I have a great passion for the best film music, which is so often regarded (wrongly) as a poor relation of the mainstream classical tradition. Strangely, incidental music for the theatre (Grieg's Peer Gynt and Bizet's music for L'Arlesienne) do not attract the same whiff of disapproval.
The Vaughan Williams, Walton, Prokofiev and Shostakovich music for films was wonderful as you might expect; but I have a very special fondness for this album of music by Bliss. The Things to Come suite is a stunning series of pieces, and repays many hearings. The music has been superbly reconstructed from various sources by Rumon Gamba, something of a star in this field.
There is something about Bliss' music which gets under the skin. Since buying this CD, I have gone on to buy many more of his works...such a strange mix of the avant-garde and Elgarian nobility.
Also wonderful in this Chandos series are the CDs of Auric and Arnold film music.
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Although not overly impressed by the other items on this disc (I might rate them higher with repeated listening), "Things To Come" is worth the admission price on its own.
Anyone who loves the music of Elgar and Walton will find much to admire here, with percussion effects reminiscent of the latter composer's "Belshazzar's Feast"; some Elgarian Pomp and Circumstance in the famous March; and (for me, the best bit) a truly "nobilmente" theme - at once optimistic and melancholy in the true spirit of Elgar - in the Epilogue. I remember being very moved when I first saw the final scene of "Things To Come", in which the main characters muse on Mankind's destiny against the backdrop of this glorious music:
"Oh,God is there ever to be any age of happiness? Is there never to be any rest?"
"Rest enough for the individual man: too much, too soon and we call it death. But for Man, He must go on, conquest beyond conquest. First this little planet with its winds and ways, and then all the laws of mind and matter than restrain him. Then the planets around him, and at last out across the immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the deeps of space and all the mysteries of time, still he will be beginning."
"But...we're such little creatures. Poor humanity's so fragile, so weak. Little, little animals."
"Little animals. If we're no more than animals we must snatch each little scrap of happiness and live and suffer and pass, mattering no more than all the other animals do or have done. It is this--or that: all the universe or nothing. Which shall it be Passworthy? Which shall it be?"
Amen to that!
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I was not familiar with Sir Arthur Bliss up till now. I purchased this CD for the soundtrack to "Things to Come (1936) I collect soundtracks and having seen the movie many times I decided to see what was available after all of these years. As far as I can tell this CD is not available in the States. Amazon UK did their usual excellent job of getting this CD all of the way to Wyoming. In listening to this CD it struck me how much like Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Arthur is musically, the same sort of massive sweeping soundscapes which I can now hear in all of it glory in this 2001 recording. The other tracks Welcome the Queen (Victoria) The Royal Palaces Suit Caesar and Cleopatra are icing on the cake. If you are fan of Victorian style romantic symphonies you will definitely enjoy this CD.