British Film Music  -  Mathieson;  Cohen, Kentner  (Pearl 0101)
Item# C1367
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British Film Music  -  Mathieson;  Cohen, Kentner  (Pearl 0101)
C1367. MUIR MATHIESON Cond.: THEIRS IS THE GLORY (Warrack); MALTA G.C.(Bax); WESTERN APPROACHES (Parker); w.LOUIS KENTNER: DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT (Addinsell); w.HARRIET COHEN: LOVE STORY (Bath, Cond. by the Composer); ARTHUR BLISS Cond. London S.O.: THINGS TO COME (partially Unpublished) (Cond. by the Composer). (England) Pearl 0101, recorded 1935-47, BRITISH FILM MUSIC, Vol. II. Transfers by Roger Beardsley. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 727031010128


"One of the college courses that I have frequently taught bears the catalogue-title THE LITERARY DIMENSIONS OF FILM. I like to think of it more broadly as an introduction to the artistic dimensions of film, and I put considerable emphasis on the musical aspect of cinema. Once, after a lecture, with musical illustrations, on the development of the concept of the film-score, a student challenged me to name the single most important film-score. Without hesitation I said: ‘Sir Arthur Bliss's score to the Wells-Korda film THINGS TO COME. I had scheduled THINGS TO COME and after the students had watched it, I went back and explained in as much detail as I could muster just how brilliantly this score shone all by itself and just how much it added to the film. The discussion of film-music usually centers on the Austro-German expatriates in Hollywood, but this is to forget the Russians and the British, who arrived independently of Hollywood at their own distinct notions of musical accompaniment for cinematic action. (This was in the mid-1930s.) The full extent of Bliss' remarkable score has never really been documented on a recording; I know of no recorded appearance, for example, of the remarkable machine-ballet that accompanies the visual sequence called ‘The Building of a New World’. The most complete suite is on a John Mauceri CD of film-music for sci-fi flicks, and this is marred by extraneous sonic special effects. The salient attraction, then, of this issue from Pearl, BRITISH FILM MUSIC, Volume II, is the inclusion of nearly ten minutes of Bliss' THINGS TO COME score that have never been heard before. Most significantly, we hear the extended version of the ‘Epilogue’, a glorious Elgarian study which adds a chorus in the last eight bars. This CD gives us, in addition to the Bliss score, Sir Arnold Bax's stirring music for a wartime documentary about British resistance to fierce German air-raids on Valetta harbor in Malta; a couple of main-titles from Vaughan Williams; and excerpts from other wartime motion pictures by unfamiliar, but thoroughly competent, studio-composers. Muir Mathieson conducts in many of these. He seems to have been an early ‘expert’ in the art of recording the film's musical track. In all, a fascinating and welcome release."

- Thomas F. Bertonneau

“Muir Mathieson was the single most influential figure in British film music of the twentieth century. He conducted the scores of virtually every major movie made in England from the mid-'30s until 1960 and, equally important, elevated the quality of film music for the industry. A graduate of the Royal College of Music, he joined Alexander Korda's London Films at age 20 as an assistant, and at 22 was appointed music director. Mathieson engaged the best musicians and some of the top young composers in England, including his RCM classmate Arthur Benjamin, who scored THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL (1934). Although Mathieson occasionally composed music, it was as a conductor and music director that he was most influential - he had the confidence of producers and composers and could reconcile their needs. When Korda proposed that Arthur Bliss, the leading light of 1930s British music, score the science fiction epic THINGS TO COME(1936), it was Mathieson who made the project work, yielding a score that still receives new recordings seven decades later. From 1935 on, every Korda movie had a prominent soundtrack done under Mathieson's direction and utilizing such composers as Miklós Rózsa and Richard Addinsell. Rival producers felt obliged to emulate his work; as Korda's studio shut down for lack of credit at the start of World War II, Mathieson was free to work with them, and British studios were soon employing Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton, and William Alwyn, among others. It was Mathieson who convinced the 68-year-old Vaughan Williams to write film music for the first time. During the war, Mathieson was music advisor to the British military and conducted in theater and on radio. After the war, he was in demand throughout the industry, including the musically ambitious project THE INSTRUMENTS OF THE ORCHESTRA, the 1946 film built around Benjamin Britten's work of that name. He also renewed his collaboration with Bliss, whom he engaged to arrange and expand the score of THE BEGGAR'S OPERA for the 1953 Olivier film. His name also became familiar on soundtrack albums in connection with everything from Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO to Disney's IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS; it's a reflection of the respect he enjoyed that, when a musicians' union strike prevented composer Bernard Herrmann from conducting the recording of his VERTIGO score, the producers went to Mathieson.”

- Bruce Eder,

“Harriet Cohen's influence went well beyond that of a musician. She became strongly associated in the 1930's with publicizing the plight of German and Austrian Jews and even played a concert with the scientist Albert Einstein (Alfred's cousin) in 1934 to raise funds to bring Jewish scientists out of Germany. She became close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt and Ramsay MacDonald as well as the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann. Harriet Cohen met the American journalist Dorothy Thompson in 1930 on her first tour of America. Thompson and Cohen were to correspond about the plight of Jewish refugees in Austria and Germany, and Cohen was then able to pass on information from Thompson directly to the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, who was at this time her intimate friend. From 1933 Cohen committed herself to work in Britain and the United States on behalf of refugees.

It was not until 1939 when she first met Chaim Weizmann, the future first President of Israel, that she began to support the Zionist cause and a Jewish homeland. Cohen's 1939 visit to Palestine extended her reputation there both as a concert pianist and politically. She argued with British and Jewish officials to try to get Jewish refugees admitted on ships from Nazi Germany (rather than be returned), once almost precipitating an International incident. Harriet Cohen believed passionately in a Jewish homeland but with justice to the Arab Palestinians.”

- Z. D. Akron

“Many of Louis Kentner's early recordings have remained among my most treasured musical possessions....a luxuriant stylist who could touch off much of his vast repertoire with dazzling musical and technical will surely rejoice in a souvenir of true musical glory.”

- Bryce Morrison, GRAMOPHONE, Nov., 2007