Film Music of John Addison/Addison

July 17, 2007


John Addison will forever be remembered at least in the United States for his memorable theme to the long running television series Murder She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury in a Agatha Christie/Miss Marple style character set in the Northeastern part of the United States. Others who are more familiar with the world of soundtracks will forever remember him as the composer who replaced Bernard Herrmann on the film Torn Curtain. There are a small number who are aware that John won an Oscar for best original score for the film Tom Jones in 1963, a suite which is included in this compilation CD.

Chandos in their continuing movie series, has released a nice compilation of his music performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Rumon Gamba. Addison worked on nearly 100 films or television programs in a

40+ year period of time. This compilation includes 17 different films/ television series ranging from A Bridge Too Far to the obscure science fiction film Strange Invaders and yes his version of Torn Curtain is included albiet a little schmaltzy for my taste. Strange Invaders is quite a suite to say the least taking on a sound one could liken to Frankel or Holst and yet it still has the dissonant disturbing sound of an American score from the 50’s even though it was filmed in 1983. There is a premiere recording of the wonderful theme from the 26 hour special Centennial arranged by Patrick Russ and not very British sounding at all, in fact quite American. I say that only because much of his material is quite the stiff upper lip variety such as A Bridge Too Far, Tom Jones,Touch and Go, and Sleuth. John’s material would fit in quite well on an album of light British music. Light and airy, easy to the ear, and orchestrated exactly like what one would expect to hear for a British film. To this reviewer Addison is the very soul and style of British music. Nothing groundbreaking, but you know what to expect from him, just like Steiner and a Warner Bros. film from the 40’s. Also included are premiere recordings of I Was Monty’s Double, Brandy for the Parson, Touch and Go, and Carlton-Browne of the F.O.

The recording is done concert hall style not the way a soundtrack would be recorded so don’t expect that tight miked sound. Don’t necessarily expect the same tempo that appears in the film either, although as memory serves me Murder She Wrote sounded just like the theme on television. If you have a nice system the 24 bit recordings can give you even greater dynamic range and presence. They have a slighter full sound and this recording is no exception.

Chandos over the years has done the soundtrack collector a huge favor in making available so much material that had never been released before. Chagrin, Black, Parker, and now Addison the list seems to be never ending and this reviewer is already looking forward to the next release. This Addison is a perfect introduction to likely a new composer to your collection you have yet to explore. Recommended!

Golden Scores Rating is ***1/2

Produced by Neil Varley and Ralph Couzens

CD# is CHAN 10418

Total Time is 70:50

Engineered by Ralph Couzens

Track Listing:

1. I Was Monty’s Double (02:58)

2. Centennial (main theme) (04:09)

3. Swashbuckler (05:46)

4. A Bridge Too Far (10:24)

5. The Maggie (02:31)

6. Reach For The Sky (04:07)

7. Strange Invaders (09:28)

8. The Man Between (02:10)

9. Tom Jones (04:45)

10. The Charge Of The Light Brigade (07:19)

11. Brandy For The Parson (opening titles) (01:20)

12. Brandy For the Parson (end titles) (01:43)

13. Torn Curtain (main titles) (02:22)

14. Touch And Go (02:41)

15. Sleuth (03:08)

16. Carlton-Browne Of The F.O (01:49)

17. Murder, She Wrote (main theme) (02:10)

Total Duration: 01:08:50


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