WORKS: Film Music Suite from Odd Man Out; Film Music Suite from The History of Mr Polly; Film Music Suite from The Fallen Idol
PERFORMER: LSO/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9243 Reissue (1993)
Both William Alwyn and Malcolm Arnold surely rank amongst the most experienced British composers of film music during the postwar era, so it is entirely fitting that their contributions to the genre should find pride of place in Chandos’s valuable series. Actually, the Alwyn disc constitutes a straightforward reissue of a 1993 release featuring scores written during the late Forties which are performed with superb panache by the LSO under Richard Hickox. Hearing this music afresh reminds us of Alwyn’s tremendous versatility, from the powerfully drawn doom-laden atmosphere of the opening and closing sequences of Odd Man Out to the pointed humour of The History of Mr Polly.
Arnold is no less versatile a figure and an equally brilliant master of the orchestra. As in his concert music, Arnold can turn his hand from deliberately vulgar material to music of nostalgic sentimentality with almost schizophrenic facility. But despite many passages of obvious pastiche, Arnold’s distinctive bitter-sweet musical personality shines through, nowhere more convincingly than in the heart-rending main theme to David Copperfield. Inevitably the fragmentary nature of these film suites incurs a degree of frustration, especially when one feels the ideas warrant more extended development. But with sharply defined performances from the BBC Philharmonic, this recording deserves a very hearty endorsement. Erik Levi