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Cat. No. CHAN 9896 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9896 - The Film Music of Sir Arthur Bliss
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Audio Sample

Available From: 12 March 2001
Of rover sixty years Things to Come has exercised and enduringly baleful fascination, yet for all its spectacular effects, star names, massive budget, and the involvement of an internationally renowned author and the nation’s most celebrated filmmaker, it is for its music that the film will be forever remembered. Still the greatest of all film scores, according to some, the music for Things to Come set a standard which fuelled the expectations of thinking cinema-goers and initiated the golden age of British music which, while not yet utterly dead, survives mostly in memory. The film itself had a mixed reception, but the music was a sensation and its independent future life was assured. History tells that a suite (1935) was a brilliant success at the BBC Promenade Concerts even before the release of the film, that a collection of three discs which sold like hotcakes was issued, and that the music has been a standard of the orchestral repertoire ever since.

In its own way, the tale of Caesar and Cleopatra is equally strange, and there are distinct parallels to that of Things to Come. This film, too, involved a world-renowned author, George Bernard Shaw, a star producer from overseas, Gabriel Pascal, and was a follow-up to a box-office hit. Pascal had his own ideas about music: initially he wanted Prokofiev to write it but when this got nowhere he approached William Walton who also turned the job down. Bliss was Shaw’s choice, and the director’s undisguised resentment got things off on the wrong foot. The memory was still green in Bliss’s mind when a dozen years later, apropos of his exploits in film music, he wrote of ‘…unforgettable experiences with one director who, where music was concerned, was a certifiable lunatic’.

The Welcome the Queen March was the fruit of his work as a Master of the Queen’s Musick, a position he took very seriously. He wrote the march for the Pathé newsreel of the return of the young Queen Elizabeth from a Commonwealth tour in 1954. The Suite The Royal Palaces is music composed in 1966 for the BBC/ITV television documentary The Royal Palaces of Britain. The programme was broadcast on Christmas Day and narrated by Sir Kenneth Clark.

"... this splendid CD confirms Bliss as a composer of resource who could write good tunes to order - at least in the early part of his career. Bliss’s rollicking Welcome to the Queen gets the CD off to a splendid start, and the Chandos recording is fist class."
The Pengiun Guide – 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12

‘This addition to Chandos’ film-music series gives an excellent account of Sir Richard’s tunefulness, verstaility, stylishness and English pastoralism’.
The Sunday Times on CHAN 9867 (Richard Rodney Bennett)

‘Discover some lesser-known scores alongside old favourites, played here with a frist-rate idiomatic feeling for Rota’s music… Even those who do not normally go for movie music might find this an enjoyable surprise’.
Gramphone on CHAN 9771 (Nino Rota)

‘Overall, Gamba and the BBC Philharmonic are fine advocates for this music. The sound quality is spectacular, and , as I mentioned above the annotations are excellent.’

Gramophone Critic's Choice of 2001 new releases


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