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February 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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The Glass Slipper  
Music composed by Bronislau Kaper
Conducted by Miklos Rozsa
  Available on Available on Film Score Monthly Vol.8, No.19
Running Time:
Disc One: 71:10
Disc Two:  59:59

Once upon a time, in a fabled kingdom far, far away named Hollywoodland, some kindly wizards produced films of family fare – fairy stories and moral tales to be innocently enjoyed by one and all.  Then one day a darkness fell upon the realm as malevolent be-suited and be-ponytailed hobgoblins descended upon Hollywoodland to stir grim potions of cinematic sex and violence.  The delectable films of yore and their delightful musical scores were expelled, locked away in vaults destined never to see the glorious light of day again as an era of seedy cinematic excess and incoherently rapid editing descended upon filmland.   Oh woe.

But then magically there appeared, out of the west, some benevolent elves intent on redressing the sorry wrongs and despicable acts perpetrated by the hobgoblins and their shadowy minions.   And the elves possessed the golden key to the venerated vaults, and lo they flung open the doors to the princely filmic treasures that the troll-like invaders of Hollywoodland had incarcerated for so long a time - and a myriad of enchanting films, and the luxuriant sound of agreeable movie music, once cruelly banned for an age, flowed richly forth across the impoverished cultural landscape to revitalise the artistic flora and fauna and the jaded sensibilities of elder movie buffs and veteran film music aficionados.  There was merriment in the taverns and dancing in the streets.

The Glass Slipper, expensively produced by MGM and released in 1955 was a scrumptious recounting of the tale of Cinderella with the delectable Leslie Caron as the initially luckless Cinders and suave Britisher Michael Wilding as her handsome prince.   The production was obviously mounted in the wake of the success of the delightful Lili, just two years before, and happily reunited that film’s star, writer, director, and composer - with the music for Lili, of course, created by the Polish-born Bronislau Kaper.  But sadly, despite prestigious production values and some captivating allure, The Glass Slipper was not to emulate the triumph of Lili, and its cosy, innocent charm was relegated down through the years to late night television screenings and then seemingly to an almost cruelly imposed commercial oblivion.  The Glass Slipper had slipped into underserved obscurity.

But as with Lili, and the captivating ‘Hi Lili Hi-Lo’ composer Kaper had fashioned a winning song for The Glass Slipper, ‘Take My Love’, and also like Lili, the new film featured ballet sequences, and was scored with an abundance of outstanding ‘dramatic’ cues as well.  In short, this was a humdinger of a Hollywood musical extravaganza.   But oh, one cruelly locked away for fifty years … until now that is.  If the metaphorical flood gates have opened in respect of the music to The Glass Slipper then we are truly being deluged – a two CD set comprising over seventy minutes of score, more than fifty minutes of alterative scoring, plus numerous outtakes – and to top it all, twenty-two seconds of Kaper conferring with conductor Miklos Rozsa in some crosstalk at the original sessions.   Pinch me!  Is it Christmas?

This font of marvellous music finally gushes forth to astound and delight.  Here we have elaborate music writ large on a lustrous symphonic canvass.   Period is deftly delineated, intimations of the baroque abound, and regal fanfares sing of palaces and courtiers and kings – how Miklos Rozsa must have revelled in conducting this cornucopia!  Much of the scoring is also bucolic, fields and hedgerows and uncomplicated country life etched via a wonderfully vibrant rural musical palette.   But forever peeping through the orchestral ceremony and rustic bliss is the winsome love theme, ‘Take My Love’, often as captivatingly trilling as birdsong, a delightful invention which was nicely served by a number of commercial recordings during the Fifties.  The score is also immeasurably descriptive, with inspired orchestration throughout, but the emphasis is on individual instruments bringing their own individual demeanour to bear.  How stimulating to hear what is essentially a poem to select instrumental versatility.   This music adroitly conjures another time, another place, and an innocence of outlook unsullied by the hideous gorgons of realism, brutality and physical excess which would later besmirch the movies forever.  This is justly music from a different age, a time of gloriously unabashed symphonic revelry.

The refined and sumptuous score for The Glass Slipper evokes a golden age of movie-making and celebrates an era of composition for film where the symphonic sound could be delicately hued, wrapped about in yielding instrumental ermine and appear as dapper as a top hat at Ascot.   And whilst the simple tale of Cinderella does not possess quite the enticing schoolboy allure of an historical action adventure romp like Quentin Durward – all swords drawn and demonstrative musical thrust and parry -  this generous two disc set attests to one of Hollywood’s most masterful scores – and accomplished composers – both until recently almost lost to posterity in the unseemly haste to deify the new and the now at the expense of the old and the fine and the trusted and the true.

But a word about the recorded sound.  Was this music really recorded during 1954?  The opulent clarity of the spectacular stereo image is staggering!  This music could have been recorded last week!   Well OK, perhaps the week before last.  A tribute to the technique of the original engineers and the new mastering processes undertaken by FSM.   If these two discs came in a plain brown wrapper it would be more than enough, two birthdays, a free pass to Disneyland and an anniversary rolled into one, but no, we also gain a magnificently illustrated twelve-page booklet, with informative background notes on the film and the score and an invaluable track by track analysis of the plot and music by Lukas Kendall.  An album to treasure.  And I only had to hang about for fifty years to get it!   And believe me, that wait was worth it!

David Wishart

5

Film Score Monthly News Release:

The Glass Slipper (1955) was a live-action version of the Cinderella tale which M-G-M produced following their successful Lili (1953). Both films were a kind of quasi-musical starring Leslie Caron as a forlorn innocent, and were made by much of the same creative team, including composer Bronislau Kaper and screenwriter/lyricist Helen Deutsch.

Kaper and Deutsch had collaborated on the popular song ‘Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo’ for Lili, and reteamed for a romantic ballad for The Glass Slipper, ‘Take My Love’ -- an infectious waltz anchoring the film and score. Like Lili, The Glass Slipper features music as a major component: in addition to the song, there are two lengthy ballets and a third dream sequence significantly carried by music.

The Glass Slipper relied even more on Kaper's music than Lili, with Kaper providing not only the love theme and ballets, but large-scale symphonic music for the royal palace, and a heartfelt, melancholy theme for the main character. Kaper loved this type of scoring in which music played a foreground element, and he colorfully evoked the film's fairy-tale world of 18th century Europe.

Much of The Glass Slipper's score was revised during post-production, resulting in several versions of many cues -- including the ballets -- being recorded. FSM's premiere release of the original soundtrack features the complete score as it is heard in the film, followed by additional and alternate versions on a bonus disc -- much as we presented Kaper's magnificent score for the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty (FSMCD Vol. 7, No. 16).

The entire soundtrack has been remixed from the original 35mm three-track stereo recordings, as conducted for the film by Miklos Rozsa (a little-known fact).

Track Listing:

DISC ONE:
  1. Main Title/Rich Old Duke 2:39
  2. Ella Picks Up Ball/Parade 4:12
  3. I Don't Care/Her Own Place 2:03
  4. Tell Me Now 1:31
  5. Pantomic Ballet 4:06
  6. Woodland 4:00
  7. Spies/Cousin Loulou 1:58
  8. Allow Me 2:58
  9. Charles Alone and First Kiss/Take My Love 3:27
  10. Kitchen Ballet 11:06
  11. Preparation for Ball/Off to the Ball 3:02
  12. Ella Dressing/There's Your Coach/Jugglers 6:04
  13. Polonaise/First Minuet 1:24
  14. Polka Nimm Sie Hin (Johann Strauss Jr.)/Second Minuet 3:10
  15. Waltz 2:13
  16. Chase/Village Gossip 2:12
  17. Ella Packs/Tehara Ballet/Goodbye/End Title and Cast 14:23


  18. Total Time: 71:10

DISC TWO:
    Alternate Score:
  1. Ending to Palace (revised alternate) 2:02
  2. Ella Picks Up Ball 2:35
  3. Pantomic Ballet 4:52
  4. Take My Love (clavichord) 1:53
  5. Kitchen Ballet 13:26
  6. After the Dream (Daniele Amfitheatrof) 1:24
  7. Preparation for Ball/Off to the Ball 3:35
  8. Polka Nimm Sie Hin (Johann Strauss Jr.) 0:55
  9. Ella Packs/Goodbye/Tehara Ballet/End Title and Cast 21:08


  10. Total Time: 52:09

    Outtakes
  11. Outtakes Medley 1:05
  12. Tehara Ballet Conclusion/End Title and Cast 5:28
  13. Take My Love (vocal fragments) 0:38
  14. Bronislau Kaper and Miklos Rozsa Crosstalk 0:22


  15. Total Time: 7:45

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