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The Film Music Of Arthur Benjamin & Leighton Lucas

Benjamin / Bbc National Orch Of Wales / Gamba
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10713   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arthur BenjaminLeighton Lucas
Performer:  Abigail SaraRobert CourtSarah-jayne Porsmoguer
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of WalesBBC National Chorus of Wales
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Enjoyable and recorded so as to flatter. A remarkable effort all-round.

Arthur Benjamin was born in Australia. A fighter pilot in WW1 he is reputed to have tangled with the German ace Hermann Goering later to achieve infamy alongside Adolf Hitler. Benjamin was supported by Thomas Dunhill into an RCM open scholarship to London. His claim to popular fame rests on the Jamaican Rumba, based on the tune, Mango Walk. He wrote a great deal of film music of which these three samplings are a small part. At another level he wrote some estimable concert music including three string-instrument concertos (Dutton), two works for piano and orchestra (Everest), a masterly Symphony (Lyrita and Marco Polo), light orchestral pieces (ABC),
Read more chamber music (Dutton; ABC) and much else including piano pieces (Lyrita, ABC).

The little four movement suite for The Conquest of Everest speaks of the grandiloquent confidence of the New Elizabethans in Coronation year. Its sense of human striving, of the awesome scale of nature and of valiant endeavour is frankly and impressively expressed. Strings surge and brass ring out in a chest-swelling blend of Walton with a dash of Korngold. This documentary film had a narration written by Louis MacNeice. Wind back two decades to The Storm Clouds Cantata from The Man Who Knew Too Much. There you can hear a more doom-inflected accent and a pall of darkness. The choral writing is influenced by Walton’s Belshazzar premiered only three years earlier. There’s also a touch of Rimsky in the chirpy woodwind at 5:10 and of Tchaikovsky at 5:40. It’s a dramatic little piece to words by Dominic Wyndham-Lewis (1891-1969) – and yes the words are there in full on pages 40 and 41 of the booklet. Hitchcock re-made the film in 1955 and Herrmann re-used and slightly extended the Benjamin cantata. Herrmann is also seen conducting the cantata as part of the re-made film. The Waltz and Galop puts in a Viennese appearance in An Ideal Husband. This ersatz contribution is a convincing piece which catches the manner rather well and strikes parallels with a work I often cite in such comparisons, Barber’s gloriously indulgent Souvenirs orchestral suite not to mention Benjamin’s own Cotillion. There’s also a touch of Herrmann’s later score for The Magnificent Ambersons. Herrmann conducted this bipartite piece for his well known 1970s collection of British film music.

Londoner, Leighton Lucas was at first a dancer, part of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. This connection arches over his music. Various ballets are prominent in his worklist. In 1923 he conducted Boughton’s The Immortal Hour during its first and greatest celebrity. He also essayed concert music including the Partita (1934) for piano and chamber orchestra, the Sinfonia brevis (1936) for horn and eleven instruments (said by Philip Lane to be touched with the influence of gamelan long before Britten and McPhee), a clarinet concerto (Dutton), the Ballet de la reine (ASV), and various works for brass band.

The Lucas scores included in the second part of this disc are to films many of which were shown during Sunday TV matinees in the 1950s and 1960s. In those far-off days there were only two or three channels and 405 line analogue broadcasts. It’s a treat to hear this music now in such good sound. The Yangtse Incident material is predominantly light and jaunty – a touch at tr. 10 of Walton’s Crown Imperial strikes a glancing blow off Coates. Dedication from Portrait of Clare is a luxuriant arrangement of Schumann’s Widmung from Myrthen. The Prelude and Dam Blast from The Dam Busters will do very nicely thank you. The brass sing their souls out. There’s a calmly succulent trumpet solo at 2:13 alongside the nobility and swagger. This is more than just the famous march and we do get a Tapiola-inflected insight at 4:10 into the murderous floods released by the successful breaching of the dams. The Stage Fright Rhapsody is another in that specialist genre of sub-Rachmaninovian pocket piano concerto. It’s very effective too and can happily stand alongside similar examples by Bath, Addinsell and Rózsa. The Suite from Ice Cold in Alex is in three movements – a hammeringly tense movement which may have given John Williams the idea for one of his Star Wars themes and a lushly romantic interlude indebted to Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique. There’s also a scorching march with a touch of Handel about it and a Scotch snap. The compact suite from the travelogue This Is York is commanding, playful, folksy (III) and thoughtful. The second movement doffs the hat to Honegger and Pacific 231. Back finally to the Second World War for the grand March-Prelude from the wartime documentary Target for Tonight. Ireland’s Epic March puts in an appearance. The Chandos team also remind us of their splendid way with the brass and especially with the BBCNOW’s horns.

The music here may be short-winded but it is enjoyable and is recorded so as to flatter. Neither will the documentation let you down. It shows the same flair and dedication that has gone into rescuing and reconstituting this music from soundtracks. A remarkable effort all-round.

If you have liked the other discs in the series then you will need this one as well.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
The Conquest of Everest: Suite by Arthur Benjamin
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; England 
2.
The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Storm Clouds Cantata by Arthur Benjamin
Performer:  Abigail Sara (Soprano), Robert Court (Organ)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  BBC National Chorus of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; England 
3.
An Ideal Husband: Galop by Arthur Benjamin
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
4.
An Ideal Husband: Galop by Arthur Benjamin
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
5.
Yangtse Incident: Portrait of the Amethyst by Leighton Lucas
Performer:  Sarah-jayne Porsmoguer (English Horn)
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; England 
Notes: 
1. Theme
2. Hornpipe
3. Amethyst March
 
6.
Portrait of Clare: Dedication by Leighton Lucas
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; England 
Notes: The piece is an arrangement for orchestra by Leighton Lucas of 'Widmung' from Myrthen, Op. 25 by Robert Schumann (1810-1856) 
7.
The Dam Busters: Prelude and Dam Blast by Leighton Lucas
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; England 
Notes: Prelude theme drawn from the main title march composed by Eric Coates. 
8.
Stage Fright: Rhapsody by Leighton Lucas
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; England 
9.
Ice Cold in Alex: Suite by Leighton Lucas
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; England 
Notes: 
1. Prelude
2. Love Scene
3. March
 
10.
This Is York by Leighton Lucas
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; England 
11.
Target for Tonight: March-Prelude by Leighton Lucas
Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; England 

Sound Samples

Conquest of Everest Suite (arr. M. Caratelli and C. Schurmann): I. Title Music -
Conquest of Everest Suite (arr. M. Caratelli and C. Schurmann): II. Walls that Surpass the Imagination -
Conquest of Everest Suite (arr. M. Caratelli and C. Schurmann): III. The Great Lift -
Conquest of Everest Suite (arr. M. Caratelli and C. Schurmann): IV. Top of the World and Final Bars
The Man Who Kew Too Much (arr. P. Lane): The Man Who Kew Too Much: Storm Clouds Cantata (arr. P. Lane)
An Ideal Husband: Waltz
An Ideal Husband: Hyde Park Galop
Yangtse Incident: Portrait of the Amethyst (arr. P. Lane): Theme -
Yangtse Incident: Portrait of the Amethyst (arr. P. Lane): Hornpipe
Yangtse Incident: Portrait of the Amethyst (arr. P. Lane): The Amethyst March
Portrait of Clare (arter R. Schumann's Myrthen, Op. 25): Portrait of Clare (after R. Schumann's Myrthen, Op. 25): Dedication
The Dam Busters (arr. P. Lane): The Dam Busters: Prelude and Dam Blast (arr. P. Lane)
Stage Fright (arr. P. Lane): Stage Fright: Stage Fright Rhapsody (arr. P. Lane)
Ice Cold in Alex Suite (arr. P. Lane): I. Prelude
Ice Cold in Alex Suite (arr. P. Lane): II. Love Scene
Ice Cold in Alex Suite (arr. P. Lane): III. March
This is York (arr. M. Riley): Opening Titles -
This is York (arr. M. Riley): Setting the Path - Diagram Lights -
This is York (arr. M. Riley): Thornton-le-Dale -
This is York (arr. M. Riley): Smoking Engine – Pan across York – Committee Room – Portraits – Railway Museum
Target for Tonight (arr. P. Lane): Target for Tonight: March-Prelude (arr. P. Lane)

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