May 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Things To Come: Original Film Music Themes 1936-1945  
  Naxos Nostalgia 8.120597   [60:23]

Things to Come

Here's the sort of collection try film music aficionados can only pray will be discovered by one or two 'outsiders'. These are original recordings from 8 movies of variable success in their day. The films are immaterial though. The point of this album is to spotlight musical works that have gone on to become treasured concert hall / compilation album greats. The 'angle' of this album is in its brave presentation of the material 'as is'. Some noise reduction has been attempted, but since a lot of the music predates stereo recording, this really is the 'out of a tin box next door' sound quality many contemporary listeners shy away from. The irony there is how so often that particular breed of listener will decry film music re-recordings. Well – you can't have it both ways. This is the original way however…

The title work, Sir Arthur Bliss's hugely influential Things To Come opens the disc with the major cues from the score: "March", "Ballet for Children", "Melodrama – Attack", "Melodrama – Pestilence", "The World in Ruins", "Epilogue". Although ranging in tone, the style turns out to be a perfect precursor for all that follows. Richard Adinsell's "Warsaw Concerto"is an ideal follow-up, opening as it does in dramatic fashion on piano (prominent throughout the Bliss work). In a similar vein, is Hubert Bath's "Cornish Rhapsody"from Love Story. Although not exactly obscure, its inclusion demonstrates that the compiler has gone out their way to champion works of a particular style.

Composer Charles Williams is another element of the disc that's hardly obscure, but the collector would be hard pressed today to easily track down many of his more than 100 film scores. So it's delightful to find a few bunched together here. First is the title cue to his atmospheric thriller score for The Night Has Eyes. Then there are 2 tracks from his biggest success, While I Live. Lastly is a suite from the controversial The Way To the Stars, which is credited to the Russian Nicolas Brodszky. It has long been supposed that Williams did more than assist as he is noted as having done however…

Rounding out the track list are 2 inclusions that are not in the least obscure. Frank Churchill's Bambi is a surprising but welcome choice. The "Musical Selection"lasts just under 6 minutes, but brings back all sorts of wonderful sing-a-long memories. Lastly there's Miklós Rózsa's immortal "Spellbound Concerto"which ends things on a terrific high crescendo.

As said at the start of this review, it would be wonderful to think a few curious listeners might discover this album and thereby the nostalgic joy that can come from hearing how something was originally presented. Bravo to the Naxos compiler who made the attempt, but I fear this is destined to languish overlooked in too many 'Collections' slots at the average HMV.

Paul Tonks


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