Continuing worthwhile efforts to issue unavailable Rózsa scores as part of their well-regarded limited pressing series, Film Score Monthly have this month unexpectedly-released the wonderful Plymouth Adventure. This, an enjoyable companion to recent albums, should be acknowledged as a pivotal score in the venerated composerís repertoire and one that is oft-overlooked when considered against the backdrop of his output during the 1950ís.
Clarence Brownís once sumptuous, yet flawed film tells the story of the Seventeenth century voyage of the Pilgrim forefathers from England to the New World of, what would become, the United States of America. A substantial budget and fine assembled cast, featuring a sterling performance by screen-drunkard Spencer Tracey alongside the ill-fated Gene Tierney, ensured that the well-researched production would be safe in the hands of a composer who understood the filmís many nuances.
Assembled here, then, is one of the composerís finest screen efforts. Drawing from contemporaneous musical literature of the Pilgrims' time, notably a cherished Psalter printed over a century before such men and womenfolk traversed the Atlantic seeking a new life, Rózsa constructed a score built around a plethora of pastiche themes and two chorales, performed by a forty-strong choir. Respectful overtones of grandeur alongside emotional capitulation play as much a large part here as they do throughout the course of Rózsaís many other scores. A key example of his musical command, which should seek to re-affirm this as a recommended purchase, can be found in "The Mayflower". As the great ship sets sail, a flourish of intense string tremolandi and resplendent brass figurations gush forth and itís only after the fact, as you catch your breath that you realise how inspirational this cue has been to latter-day film composers.
There are many shades of what was to come for Miklós Rózsa following the release of this film, particularly in 1953ís Young Bess, and itís evident from listening to the album devoid of the film that Rózsa was really Ďpushing the barí at this point in his career.
My only criticism of the album is that had less material been included the album would have made more of a coherent listening experience. Dare I suggest that people trim the length of their playlists, but conversely, I can see the need to preserve such an artistic treasure as best as possible and will try not to grumble too much. Indeed, on a more positive note, Doug Schwartz has done a great mastering job with this disc and should be warmly congratulated.
Plymouth Adventure stands as a worthy addition to the Hungarianís prolific output and is a must purchase from the Film Score Monthly catalogue.