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February 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

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

index page/ monthly listings/ February/

Music composed by Bronislau Kaper
Song: ‘Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo’ Music by Bronislau Kaper, Lyrics by Helen Deutsch
  Available on Available on Film Score Monthly Vol.8, No.15

Lili was something of a marvel in terms of its film music. Its celebrated song, ‘Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo’ (written by Bronislau Kaper himself) not only constituted its main theme but the root of the film’s screenplay sprang from the song’s lyrics. ‘Hi-Lily, Hi-lo’ pervades the film; variations on its simple form, progress the plot and underline characterisations and emotions. This album shows off all the wit and cleverness of these variations in a vivacious and colourful kaleidoscope. There is the excited hedonistic atmosphere of the carnival (including exotic Nautch dance music), Gallic material for the dog act (use of solo accordion), familiar tense magic act music, plus tea-dance and high spirited jazz figures with mickey-mouse like glissandi etc.

A mordant note is reached as a disillusioned Lili considers suicide before her friends the puppets intercede and the title song is heard in aduet by Lili (Leslie Caron) and the hidden puppet master (Mel Ferrer); then echoed plaintively by solo accordion  This material acts as a bridge passage to the remainder of the score dominated by the two ballet sequences. ‘Adoration Ballet’ in which Lili dreams she is dancing with her Marc (alas a womanising and married man) before the entry of competition in the shape of a glamorous street-wise Rosalie (unbeknown to Lili, Marc’s wife). Here Kaper uses the contrasting sweet and blowsy music he had already employed in two previous films A Life of Her Own and Forever Darling. The second dream ballet is between Lili and the life-size puppets setting off gaily down the road to an uncertain future. The music proceeds in good humour and optimism then becomes quite Ravelian and impressionistic as Lili becomes disorientated before she realises that behind the fantasy of the puppets is the reality of Paul’s love.  The impressionistic mood carries over into the ebullient End Titles as Lily rushes back to the carnival and into the arms of her Paul.

In between the two ballets there is more carnival music including a carnival version of ‘Hi Lili, Hi-Lo’ and fragments of the magic act. Some of this music becomes cruel and sardonic as Lili is chastised by a jealous and embittered Paul and then full of pathos as, dejected, Lili leaves the carnival. ‘Curtain Down’ continues this downcast mood. Kaper’s music works skilfully on multiple levels here, the title song capturing the love between Lili and the puppets and the anger and heartbreak between Paul and herself.

This album has a significant number of bonuses. – ten in all. They comprise alternative versions of tracks including the original thoughts for the Main Title with alternate instrumentation (accordion instead of flute and strings to connect it to the ‘Prologue’), alternate carnival music, the film’s glamorous trailer music, sparkling piano versions of some of the tracks and the version of ‘Hi Lily Hi-Lo’, sung by Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer including dialogue that was released on the M-G-M Records LP.  The composer himself can be heard commenting in the final bonus track which is a whistling version of ‘Hi Lilly, Hi-Lo’ 

A memorable score that truly enchants

Ian Lace


Film Score Monthly News Release:

Lili was a small and offbeat combination of genres -- romance, comedy, musical and drama -- that unexpectedly became one of the biggest hits of 1953. The film stars Leslie Caron as a homeless French orphan who joins a carnival and develops a unique relationship with an embittered puppeteer, Paul (Mel Ferrer), treating his puppets as living beings. The interaction between Lili and the puppets, and between Lili and Paul, is a unique treasure in motion picture history.

Lili was at one time considered almost unreleasable by M-G-M, but received a perfect score by Bronislau Kaper and song, ‘Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo’ (with lyrics by screenwriter Helen Deutsch) that became a pop sensation. A kind of carnival waltz, ‘Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo’ is the centerpiece of the film and score and an irresistable melody every bit as potent 50 years later. Bronislau Kaper considered Lili his favorite among his many film projects and the score deservedly won him an Academy Award.

In addition to the song, Kaper got to write two well-developed ballets for Lili (for fantasy dream sequences), blending a melodic and pop accessibility with symphonic classical development in an appropriately French style (recalling Debussy and Ravel). The balance of the score includes sensitive dramatic scoring as well as tuneful source cues for the carnival.

Lili was released on a four-track EP at the time of the film, but this CD marks the first release of the full score, including copious alternates and outtakes, in the best-possible monaural sound. Between the unforgettable song, delightful ballets, and pitch-perfect sense of mood and magic, Lili is a magnificent showpiece and a jewel in Bronislau Kaper's career.

Track Listing:
  1. Main Title/Prologue 3:33
  2. Lili Follows the Boys 1:36
  3. Dog Act Rehearsal #1/Dog Act Rehearsal #2 3:24
  4. Peach Girl/Merry-Go-Round ‘A’/Ferris Wheel/Nautch Dance/Nautch Playoff 3:27
  5. Magic Act/Dog Act/Can-Can/Ladderpole 7:30
  6. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer) 2:11
  7. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (accordion) 2:51
  8. Adoration Ballet 5:00
  9. Merry Go Round #1, #2, #3/Ferris Wheel/Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (Merry Go Round) 3:56
  10. Ring 0:52
  11. Goodbye to Marc 2:29
  12. Curtain Down/Lili Leaves Paul/Ballet (Lili and the Puppets)/Paul and Lili/End Title and Cast12:21

  13. Total Time: 49:35
Bonus Material
  1. Main Title/Prologue (original version) 3:33
  2. Dog Act Rehearsal #2 (piano pre-record) 2:11
  3. Ferris Wheel (longer version) 0:49
  4. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer, album version) 2:08
  5. Magic Act (piano pre-record) 2:30
  6. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (Merry Go Round, complete version) 1:58
  7. Trailer 2:23
  8. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer, stereo excerpt) 1:22
  9. Adoration Ballet (piano pre-record) 4:25
  10. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (whistling version) 0:54

  11. Total Time: 22:41

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