The Film Music of Arthur Benjamin and Leighton Lucas – Abigail Sara (mezzo-soprano), Catherine Roe-Williams (piano), Rob Court (organ), Côr Caerdydd (choir), BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rumon Gamba
Arthur Benjamin composed the ‘Storm Clouds Cantata’ in 1934 for Hitchcock’s first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. In the 1956 colour remake of the film, the incidental music was composed by Bernard Herrmann, who was offered the opportunity to write his own music for the film’s climax. In an unusual outbreak of modesty, however, he said that he could not improve upon Benjamin’s cantata, so it stayed. In the film, Herrmann can be seen conducting the work in a twelve-minute-long, tension-filled scene at the Royal Albert Hall, during which the heroine must stop an assassin from shooting a visiting prime minister. The assassin has memorised the music by listening to a recording of the work, and waits patiently for the thunderous climax of cymbals which will muffle the sound of his gun…
Also on this disc is the Waltz and Hyde Park Galop from An Ideal Husband, and music from The Conquest of Everest, one of Benjamin’s most successful film scores.
Particularly noted for his film music, Leighton Lucas is renowned for his scores for Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright, for Ice Cold in Alex, and for The Dam Busters – all represented on this disc. In ‘Portrait of the Amethyst’ from Yangtse Incident, the music supports scenes of everyday duties aboard the frigate HMS Amethyst, and culminates in the famous March, with its hint of Heart of Oak, the official march of the Royal Navy. In contrast, the score to the Victorian curiosity Portrait of Clare, represented here with ‘Dedication’, an arrangement of a song by Schumann, is inspired by piano and other works by romantic composers such as Chopin and Liszt.