Arthur Bliss: Christopher Columbus

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Arthur Bliss' score for Christopher Columbus was written for a troubled, big-budget British spectacular starring Frederic March kind of over the hill at age 52 to portray Columbus, only 41 during his first voyage that has since become more of a subject of ridicule than veneration. All of the film projects Bliss worked on had problems, including "the Big One," Things to Come 1936, which established Bliss' own reputation as a great film composer; that is why it's a little surprising Bliss didn't work in cinema more often than he did. Naxos' Arthur Bliss: Christopher Columbus, which features conductor Adriano with the Slovak Radio Symphony and is recycled from the Marco ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Arthur Bliss' score for Christopher Columbus was written for a troubled, big-budget British spectacular starring Frederic March kind of over the hill at age 52 to portray Columbus, only 41 during his first voyage that has since become more of a subject of ridicule than veneration. All of the film projects Bliss worked on had problems, including "the Big One," Things to Come 1936, which established Bliss' own reputation as a great film composer; that is why it's a little surprising Bliss didn't work in cinema more often than he did. Naxos' Arthur Bliss: Christopher Columbus, which features conductor Adriano with the Slovak Radio Symphony and is recycled from the Marco Polo label into the main Naxos series with this release, is a very handy collection as it covers roughly half of Bliss' production in film scores that falls outside the mountain of music he and others produced for Things to Come. The Christopher Columbus score is another large-scale project, and Bliss produced more than 140 pages of material for it; Adriano has neatly compiled the best of it into a suite lasting nearly 25 minutes. Naturally given the subject there is a fair amount of atmospheric, seafaring music, but action scenes are suitably tense and orchestrally involved. It's a very fine score; too bad it was written for a historic epic so challenged in terms of taste and historical fact. Seven Waves Away released in the United States as Abandon Ship!, 1957 was one of Tyrone Power's last starring roles and a far more successful picture artistically than Christopher Columbus. But Bliss wasn't particularly excited about participating in what proved his final film project and if he produced more than the eight and a half minutes produced here, it isn't known. A lifeboat movie similar to Hitchcock's Lifeboat 1944, the short score produced for Seven Waves Away is on an artistic level with Things to Come, and one wonders what Bliss might have accomplished had he set aside his continuous warring with film directors and general distaste for the movie business in order to keep working. One director Bliss got along with quite well was Thorold Dickinson, whose Men of Two Worlds released in the U.S. as Witch Doctor, 1946 he scored quite extensively, including a piano concerto within a movie, Baraza, in the manner of the "Spellbound Concerto" or Herrmann's for "Hangover Square," except that Bliss' concerto has a part for men's chorus. So did the main score, which is mostly lost except for the 10 minutes included here in addition to Baraza; what remains has not a note of the chorus in it and had to be reconstructed. The film is set in Africa and concerns an African classical composer educated in the West who battles the spread of sleeping sickness in his native village. Bliss listened to African music in preparation for writing the score, and a little of that flavor filters into the finished product, though not in an obvious way that distracts from Bliss' general style. Dickinson -- who was responsible for such innovative masterpieces as The Queen of Spades 1949 and the original British version of Gaslight 1940 -- also proved an odd match for the movie business; less than a decade after Men of Two Worlds was wrapped, Dickinson would drop out of the commercial motion picture business for good. As the music for Things to Come was recognized as a milestone virtually from the day the film opened, it should have been a priority to preserve all of Bliss' film music, but it was not and Adriano deserves kudos for digging in and rescuing what remains. Like most Marco Polo recordings of the early '90s, this one is a little quiet and underpowered from a sonic perspective, but it is clear and well made overall; Adriano was always capable of getting the best out of the Slovak Philharmonic even as others have had less success in this area.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/17/2009
  • Label: Naxos
  • UPC: 747313222674
  • Catalog Number: 8572226
  • Sales rank: 270,518

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–10 Christopher Columbus, film score suite (arranged by Adriano), F. 105c - Bliss & Adriano (24:38)
    Composed byBliss
    Conducted byAdriano
    Performed byAdriano, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
    1. 1Overture
    2. 2The Commission
    3. 3Doña Beatriz
    4. 4Struggles
    5. 5The Messenger
    6. 6The Voyage begins
    7. 7Mutiny
    8. 8Land at last!
    9. 9Columbus put into chains
    10. 10Return to Spain
  2. 11–13 Seven Waves Away, film score for orchestra, F. 129 - Bliss & Adriano (8:32)
    Composed byBliss
    Conducted byAdriano
    Performed byAdriano, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
    1. 11Allegro con fuoco
    2. 12Allegro
    3. 13Maestoso quasi marcia funebre
  3. 14 Baraza, concert piece for male chorus, piano & orchestra, F. 121b - Bliss & Adriano (7:01)
    Composed byBliss
    Conducted byAdriano
    Performed byAdriano, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic Male Choir
  4. 15–18 Men of Two Worlds, film score for male chorus & orchestra, Op. 65, F. 121 - Bliss & Adriano (9:43)
    Composed byBliss
    Conducted byAdriano
    Performed byAdriano, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic Male Choir
    1. 15Return to Tanganyika
    2. 16The Challenge - The Wrath of the Evil Gods
    3. 17Kisenga's Family
    4. 18Village Fire and Finale
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Adriano Primary Artist
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