This interesting compilation covers the work of less celebrated
British film composers. Some of the pieces have theatre/ballet connotations
hence presumably the interest of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
Covering the Eric Rogers work first which is the most substantial
on this CD (approx. 24 minutes) - Rogers is best remembered for his music for
the British Carry On series of broad comedies. His Palladium Symphony,
ostensibly influenced by the variety theatre (it was dedicated to his wife Betty
who was a dancer) it might also be regarded as a brilliant parody of Hollywood
film music. It’s opening movement ‘Rhapsody’ opens with the sort of sweeping
music one associated with Max Steiner in full romantic flow continuing with
Mickey-Mouse material that might have been used for some slapstick routine.
‘Spring-time’, the second movement, has lush Korngold/ Steiner extravagance
and the Scherzo is almost laughing, set to music influenced perhaps inspired
by Korngold buffoonery or Ealing comedy music. The ‘Finale’ conjures up memories
of the sort of towering dramatic scores Max Steiner created for Bette Davis’s
pictures. Great fun.
However, the programme kicks off with Clifton Parker’s Thieves
Carnival, a cocky, cheeky piece reminiscent of Constant Lambert. Two bright
castanet-filled, Latin pieces, by Parker, follow: ‘Alla spagnola’ is perky and
sexy while the less frenetic ‘Alla cuba’ has Ravelian echoes is more wistful
and tender. Parker’s film score credits include: The Blue Lagoon
(1948); Treasure Island (1949); The Wooden Horse (1950) and Sink
the Bismark (1959).
Leighton Lucas was a largely self-taught composer and initially
a ballet dancer. He was part of Louis Levy’s ‘school’ at Gainsborough before
branching out on his own with films like Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950)
and a number of war epics like The Dam Busters (1954) and Ice
Cold in Alex (1958). His Ballet de la Reine is a suite taken from
sketches for an unperformed ballet, composed in 1949, and intended for the Edinburgh
Ballet Club. The composer retains a 16th century flavour to the dances,
many of the melodies being paraphrases of Dowland and other lutenists of the
period while still retaining originality. As Philip Lane says in his valuable
notes, this music is a gentle mix of Warlock’s Capriol Suite and Ravel’s
Tombeau de Couperin. The suite commences in majesty with ‘Entrée
et pavan’. ‘Air de luth’ is a delicious confection with beguiling material for
harp and oboe. ‘Courante’ is serenely pastoral, a gentle rustic dance ending
in a sigh. ‘Tordion’ is a softly lilting enchantment and ‘Sarabande’ a stately
deeply felt progression (very much ‘period Gainsborough’ film music this movement).
Finally ending in upbeat merriment, ‘Bransles’ is a dance with Gaelic overtones.
Sutherland and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia give a lusty reading
of Anthony Collins’ very stirring ‘Battle March’ that forms the first movement
Eire Suite. The lovely Reverie that follows recalls, in sentimental nostalgic
mood, the misty Mountains of Mourne – in a gorgeous arrangement of the famous
Irish melody. And it is another arrangement of another well-known Irish tune,
the jolly ‘Phil the Fluter’s Ball’ that rounds off the suite.
Anthony Collins recorded a wonderful set of Sibelius symphonies
for Decca and wrote some memorable light music miniatures like Vanity Fair.
His film music credits include: Victoria the Great (1937), Nurse Edith
Cavell (AAN 1939), Irene (AAN 1940), Tom Brown’s
Schooldays (1940) and The Lady with the Lamp (1951).
Like Eric Rogers, Bruce Montgomery was associated with the
Carry On series. His Scottish Aubade and Scottish Lullaby
are concert works derived from two films, a documentary, Scottish Highlands
(1952) and The Kidnappers (1953) set in Nova Scotia. The Aubade
is nicely evocative and lyrical with material of shimmering beauty and suggestive
of dramatic vistas. The Lullaby is frolicsome and sentimental.
Delightful light music by less celebrated British film composers.