September 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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EDITOR’s CHOICE September 2002


Russian Film Music  
  BEL AIR BAM 2000 (Distributed by New Note)   [61:40]

Russian Film Music

Here is a wonderful collection of Russian film Music crisp, first class performances of accessible, melodic music in excellent sound. Every one of the seventeen tracks is a gem. Some of the music is well known but the majority will probably be new to many ears. Of the former, there is Prokofiev's lively and ironic 'Troika' from Lieutenant Kijé, and Shostakovich's edgy, grotesque 'Ball at the Palace' from Hamlet and the best performance I have ever heard of his celebrated 'Romance' from The Gadfly romantic, passionate. I should add here that these are idiosyncratic but thoroughly authentic-sounding Russian performances.

Of the many alluring tracks I would single out just a few for mention here. Gavrilin's 'Tarantella' from Aniuta is full of fun and high spirited swagger rather like a mix of Danny Elfman in carnival mood and commedia dell'arte atmospherics. Petrov's 'The Train' from White Bim (?), Black Ear is an exciting tango with a nice ostinato emulation of the rhythms of a speeding train. The opening Overture to Time More Forward by Sviridov is a very exciting mix of heroic brass fanfares and galloping rhythms with sardonic touches. Equally thrilling is the Liszt/Wagner-like Overture to Captain Grant's Children by Dunaevskij with a theme that sounds very familiar. The closing stirring March from Circus by Dunaevskij is a mix of Steiner and Eric Coates in bombastic mood. Between these there are some dreamily romantic cues that spellbind. Another Shostakovich score is prominent amongst these the lovely lilting 'Waltz' from Pirogov. Just as beautiful is Khrennikov's nocturne and ballet-like Adagio from Hussar's Ballad impressionistic and dreamily romantic.

I only wish the documentation was as good as the disc. But the four page booklet gives no details about the films or the composers it doesn't even give their names in full. The waffle generic notes occupying the centre spread add nothing to our knowledge and are a waste of space. But the disc itself is heartily recommended a real pleasure to the ear.

Ian Lace


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