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The Film Music Of Mischa Spoliansky


Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10543   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  Mark ColesIleana RuhemannRoderick ElmsJohn Wright
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Mischa Spoliansky here gets the Chandos-Gamba-BBC treatment; this time with the Concert Orchestra rather than the Phil.

Russian-born Spoliansky who spent years writing revues, musicals and cabaret songs in Berlin before fleeing to England to escape the Nazi pogroms, is represented here by his music for British films dating from 1935 to 1959. We should not forget that he also has a German film music aspect as well.

The latest score here is North West Frontier - a classic Raj actioner with Kenneth More as the Carruthers-style hero, Bacall as the love interest and Herbert Lom as the treacherous
Read more 'half-breed'. The long first movement is imposing and intrepid. The Scott-Wyatt waltz is unabashedly sentimental and lush. Spoliansky out-Steiner's Steiner in the march finale with a triumphant bugle-decorated Eton Boating Song. The 1935 Sanders of the River had Paul Robeson in the cast list. These three songs from the film are a delight - typical sentimental early Robeson fare though it seems that he later disowned his contribution to the film as demeaning to black people. I rather regret, as a matter of principle, the omission of the chorus and of the Killing Song. I am not sure why this happened but I hope that this was not a matter of politically correct scruples. The sentiments of the omitted words might well be deplorable but a grown-up allowance in a project of this sort must be made for the mores of the times. Mark Coles is the sturdy and ursine bass solo taking on the Robeson mantle in style. The suite from The Man Who Could Work Miracles shows a real sleight of orchestral hand within an idiom flitteringly caught between Tchaikovsky, the Bantock of Pierrot of the Minute, early Frank Bridge and Ronald Binge. The Grand Palace March has a touch of Howard Shore's Harry Potter and Ireland's Epic March. Voice in the Night is from a murder thriller - a tormented pocket-piano-concerto with a similar mood-set to Herrmann's Concerto Macabre though not quite as blackly brilliant. The four movement suite from René Clair's 1935 film The Ghost Goes West makes light-hearted play of various shades of Scottishry. It's all handled rather well by Spoliansky - a professional to the fingertips. Bagpipes and reels are there but nothing too queasily tartan. It's a fine suite and very nicely done especially the dignified and ever so slightly eerie Ghost's Walk and there’s also a Lehár-style waltz love theme. Robert Donat played the Ghost to Elsa Lanchester's millionaire daughter, Peggy. It's a very engaging little suite which should be looked out by community orchestras everywhere. Fluffy grandeur is the order of the day in Dedication - a sort of Beethovenian folly for piano and orchestra from the 1948 film Idol of Paris with Michael Rennie. King Solomon's Mines was another Robeson film. But before we get to his Wagon Song and Mountain Songs there's a Titles and Map prelude which is stirring and exotic. Wagon Song is well done by Coles and if, by today's standards, it's a mite hokey it swings along enjoyably enough. There’s also a rather originally scored and mysterious Desert movement complete with the soft chime of bells - very atmospheric. The Baxian filigree at start of Mountain Song contrasts with the later bluesy Gershwin-Porgy influence. The Finale is lush and relaxed with some nicely jazzy slashes cutting through the centre. The Galop from The Happiest Days of Our Lives is a sort of prequel to the scores for the St Trinians films - a rip-snorting, zany silly halfway house between Arnold and Auric. Unusually for these discs, the final track, the melodramatic yet dignified Toccatina from Saint Joan (1957), is for solo organ played by John Wright on the Harrison organ at Cheltenham College.

Time after time Spoliansky produces some beautiful coups and I don’t doubt that Philip Lane has had a decisive role to play in making this music a performing reality. The extensive notes are also by Lane as are the arrangements so we know we are in inspired hands.

The suites are now available as sets of scores and performing materials from Booseys.

All the sung words are printed in the booklet which also has a nice selection of stills from the films and is well up to Chandos standards for this series.

Spoliansky now has his own website which gives further details of his life and music.

I was expecting this to be a rather low-key affair but the often entertainingly imaginative Spoliansky turns out to be much more than an also-ran.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Suite from North West Frontier: 1. Main Titles. Pesante - Vivo - Grandioso by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
2. Suite from North West Frontier: 2. Attack on the Train. Moderato - Allegro moderato - Allegro con br by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
3. Suite from North West Frontier: 3. Scott and Mrs. Wyatt. Andante by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
4. Suite from North West Frontier: 4. Eton Boating Song. Marziale by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 0 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
5. Three Songs from Sanders of the River: 1. Canoe Song. Moderato (with rhythmic swing) by Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  Mark Coles (Bass)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
6. Three Songs from Sanders of the River: 2. Congo Lullaby. Andante moderato by Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  Mark Coles (Bass)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
7. Three Songs from Sanders of the River: 3. Love Song. Slowly by Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  Mark Coles (Bass)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
8. Suite from The Man who Could Work Miracles: 1. The Miracles. Allegro vivace by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
9. Suite from The Man who Could Work Miracles: 2. Scherzo. Allegro giocoso by Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  Ileana Ruhemann (Flute)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
10. Suite from The Man who Could Work Miracles: 3. The Grand Palace. March by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
11. Wanted for Murder, film score: Voice in the Night by Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  Roderick Elms (Piano)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Heinz Walter Florin. 
12. Suite from The Ghost Goes West: 1. Prelude. Allegro - Andante con moto - Allegro by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
13. Suite from The Ghost Goes West: 2. Ghost's Walk. Largo, misterioso by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
14. Suite from The Ghost Goes West: 3. Love Theme. Andante by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
15. Suite from The Ghost Goes West: 4. Chase and Finale. Allegretto - Andante (Solemn Music) by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
16. Idol of Paris: Dedication by Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  Roderick Elms (Piano)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 7 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens. 
17. Suite from King Solomon's Mines: 1. Titles and Map. Moderato by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
18. Suite from King Solomon's Mines: 2. Wagon Song. Andante by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
19. Suite from King Solomon's Mines: 3. The Desert. Andante by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
20. Suite from King Solomon's Mines: 4. Mountain Song. Moderato by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
21. Suite from King Solomon's Mines: 5. Finale. Marziale by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
22. The Happiest Days of Your Life: Galop by Mischa Spoliansky
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Notes: Producers: Neal Varley; Ralph Couzens.
Engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 
23. Saint Joan: Toccatina by Mischa Spoliansky
Performer:  John Wright (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Philip Lane.
Engineer: Antony Askew.
Arranger: Philip Lane. 

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