If the public perception were correct, Richard Addinsell would be a "one score" composer, with the "Warsaw Concerto" and nothing else to his credit. True, it was the first work for solo instrument and orchestra generated for a film project to find wide favor with the public, and even decades after its post-Romantic excesses were considered in ...
If the public perception were correct, Richard Addinsell would be a "one score" composer, with the "Warsaw Concerto" and nothing else to his credit. True, it was the first work for solo instrument and orchestra generated for a film project to find wide favor with the public, and even decades after its post-Romantic excesses were considered in synch with the concert-going audience, there have been dozens of recordings. But Addinsell did score numerous other movies between the 1930s and the 1960s, several of them better known as movies than the one (Dangerous Moonlight) for which the "Warsaw Concerto" was written, and they are represented here (as is the "Warsaw Concerto") in superb form. Rumon Gamba and the BBC Philharmonic, with Martin Roscoe at the piano and Philip Lane doing the reconstructions of the lost scores, have given Addinsell the best purely musical showcase of his whole career. A natural composer and songwriter who left both an intended career in the law and what formal musical training he did take behind, he never had a huge amount of respect from his colleagues during his lifetime (which may have been, in part, a matter of jealousy over the commercial success of the "Warsaw Concerto"), but as this CD reveals, he was a composer of substantial music. The suites from Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Love on the Dole are fine, melodic post-Romantic works in the best British tradition of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sir Arthur Bliss, with gorgeous writing for the strings and memorable passages throughout -- the former, derived of its boys' public school setting, is much more deliberately archaic, almost Elgarian at moments, while the latter is a more dramatic and complex piece, evoking characters and settings in a more contemporary mode. And then there's the bracing, comedic suite from Blithe Spirit, a partial misfire as a movie but a rousing piece of music that with its exuberant horn calls and light textured writing, seems to dance around the movie's underlying premise of love (and lust) after death. The Black Rose (1950) has been forgotten as a movie, but the Addinsell score for the period adventure film deserves better, a lush canvas for some of the composer's most subtle and exotic music, and other sections that evoke the work of Max Steiner at his best. Also represented -- and long overdue -- is the suite from Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol), Brian Desmond Hurst's 1951 adaptation of the Dickens work starring Alastair Sim in the title role; intermingling traditional songs and original material, it's a bracing, flavorful work that can easily stand on its own. He also delivered a light classical masterpiece in the score for Hurst's Tom Brown's Schooldays, evoking the best work of Eric Coates or Trevor Duncan in the seven-and-a-half-minute suite included here. The CD concludes with a pair of late works that are dance-oriented, for the comedy The Admirable Crichton (1957) -- a project that Addinsell was unable to completely fulfill and for which he subsequently gave away credit to Douglas Gamley -- that catch him in a lighthearted vein once again; and the ravishing and seductive, string-laden tango music from the 1954 drama Out of the Clouds. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi