My comments concern the 1998 Varese Sarabande release (the 2004 Membran disc appears to be identical) of the 1947 original score recordings for Preminger's FOREVER AMBER, the setting for which is 1660 England at the time of the Restoration of the Crown with Charles II of Scotland. The musical cues on the album are sequenced as they appear in the film and are assembled into four suites:
PART 1 (10:04) - Main Title / The Chase / Escape / Fanfare / The Royal Court
PART 2 (11:45) - Romance / Royalty / Amber / The Prison / Birth
PART 3 (19:40) - Amber's Theme / Ride / Death / Sickness / Attack / Ordeal
PART 4 (22:40) - Music of the Court / The King / Return / Memories / Whitehall / The Fire / End Title
In PART 1, we are introduced to Amber (Linda Darnell) and her Puritan family and learn of her father's plan to marry her off to a young Puritan man. Refusing to agree to her father's wish, she is reprimanded and sent to her room, where from the window, she espies Lord Bruce Carlton (Cornel Wilde) and his friend Lord Harry Almsbury (Richard Greene - later "Robin Hood" in the British television series) and is smitten with Carlton. Before the night is through, she decides to run away from home to join the two travelers.
PART 2 takes us to the 50 minute mark of the film. Amber is abandoned by Carlton, is swindled and imprisoned, escapes with the aid of a highwayman and bears Carlton's child.
PART 3 continues to the 1 hour 38 minute mark of the film. Amber is betrothed to the gallant Captain Morgan, briefly reunites with Carlton (who must then fight a duel with the Captain), marries the Earl of Radcliffe, again runs away to join Carlton and saves his life only to see him leave once more.
In PART 4, Amber becomes a consort of the king, again encounters Carlton (now married) and loses both her child and her position at the court.
This is not the complete score, but is very much of it. PART 1 is nearly all of the music heard during the first 18 minutes of the film. The other three suites are highlights but capture all the film's themes so that nothing essential for one's appreciation of Raksin's achievement is missing.
Much of the music for FOREVER AMBER reminds me of the 19th Century suites anciennes of Delibes ("Le Roi S'Amuse") and Grieg ("Suite from Holberg's Time"), which although bearing conspicuous Renaissance or Baroque-isms, are still unmistakably creations of Romantic minds. Raksin's court music is appropriately more formal than the rest of his (more folksy) underscore and does sound rather like Purcell as was his intent, giving the impression of source music. He also quotes a few period tunes, notably the 150-year hit, "Greensleeves", in its original 16th Century harmonization. Still, the loveliest music is the very Romantic and vaguely Scottish material representing Amber and her love for Carlton. It is beautifully orchestrated, touching and poignant, even so far as to be heartbreaking.
I would recommend this to any fan of Alfred Newman, Korngold or Steiner.