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CD Review

Arnold Bax

Film Music

  • 'Oliver Twist': Complete original score for the film by David Lean
  • 'Malta GC'
Paul Janes, piano
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Rumon Gamba
Chandos CHAN10126 73m DDD
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It has been quite a long time since we had any recorded excerpts from Bax's now legendary score for 'Oliver Twist' let alone a complete score. This issue is doubly welcome for this listener whose home country is immortalized in these fine excerpts from 'Malta GC'!

The hour long score from Dickens' immortal novel is reproduced here in all its glory and includes some extremely notable pieces, amongst which one must mention the famous Chase sequences and the dark, bitter music of the young Oliver's sojourn in the workhouse. Tender moments also abound but I believe the score is chiefly remembered for the characteristic, 'Fagin's Romp', a piece immortalized in Bernard Hermann's excellent recording on a Phase 4 LP.

Malta GC has been available before in its original score on a Pearl CD which I have heard but it is good to have an excellent digital version available even if Gamba is not really the equal of Mathieson is this repertoire. The final March does sound especially pompous and grand however.

As usual, the notes are detailed and exemplary on all counts. And the series dedicated to film scores continues to take fine wing on the Chandos label. One may now hope for some Hermann scores or other Vaughan Williams excerpts to complement the equally outstanding 'Scott of the Antarctic'.

Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech