Arthur Benjamin was probably a little better known than Leighton Lucas, but neither name has exactly been in neon lights. The record shows thet both contributed music either in part, or wholly to some 20 British films, although I suspect Lucas' arrangements found their way into the incidental scores of more than he was ever credited for. The booklet cover for this album is very much its calling card with eagerly awaited suites from 'Ice Cold in Alex' and The Dam Busters'. It's what drew me, along with two other 'war' scores 'Target for Tonight' and 'Yangtze Incident'. Alright, this latter is strictly post-war, but Richard Todd in uniform and a WW2 Royal Navy ship in conflict.... Who can forget the determined jaunty tune for Katy the ambulance in 'Alex'or the famous 'Dam Busters' march- here, in its correct truncated film form, along with a little of the incidental music reconstructed and arranged by the indefatigable Philip Lane. Mr Lane's efforts extend to virtually all the music offered and he is owed a great debt of gratitude here as in many other albums. Some of the music on offer was written for shorts and documentaries, including Lucas' 'This is York', not particularly interesting other than the depiction of steam trains, and Benjamin's rather more colourful 'Conquest of Everest'. Perhaps the highlight of the Benjamin scores is the Storm Clouds Cantata from 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (1934) which Bernard Herrmann opted to keep in the 1956 remake alongside his own score. Cues from 'An Ideal Husband' 'Portrait of Clare' and 'Stage Fright' round out the album. Rerecordings such as these are sometimes criticised as being overblown in view of the paucity of the orchestral resources available for the orginals but I do think conductor Rumon Gamba manages to capture the atmosphere very well indeed. A well illustrated, excellent 42 page booklet in English/French/German complements the 68 min listening experience. Essential for anyone caring about British film music of the mid 20th century.
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This welcome compilation of music from Arthur Benjamin and Leighton Lucas has really only one stand out component- the soundtrack rendition of Ice Cold in Alex. Whilst the Dambusters and Yangtze Incident are all good stuff, the one that soundtrack enthusiasts have been waiting for is Alex. The rest is really for completists.
Sadly (and on first listening) this is a disappointing arrangement. The Ice Cold in Alex March in particular is too stylised and needs to be played con molto brio. This arrangement lacks the cheeky but glorious tempo of the film and has to be viewed as failing to match the original (where is Geoff Love when you need him?). Nevertheless all credit to Rumon Gamba for attempting it in the first place and giving us something to listen to. Now will someone do it properly???
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A fine record of film music which enlivened the film's of my youth. Not that I saw the film's when they were first released to the public. Rather they were shown on TV during my teens, or else I saw them during my days as a cinema projectionist. Then sound quality isn't the best,but if it's hifi you are after lol elsewhere! What you have here is music from the film's themselves, and you don't get more fidelity than that! Excellent stuff.
I've always felt that Lucas was greatly under-valued. Unfortunately this is a well-played but disappointing restylisation of two favourites. I think someone missed the point with Ice Cold in Alex - which lost its the bouncy theme - and then the reverse with the Amethyst Suite, which lost its sense of calm, understated and reasuring control. Do please have another go someone.