Once you are reconciled to a CD running 33:51 you can relax in the opalescent
light of this classily romantic pastoral score. This is not Williams the
heroic comic-book dramatist but the painter of subtle water-colour shades.
Most of the tracks fall easily into two categories: eerie and breezily romantic.
The Mozartian string quartet depicting Festivity at Thornfield is
the one exception.
The nightmare tracks are neatly represented by the mists of Lowood
reminiscent of the Cornish Dances (Malcolm Arnold). This and other
tracks explore Schoenbergian territory. Grace Poole is all batwings
and net curtains blowing out gently in the whispering night-wind. The
Thwarted Wedding resounds to material influenced by the bird-shrieks
of Herrmann's score for Psycho (1960).
To Thornfield is a scherzando recalling one of Alan Hovhaness's sword-wind
dances but brisk with Northern moorland sunshine. A reserved romance hangs
over many tracks. This is especially prominent in the Jane Eyre theme,
the Overture and Across The Moors (worthy to stand alongside the
effulgence of Sarde's Tess score). Restoration is a string
paean: part-Sibelian and part-Elgarian. The final Reunion at first
sounds suspiciously like the Fauré Pavane from Pelleas
but having turned that dangerous corner explores with subtle emotion surge
and undertow of joy in sadness; sadness in joy.
The atmosphere of much of this score (well the pastoral bits) drifts agreeably
from the soft supplicatory music of Gerald Finzi (now popular but hardly
heard of in 1970) to the soft focus anguish of Stanley Myers' Cavatina
from The Deerhunter; one voice predating the score; the other succeeding
it. Fans of Herrmann's score for The Trouble With Harry will want
This film is the version with Susannah York (Jane), George C Scott (Edward
Rochester), Nyree Dawn Porter, Kenneth Griffith, Jean Marsh, Ian Bannen,
and Michele Dotrice.
The notes by George Curry are from the original LP. For such an Anglophone
score we should not be surprised that it was recorded at Anvil Studios, Denham.
The contract orchestra is warmly and closely recorded in an often reverberant
The tray insert warns us that the CD has been re-mastered from the original
tapes, now almost 30 years old, and that 'some distortion is still evident'.
This is not at all dramatic and can be heard on the more climactic moments
for the strings and the higher register notes of the piano. There is nothing
here to put you off.
The total timing is not listed on the back of the tray. Was no other suitable
(even contrasting) score available? I recommend this
album warmly and have only moderated the score because of the short playing
Ian Lace is even more enthusiastic:-
I would just add that it is little wonder that John Williams, himself, is
so fond of this score, one of his most beautiful, so eloquently played here
under the composer's direction. As for the playing time, I am reminded of
that old adage - 'less is often more.' Just one other observation,
I was struck by the opening Jane Eyre theme. It sharply anticipates John
Williams's own score for Presumed Innocent. I wonder if he made some
mental connection between the sufferings of Jane and that of the wife turned