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WORKS: The Adventures of Mark Twain
PERFORMER: Moscow SO & Chorus/William Stromberg
Of all the European émigré composers who populated Hollywood during its Golden Age, Max Steiner perhaps had the greatest range, with scores such as Gone with the Wind and King Kong to his name. But he had had longer to adapt, having arrived in the US as early as 1914, and so his 1944 score for Powell and Pressburger’s Mark Twain biopic sounds as authentically American as anything by Copland, Thomson or Harris. It’s good to find the latest in John Morgan’s now extensive series of film-score restorations moving from Marco Polo to budget Naxos, which should give these worthy acts of reconstruction wider dissemination. And, although as a movie The Adventures of Mark Twain might be too twee even for Sunday afternoon TV, its music is immediately likeable and the 29 cues played end to end make up a convincing portrait of the American writer and adventurist. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra has become a dab hand at picking up the Hollywood style of a disparate array of composers on little rehearsal (the booklet note admits as much, referring to the double bassoonist needing to take his part home to practise the fiendish ‘Frogs’ cue – a miniature concerto for the instrument). The sense of panache and enjoyment in the playing is palpable. Matthew Rye