The Film Music of Brian Easdale/Compilation of material

March 11, 2011

The Film Music of Brian Easdale is the latest addition to the ever growing series of film music from Chandos offering us wonderful material from a fine composer who has joined the ranks of obscurity even though his Red Shoes was the Oscar winner in 1948. This is just one of six suites made available on this 77 minute offering with Rumon Gamba conducting the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales. The material was written during the 1936-1955 time period and while it is going to require a little bit of warming up to as this is quite a unique style. However, once you have I’m confident that this release will become part of your standard listening library. Many CD’s that I review which have good listening still end up in the back row on the CD bookcase never to be listened to again. This is not the case with this release. Long after this review is published I’ll be revisiting this material over and over again.

Easdale certainly came up with a unique dance suite for Red Shoes where you can hear the influence of Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Vaughan Williams in the orchestral parts. It has a modern jazz sound like a Bernstein or Stravinsky yet there is a strong classical influence and Easdale puts his own stamp on the material with the use of the ondes martenot. Give this several listens and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.

Kews Garden written in 1936 for chamber orchestra was for a documentary about the Royal Botanical Gardens and has a bit of an oriental flavor as well as a playful summer section before it ends on a positive majestic note. Though a bit less than seven minutes it is quite effective and tells a story nicely.

Black Narcissus, a 1947 film starring Jean Simmons and Deborah Kerr tells a story of a convent in the Himalayas has an oriental style to the mostly angelic score which features chorus in two of its sections.

The Battle of the River Plate is exactly what you think which is a March military type scoring for yet another semi- documentary film that Brian did.

Suite From ‘Adventure On’ a musical progress written for Sir John Barbirolli could very easily have been the soundtrack to a Cinerama adventure. It is filled with all different musical styles.

Suite from ‘Gone to Earth’ was music from a Jennifer Jones film from 1952. The melodramatic material comes through loud and clear as Easdale made excellent use of percussion, chorus, and harp in this Philip Lane arrangement. Philip orchestrated four of the suites found on this CD and has become quite a regular contributor to the Chandos Movie series.

Take the time to listen to this fine material at http// http://www.chandos.co.uk and make your own decision. It is available as a lossless download or a CD. Highly recommended.

premiere recordings (except*)
Ballet from ‘The Red Shoes’* 15:39
Performing edition by John Wilson
Cynthia Millar ondes martenot
1 I Allegro vivace – 2:37
2 II Allegro moderato e molto ritmico – 1:22
3 III Poco più mosso – 1:35
4 IV Lento tranquillo – 0:53
5 V Largo – 1:49
6 VI Presto, quasi cadenza – 2:31
7 VII Allegro assai – 2:24
8 VIII Sostenuto 2:27
Suite from ‘Kew Gardens’ 6:49
for Chamber Orchestra
Performing edition by Philip Lane
9 1 Introduction and Allegretto – 1:53
10 2 Spring Flowers – 0:54
11 3 Summer Sequence – 2:28
12 4 Finale 1:33
Suite from ‘Black Narcissus’ 13:55
for Chorus and Orchestra
Performing edition by Philip Lane
13 1 Main Titles and the Palace of Mopu – 5:34
BBC National Chorus of Wales
14 2 Irish Song – 2:54
BBC National Chorus of Wales
15 3 Sister Ruth and Mr. Dean – 1:52
16 4 Hunting Song – 1:55
BBC National Chorus of Wales
17 5 Death of Sister Ruth 1:39
BBC National Chorus of Wales
Prelude and March from ‘The Battle of the River Plate’ 5:44
for Orchestra
Performing edition by Philip Lane
18 1 Prelude – 3:19
19 2 March* 2:25
Suite from ‘Adventure On!’ 19:00
for Orchestra
A musical progress for Sir John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra
20 1 Prelude and Pastorale 5:40
21 2 Intermezzo and Dance (Africa) 2:25
22 3 Barcarolle and Sultan’s Fanfare (Aden) 3:00
23 4 Pastorale and Lullaby (India) 3:47
24 5 Finale Progress (Malaya to Fiji) 3:55
Suite from ‘Gone to Earth’ 14:49
for Chorus and Orchestra
Performing edition by Philip Lane
25 1 Titles – 1:33
26 2 The Hunt of the Death Pack – 1:41
BBC National Chorus of Wales
27 3 The Prayer – 1:10
28 4 The Shropshire County Fair – 1:47
29 5 Hunter’s Spinney – 3:03
30 6 Undern Morning – 2:18
31 7 Finale 3:14
BBC National Chorus of Wales
76:42
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Rumon Gamba
Recorded in:
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2 Responses to “The Film Music of Brian Easdale/Compilation of material”

  1. Bob Says:

    Thanks, Tom, for the review. I have this album on the way to me from SAE. Minor correction. BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE, although based on an actual incident, was not a ‘documentary,’ as you suggest, but a dramatization starring Peter Finch and Anthony Quayle, I believe. I remember seeing it as a youngster. I appreciate your taking the time to review this kind of material from one of the more unfamiliar film composers, and Chandos, too, for releasing it. I will be excited to receive it.

  2. Mark Says:

    Actually, that’s http://www.chandos.co.uk, Tom 🙂


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