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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Arthur Bliss - Film Music (Rumon Gamba)


Composer: Arthur Bliss
  • (01) Welcome the Queen
  • (02-12) Things to Come, concert music from the film
  • (13-17) The Royal Palaces Suite
  • (18-25) Caesar and Cleopatra, suite from the incidental film music
  • (26) Theme from 'War In The Air'

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Rumon Gamba, conductor
Date: 2001
Label: Chandos



PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: *****

The Welcome the Queen March commissioned for a 1954 Pathé newsreel and the Royal Palaces Suite for a 1966 Kenneth Clark-fronted BBC documentary are formidably accomplished occasional music of the kind that Bliss was probably capable of turning out in his sleep. His music for the 1944 film of Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra was in fact not used because of differences with the producer Gabriel Pascal: it’s heard here for the first time in a suite arranged by Giles Easterbrook and Malcolm Binney. Though undoubtedly worth salvaging, it’s something of an oddity: a haunting ‘Sea’sequence apart, it evokes Sullivan and the Palm Court, doubtless responding to the wit of the play but at the expense of its more resplendent aspects. Bliss’s score for HG Wells’s Things to Come, by contrast, has always been recognised as a milestone in its genre. Yet between movements omitted from or shortened for the film, variant scorings and orderings of suites and publisher-induced cuts, it’s always been difficult to form a full picture of it. The sequence here, painstakingly researched and reconstructed by Philip Lane, presents over half-an-hour’s music, some of it unfamiliar and all of prime quality – as near to a ‘complete’ Things to Come as can be achieved. Stirring stuff, in performances and a recording well up to the standard of Rumon Gamba’s other British film-music discs for Chandos.

-- Calum MacDonaldBBC Music Magazine

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Arthur Bliss (2 August 1891 – 27 March 1975) was an English composer and conductor. After the First World War, he quickly became known as an unconventional and modernist composer, but within the decade he began to display a more traditional and romantic side in his music. In Bliss's later years, his work was respected but was thought old-fashioned, and it was eclipsed by the music of younger colleagues such as William Walton and Benjamin Britten. Since his death, his compositions have been well represented on record, and many of his better-known works remain in the repertoire of British orchestras.


Rumon Gamba (born 24 November 1972), is an English conductor. He studied conducting with Colin Metters, George Hurst and Sir Colin Davis at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Gamba was Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra from 2002 to 2010. In October 2008, he was named the next chief conductor and music director of NorrlandsOperan. In March 2011, Gamba was named chief conductor of the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra. Gamba has conducted a number of recordings for the Chandos Records label, particularly in their Film Music series.


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