April 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Mrs. Henderson Presents  
Music composed and conducted by George Fenton
Additional music composed by Simon Chamberlain
Orchestrations by Simon Chamberlain, Geoffrey Alexander and John Coleman
Performed by Unnamed Ensemble
Includes songs performed by Will Young and Camille O’Sullivan
  Available on SONY/BMG (82876762662)
Running Time: 46:13
Amazon UK   Amazon US

This album of course is about the Stephen Frears’ film that celebrates that grand old English institution The Windmill (‘we never closed’), the small theatre behind London’s Piccadilly Circus, the dancing girls of which titillated the palate of so many war-weary service men through World War II and beyond – and launched the careers of so many British comedians including Jimmy Edwards and Michael Bentine.

George Fenton’s music is all of the 1940s dance band style. He reflects all the blowsy bumps and grinds of the girls’ more suggestive dance routines, but does so in the best possible taste, as one of our more recent comedians would say. There are wailing, muted trumpets and cheeky-glissando-ing trombones contrasted with palm court trio style prissiness. Fenton’s attractive score also touches nostalgic and sentimental buttons. ‘The Girl in the Fan’ adds a note of pathos and sadness while ‘Elegy’ speaks of tragedy associated with those dark days.

Added to all this are original songs by Fenton including ‘Sweet Inspiration’ sung by Camille O’Sullivan and ‘Babies of the Blitz sung by the O’Brien Sisters sounding rather like America’s famous war-years trio, The Andrews Sisters. There are also source songs, including Noel Gay singing ‘Letting in the Sunshine’ and Camille O’Sullivan singing John Mercer’s (with Matt Malneck) ‘Goody, Goody’. Then Sir Thomas Allen strikes a patriotic note with ‘The Fall of France: La Marseillaise’ in a rendition with orchestra that touches the heart and soul almost as much as Paul Henreid did with the same material in Casablanca. Will Young sings, nicely in period, a ballad associated with the Blitz, Jerome Kern’s ‘All the Things You Are’ and another Fenton song, ‘The Sails of the Windmill’ and ‘Girl in the Little Green Hat’. A much requested orchestral item on radio programmes, ‘After the Ball’ is also included

Fenton’s music speaks eloquently of laughter and tears, and his songs and the film’s source music is pure 1940s nostalgia. There’s something to suit all tastes.

Ian Lace

Rating: 4

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