British Film Classics (2-CD)
by Various Artists
- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: August 26, 2003
- Label: Chandos
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.Main Titles from 'The Trap'
- 2.March from 'Things To Come'
- 3.Valse Caprice from 'Uncle Silas'
- 4.Prelude from 'Hamlet'
- 5.Suite from 'Murder on the Orient Express'
- 6.March from 'The Dam Busters'
- 7.Ship's Waltz from 'In Search of the Castaway'
- 8.Rumba from 'In Search of the Castaways'
- 9.Main Titles from 'The Belles of St. Trinian's'
- 10.Dawn Patrol from 'Coastal Command'
- 11.Warsaw Concerto from 'Dangerous Moonlight'
- 12.Scorched Earth from 'The Overlanders'
- 13.Waltz from 'Moulin Rouge'
- 14.Main Titles from 'David Copperfield'
- 15.Suite from 'The Battle of Britain'
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.Colonel Bogey from 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'
- 2.Main Titles from 'Scott of the Antarctic'
- 3.Luftwaffe March from 'The Battle of Britain'
- 4.Prologue from 'Henry V'
- 5.Prelude from 'Odd Man Out Suite'
- 6.Elegy for Viola & Orchestra (2nd Movement) from 'Lady Caroline Lamb'
- 7.Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 (1st Movement) from 'Brief Encounter'
- 8.London Prelude from 'The Inn of the Sixth Happiness' Suite
- 9.Touch Her Soft Lips & Part from 'Henry V'
- 10.Love Scene from 'Four Weddings & A Funeral'
- 11.Main Titles from '633 Squadron'
- 12.Main Titles & Nocturne from 'The Cruel Sea'
- 13.Prelude from 'Richard Iii'
- 14.Main Titles from 'Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines'
- 15.Finale from 'Oliver Twist'
- 16.Spitfire Prelude from 'The First of the Few'
- 17.Fugue from 'The First of the Few'
Personnel: Philip Dukes (viola); Martin Roscoe (piano).
Editor: Matthew Walker.
Arrangers: Roy Douglas; Philip Lane; Charles Mackerras; Christopher Palmer.
It may sound overblown, or even downright silly, to say this about what is really a sampler album, but the two-CD British Film Classics is a wonder, in scope and quality, one of the finest soundtrack anthologies devoted to its subject. That's not too surprising, however, as it comes from Chandos Records, a label that has gone out of its way in recent years to record an extraordinary amount of classic material in the vintage soundtrack field. Opening up with Ron Goodwin's glorious, sweeping main title theme from Sidney Hayers' The Trap (1966), the disc takes us backward 30 years to the dawn of classically structured British soundtracks with Sir Arthur Bliss' march from William Cameron Menzies' Things to Come (1936), then ahead to the 1940s and Alan Rawsthorne's charming, elegant "Valse Caprice" from Uncle Silas (1947). Sir William Walton's "Prelude" from Hamlet is represented with far bolder, more emphatic playing than one is accustomed to hearing -- one of the virtues of the Chandos recordings of these scores is that the conductors and orchestras aren't afraid to play the music with a lot of fire and passion where it's called for, representing virtually all of the music in its most compelling form. This is also an unusually generous sampler in that it contains the entire suite from Richard Rodney Bennett's score from Murder on the Orient Express (1974) -- the real secret of its appeal, however, beyond that generosity, is the way that the programming leaps around through the obvious, such as Eric Coates' "Dambusters March" to unexpected territory, such as the waltz and rhumba from William Alwyn's score for In Search of the Castaways; Alwyn was a major 20th century British composer, and did a lot of film work in between his concert music, but few remember that he composed for Disney. Malcolm Arnold's jaunty, comedic main title theme from The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) is a great mood-breaker, one of the funniest pieces of movie music that this writer has ever heard and, with its ridiculously amplified percussion, a bridge between Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock" (aka the theme from The Late Late Show) and Vic Mizzy's music for The Addams Family. Taking us from that, back to Vaughan Williams' serious, stately, and gorgeous "Dawn Patrol" theme from Coastal Command makes an even better contrast -- and we get the complete Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell, plus Georges Auric's waltz from Moulin Rouge (1952) (sung beautifully by Mary Carewe). Disc two follows a similar pattern, ranging between international epics of British origin (at least, for the music), though one might quibble over the inclusion of the excerpt from the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 from Brief Encounter -- it's a British film, but the music is much better known today from subsequent movies such as The Seven-Year Itch. More explicable is the presence of Richard Rodney Bennett's music for the love scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral, a reminder that serious, world-class English composers are still very much with us in the present day. As an added bonus, all of these recordings from the Chandos library have been upgraded to state-of-the-art 24-bit digital audio, from their original 16-bit digital masters. ~ Bruce Eder
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