This new album follows similar releases of Addinsell’s music from ASV (CD WHL 2115) that included film music from: Scrooge, Blithe Spirit, The Passionate Friends, and Gaslight; and a more general Addinsell music collection in Marco Polo’s British Light Music Series (8.223732) that included: Goodbye Mr Chips, A Tale of Two Cities, Fire Over England, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and The Prince and the Showgirl. This new album, recorded in Chandos’s excellent sound, boasts many new premiere recordings.
I am of the generation (just) who saw Dangerous Moonlight when it first appeared in the cinemas. I remember being taken to see the film as a child and witnessing the immense impact of its Warsaw Concerto in those days. It was heard all the time on radio request programmes, so much so that it became utterly over-performed and much disparaged. Since then, of course, it has been recorded many, many times. And so it has been extremely difficult for me to listen dispassionately to this admittedly excellent, spirited, romantic performance. It would be interesting to learn what impressions this work has on younger listeners who haven’t been over-exposed to its Rachmaninov-like charms. As Philip Lane comments in his excellent booklet notes, the Rachmaninov resemblance was deliberate for Addinsell and his collaborator Roy Douglas surrounded themselves with Rachmaninov scores when working on this screen concerto.
Derivative again, is the Suite from Scrooge but it nicely combines carol and folk song elements with sugary music-box sentimentalities and opposing sourly dark material for the pre-redeemed Scrooge, and as such was extremely successful married to the screenplay.
There are more examples of derivative music. Addinsell’s music for Tom Brown’s Schooldays is very reminiscent of Eric Coates, especially that composer’s Merrymakers Overture. The other schooldays Suite from the wonderful Robert Donat film version of Goodbye Mr Chips, is much stronger with a heartfelt main theme and stirring School Song, performed here with great swagger and affection. This is the stand-out track on this album.
Of the more ‘atmospheric’ tracks the delicate oriental figures of ‘In the Empress’s Palace’ (from The Black Rose Suite that also includes the lovely sweepingly romantic Title Theme, another highlight of this album) impressed more than the mists of ‘In the Mountains’ (from Goodbye Mr Chips).
Probably the most compelling score here is Addinsell’s affecting Love on the Dole music with another attractive heartfelt theme as its Main Title. Pathos and crushed innocence in hard times is beautifully caught in ‘Courting Couples’ while the joyful almost desperate release of a ‘Blackpool Outing’ is palpable, the dance band music that rounds off this track has just that right touch of dejection.
Blithe Spirit was another hit for Addinsell, again slightly reminiscent of Eric Coates but so gorgeously bubbly and beautifully ironic and sardonic. Listen to Madam Arcarti’s bicycle music, for instance, its all there sharp comic characterisation as well as a nicely observed evocation of her pedalling. The Waltz is another comic masterpiece, underlining the capricious nature of the ghost, Elvira. Here I should pay tribute to the sensitivity and skill of Philip Lane in his many reconstructions for this collection.
The remaining tracks are less successful. The music is amiable and pleasant but not particularly memorable. The Admirable Crichton and Out of the Clouds material is little more than basic working on well worn waltz and polka figure for the former and tango elements for the latter.
Another valuable Addinsell film music collection that includes a mix of inspired and rather blithe music.
Gary Dalkin adds:-
There is really little to say in addition to Ian's comments. This album really does represent the epitome of a certain sort of now very old fashioned, grandiose, dignified and sentimental British film music. As attractive to followers of mid-20th century light music as Golden Age film music, this generously filled, expertly recorded disc will afford much pleasure. It is ironic that now, in an era of mediocre soundtracks given superlative sound recording we can at last hear such richly crafted film writing in sound infinitely superior to that available at the time the films were made. Would that the actual original films could sound this good. A must for all serious devotees of traditionally crafted film music.