Holiday Shop


WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

The Film & TV Music Of Christopher Gunning

Gunning / Tibbels / Ogden / Bbcp / Gamba
Release Date: 11/16/2010 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10625  
Composer:  Christopher Gunning
Performer:  Martin RobertsonCraig OgdenNicole Tibbels
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Romantic music for the screen - smooth and touching.

3453190.az_GUNNING_Poirot_Variants_1.html

GUNNING Poirot Variants. 1 La Móme Piaf. 2 Under Suspicion. Cold Lazarus. Rosemary and Thyme Caprice. 3 Rebecca. 4 Pollyanna. Firelight. When the Whales Came. 5 Read more The Hollow. 5 Little Pigs. 6 Lighthouse Hill Rumon Gamba, cond; BBC Phil; 1 Martin Robertson(sax); 2,5 Nicole Tibbels (sop); 2 Matthew Compton (acc); 3 Craig Ogden (gtr); 4 Julia Bradshaw (vc); 6 Yuri Torchinsky (vn) CHANDOS 10625 (75:50)


Some 20 years ago a friend alerted me to a limited-edition recording of the score for a British television documentary, Yorkshire Glory . This gloriously lyrical music in a richly pastoral vein was my introduction to the work of Christopher Gunning (b.1944), a composer who is reinvigorating the timeless tradition of Vaughan Williams, Holst, Finzi, et al. However, this pupil of Richard Rodney Bennett as well as Edmund Rubbra can, when appropriate, also demonstrate an acute awareness of postwar developments in English music, as this generous and varied compendium of his film and television music over the past two decades makes clear.


This collection marks the first time in Chandos’s indispensable movie-music series when a living composer has directly participated in the presentation of his scores. Gunning has prepared special versions for this particular project in the form of small-scaled but through-composed tone poems, not the customary sequence of disconnected excerpts. So the listener can experience this disc as a kind of multimovement suite of diverse moods, because of the high consistency and individuality of the writing.


Although only a few of the films and television series will be familiar to American audiences, two of the well-known highlights open the program. The Poirot Variants for saxophone and orchestra—a totally independent work from the composer who gave us the lovely Thames Rhapsody for the same combination (available on a Dutton Epoch disc of several years ago)—is based on the well-known wily and insinuating theme that introduced the popular BBC series starring David Suchet. The following piece, for accordion and orchestra, is derived from music for the acclaimed film biography of French legendary singer Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose . The alternation of film and television scores continues with the 1990s thriller Under Suspicion starring Liam Neeson, and the great television dramatist Dennis Potter’s final effort, Cold Lazarus. Both of these illustrate Gunning’s darker and more melodramatic side.


Then follow a number of lesser-known television productions: a sprightly, folk-inflected caprice for the series Rosemary and Thyme ; yet another adaptation of the romantic perennial Rebecca (a haunting prelude for cello and orchestra); the family-styled Pollyanna (full of the usual good tunes); two individual Poirot episodes— The Hollow and Five Little Pigs— and finally an obscure British film (never issued here), Lighthouse Hill.


The most impressive compilations here are drawn from two somewhat better-known films, the romantic dramas Firelight of 1997 and When the Whales Came, the earliest score included, from 1989, where Gunning’s use of an eerie soprano vocalise recalls Vaughan Williams’s Scott of the Antarctic music. Both of these emphasize Gunning’s exceptionally scenic imagination and his natural gift for the telling and memorable theme garbed in a lustrous orchestration.


As always in this series, conductor Rumon Gamba, the BBC Philharmonic, and the Chandos recording staff offer this endlessly appealing music in the best possible light. Anyone who loves the traditional school of English music will not be disappointed.


FANFARE: Paul A. Snook


The case of Christopher Gunning has been well and truly taken up by Chandos. Last year we had two of his six symphonies and the oboe concerto (review). Now the genre that brought him to wide attention is tackled.

It's mostly suave music for television. We start with the Poirot Variants for sax and orchestra. This is a combination he has tackled before in On Hungerford Bridge on ASV (review). A smooth fantasy touches on train rhythms, Buenos Aires dance-halls and a worldly romantic lassitude. Martin Robertson's saxophone presents the music without rough edges, subtle and undulating: not a trace of rasp. La Môme Piaf - 2007 film – quite rightly fears no cliché in deploying the accordion. It's all very romantic. Under Suspicion leaves such smoothness behind in a gruff nightmare-image speaking of the ruptured emotional landscapes of late Malcolm Arnold … though tenderness does arrive. The Cold Lazarus (1996) music is at first ascetic and doom-laden with whip-like dactyls reaching out. From this Fahrenheit 451 chill arises the most glorious romantic theme - almost Born Free or Howard Hanson Second Symphony. The Rosemary and Thyme Caprice has the closely recorded Craig Ogden confiding Scarborough Fair to the listener in an English countryside evocation. Rebecca showcases the cellist Julia Bradshaw in another dark-clouded piece completely in keeping with the brooding and intensely romantic spirit of the Daphne du Maurier book. It's well worth hearing. Innocent folk voices abound in Pollyana which is heavily freighted with charm. Woodwind solos and piano are prominent. Firelight - 1997 film - is among his most popular scores yet is quite low key and contained. This is not a grand statement and the music is heavily characterised by Yuri Torchinsky's tremblingly vulnerable violin. When the Whales Came - 1989 film - is quite naturally threaded through with the spirit of the sea. There are added elements such as a slowed whale-song recording (like Hovhaness and George Crumb, in that sense only) and a vocalising soprano. The Hollow and Five Little Pigs are from Poirot episodes. The first is very romantic and memorable. The second is sly and ambivalent in mood as voiced by the solo violin. Lighthouse Hill - film, 2004 - is again hyper-romantic and rounded in its progress. I was rather sad that there was nothing here from Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male or from Porterhouse Blue or from Middlemarch.

A wide soundstage complements a lavish audio image each of which articulates the often simple textures yet meets with a fierce embrace the grander statements.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Cold Lazarus by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
2.
Firelight by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
3.
The Hollow by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
4.
Lighthouse Hill by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
5.
Five Little Pigs by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
6.
Poirot Variants by Christopher Gunning
Performer:  Martin Robertson (Saxophone)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
7.
Pollyanna by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
8.
Rebecca by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
9.
Rosemary & Thyme by Christopher Gunning
Performer:  Craig Ogden (Guitar)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
10.
Under Suspicion by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
11.
La Vie en rose: La Mome Piaf by Christopher Gunning
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
12.
When the Whales Came by Christopher Gunning
Performer:  Nicole Tibbels (Soprano)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Sound Samples

Agatha Christie's Poirot: Poirot Variants
La Vie en rose: La Mome Piaf
Under Suspicion
Cold Lazarus
Rosemary and Thyme: Caprice
Rebecca
Pollyanna
Firelight
When the Whales Came
Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Hollow
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Five Little Pigs
Lighthouse Hill

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In