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Friday, December 30, 2005

CD REVIEWS - It's Bronislau Kaper night!

Music by Bronislau Kaper
Film Score Monthly Vol.8 No.15 (U.S.)
22 Tracks 72:21 mins

Fortunately for us, Film Score Monthly seem bound and determined to release everything the late Polish composer in Hollywood Bronislau Kaper ever composed. They have been steadily working through his catalogue and here is the first of two more releases, both featuring scores from the 1950s.
Lili is the ever popular semi-musical film from 1953, starring the young Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer, which spawned the ever-popular song Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo. But things could have been so much different had Kaper chosen Plymouth Adventure of the two films offered to him at the time.
Thankfully, for fans of both films and scores, he didn't, although incredibly it has taken until now for the full score to be released, with only a four-track EP appearing at the time of the film's release.
Presented in fine mono sound, the 49-minute score features the famous song, plus numerous variations thereon, as well as the innocent little b-theme that accompanies it. Much of the score consists of original source music for the carnival setting, all of it highly tuneful, as one would expect from one of Hollywood's greastest tunesmiths. There are also a couple of delightful ballets, the second included in the lengthy final track, which runs for more than 12 minutes and of course finishes in a fittingly glorious climax.
22 Minutes of bonus material includes alternate takes, piano rehearsals and trailer music, much of it featuring the famous Hi-Lili. As usual, a colourful and informative booklet accompanies the CD, with a cue-by-cue to the music presented.

Invitation/A Life of Her Own
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Film Score Monthly Vol.8 No.17
35 Tracks 76:07 mins

Another popular Kaper theme is "Invitation," which in fact didn't spring from the 1952 film of the same name, but was first composed for 1950's A Life of Her Own. Unfortunately however, little of the dramatic score to that Lana Turner starrer remains, though piano source presentations of the theme are included here. But first to Invitation, which makes up the bulk of this disc, although the score itself only accounts for 33 minutes, but what there is of it is saturated with the theme, again sometimes as source, but mostly as dramatic underscore. There is a melancholy b-theme, and some disturbing moments, but it's mostly the famous theme that is on display.
The bonus material from the film includes tunes from Lennie Hayton, Brown & Freed, a traditional Tyrolean waltz and a couple of classical excerpts from Strauss and Schubert, plus a piano improv of the theme by Jerry Goldsmith's old teacher Jacob Gimpel.
As I said, there is very little dramatic score surviving from A Life of Her Own, but some largely disturbing and dissonant cues remain, along with a good deal of source music, including those piano renditions of "Invitation," plus plenty more tuneful dance music from Kaper, including a lively jazz arrangement of the composer's "All God's Chilun Got Rhythm." Again, there are also tracks by Andre Previn and Lennie Hayton.
The usual cue-by-cue guide is included in the informative booklet that accompanies the disc.
The label's next Kaper release will be The Glass Slipper. Watch this space!


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