About this Recording

British Film Music

The Warsaw Concerto was written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight. Originally, the producers had it in mind to use Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto, but ultimately decided not to pursue permission. Thus, Richard Addinsell was charged with providing something in a similar vein. The film itself concerns a young Polish airman/concert pianist Anton Walbrook who escapes Warsaw to fight in the Battle of Britain.

Christopher Columbus, directed by David MacDonald, handles it subject in what seems to us today a naive and simplistic way. The cast was both American and English and in Bliss' own words it was 'difficult with American and English actors to suggest the atmosphere of Spain - that is what the music has to do - so I have tried using Spanish idioms, and tunes akin to those of Spain which convey the feeling and atmosphere of the age in which Colombus set forth from Spain.'

The star-studded Murder on the Orient Express (which won Ingrid Bergman an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) was based on the Agatha Christie thriller and the composer, Richard Rodney Bennett, was the ideal choice to recapture the spirit of the 1930s. The theme is heard mostly in the Istanbul nightclub prior to the fateful rail journey while the waltz is the absolute embodiment of the Orient Express itself. In 1939 Victor Savile, as producer, brought to the screen the James Hilton novel Goodbye Mr Chips, the story of a schoolmaster finding love for the first time in middle life, and suffering its loss thereafter, with only a school and its pupils for comfort. The film was directed by Sam Wood and featured Robert Donat in the title role. The theme on this recording is from the opening of the film.

William Walton wrote fourteen film scores. Henry V was shot principally in 1943 and first shown in November 1944, the subject of the film well suited to the prevailing mood of patriotism at that time. Touch her soft lips and part was written to accompany the parting of Pistol from his wife, Mistress Quickly, as he goes off to war. The battle of Agincourt marks the climax of the film and of the score.

Hubert Bath's Cornish Rhapsody appeared in the 1945 film Love Story which starred Stewart Grainger and Margaret Lockwood. She plays the role of a concert pianist and her composition of the Rhapsody reflects her love both for Grainger and for the Cornish landscape that provides much of the setting for the film.

The England of Elizabeth dates from 1957, four years after the coronation of Elizabeth II. The film consisted of images of buildings, paintings, artefacts and books, with a commentary spoken by the actor Alec Clunes, with appropriate sound effects. The explorer is Sir Francis Drake, the poet Shakespeare and the queen Elizabeth I herself. Men of Two Worlds of 1945 was directed by Thorold Dickinson and tells the story of Kisenga, an African composer/pianist, who has studied music in Europe. Though the film itself was not a commercial success Baraza (for piano and orchestra) has survived.

Eric Coates was a master of light music, providing material that has formed a stratum in British consciousness through much of the twentieth century. The Dam Busters March is from the film, The Dam Busters, a story of wartime daring, as British airmen bomb a dam in occupied Europe, a hazardous exploit. The march is well known, however, independently of the film.

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