s CHOICE December 2002


Victor YOUNG
  FILM SCORE MONTHLY Vol. 5 No. 13   [62:28]
Available from Film Score Monthly, 8503 Wa:28hington Boulevard, Culver City, CA90232; Tel: 1-888-345-6335; overseas: 310-253-9595; fax: 310-253-9588; e-mail:


I will make no bones about it; Victor Young's music for M-G-M's 1952 swashbuckler, Scaramouche, is one of my favourite scores and at last it's here in full after we have had to be content with the excerpts on the splendid 1995 Marco Polo album, 'Captain Blood' - 8.223607

Victor Young's opening Main Titles set the mood with an exciting, nay breathtaking theme very reminiscent of Richard Strauss in Don Juan mode. This score is classical Late Romantic excitement and romance with a vengeance. Young blends pastiches of delicate, courtly Pavanes for Aline (Janet Leigh) in her dancing classes with thrilling music for the duels and chases, and darkly menacing figures for the arrogant, cold-hearted Marquis de Maynes. There is affecting tragic material for the death of André's friend Philippe (Richard Anderson) and a noble motif for André's (Stewart Granger) pledge of vengeance. Some of the action material is written in tongue-in-cheek tribute to earlier silent film scores and music used later in serials. There is a gorgeous romantic theme for Lenore (Eleanor Parker) - a lovely elegant waltz. Another sumptuous love theme underscores the romance between André and Aline. Both of these love themes are delivered with engaging rubati and portamenti that only the less romantic might think too saccharine. Victor Young had no peers when it came to penning luscious romantic tunes like these. Even more impressive are the comic themes for the hero André Moreau in his disguise as the commedia dell'arte character, 'Scaramouche'. The theatrical troupe's poignant and funny Renaissance-style stage music includes the characterful 'Pierrot and Pierrette' delightfully scored for flute with harp accompaniment. 'The Big Apple', another charming cue for the comic theatricals, involves music for an exploding apple while 'Magic Box' is an even more memorable tongue-in-cheek, knock-about comic balletic exchange between Scaramouche and Leonore that mixes the lyrically romantic with the absurd both cues utilise many jolly, perky effects.

The album includes the usual bonuses in the form of seven tracks four alternative cues including original versions of 'Big Apple' and 'Magic Box', a longer version of the beautiful languid Fauré-like 'Pavanes, and unused theatre source music for the climactic performance in Paris. One delightful but brief stereo track is included in the bonus section for the romance between Lenore and Scaramouche.

As usual the CD is accompanied with a sumptuously illustrated 16-page booklet with background notes about the film and Victor Young's career as well as full track-by-track analysis.

A wonderful score brimming with memorable themes. If I were restricted to buying only one film music CD this year this would have to be it. Unhesitatingly recommended.

Ian Lace


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