Things To Come (1936)/Bliss
February 26, 2013
The story behind the making of the “Things To Come” is almost as interesting as the music itself. Did you know that there are some people and critics who consider this score to the be the greatest of all time? Arthur Bliss (1891-1975), was handpicked by Alexander Korda (producer) and H.G. Wells to do it producing a score of 45 minutes along with 30 minutes being recorded on 10 shellac LPs. Gratefully 8 of the 10 LPs were available in pristine condition but two containing the rebuilding and idyll movements were lost (shellac records break easily). This has made it much easier for Philip Lane’s reconstructions. Because Bliss was not interested in rewrites Korda hired L. Salter to rework based on the new editing and he butchered the score so badly that people who had heard the original performance on Sept. 12th 1935 didn’t recognize it! The thirty minute score that Lane produced for this recording is how Bliss envisioned it to be played.
The film produced by Alexander Korda was a high production one starring Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, and Cedric Hardwicke. Both the novel and screenplay were done by H.G. Wells and the film was directed by William Menzies. Early science fiction the story dealt with a destructive war forcing people underground and the eventual rebuilding met with opposition.
The premiere recording of the concert music from the film, 30+ minutes in length begins with a “Prologue” which I’ve included as an audio clip to you give you a feel for the style of music being presented.prologue things to come It is majestic in nature but has an air of darkness to it and the overall track is on the depressing side. “Ballet for Children” is 180 degrees from the “Prologue” offering a bright uplifting theme where one can envision children playing. There is a bright fanfare from the trumpets which introduce the entire brass section. “March” has a marching band flavor to it with the brass offering the theme and the percussion providing a nice background. “Attack” is a typical sounding war track depicting the struggle back and forth. “The World in Ruins,” a favorite track of mine, features the wind section of the orchestra with the strings answering the deathly calls they make. “Pestilence” presents more despair with woodwinds similar to ruins. “Excavation” sets the mood with metal clanging depicting the excavating going on with the brass leading the orchestra. “Machines” is a short cue giving us staccato type music with the strings in harmony along with the ever present timpani at a steady beat. Action is the best word to describe “Attack on the Moon Gun,” as the brass expresses a sense of urgency. The final track “Epilogue” is a summary with first majestic patriotic songs giving some ray of hope that all will be well and we have learned a hard lesson.
No worries as far as the recording and mastering are concerned as Chandos offers top notch in both areas. This 31 minute suite seems to be the one to choose as far as amount of material is concerned.
Total time is 31:58
Chandos CD# 9896