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Friday, February 03, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Glass Slipper

The Glass Slipper
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Film Score Monthly Vol.8 No.19 (U.S.)
Disc 1 - 17 Tracks 71:10 mins Disc 2 - 13 Tracks 59:59 mins

M-G-M's attempt to repeat the success of their surprise box-office smash of 1953, Lili, was a live-action version of the Cinderella fairytale, The Glass Slipper, again starring Leslie Caron and again sporting a Bronislau Kaper score and song, with lyrics by Helen Deutsch, as well as three ballets. Needless to say, though well enough received, the film couldn't hope to match the success of its predecessor. But there's nothing wrong with Kaper's efforts. In fact, based on this splendid 2-disc set, which includes the complete score, plus alternate takes, often original versions, particularly of the ballets, before they were edited to fit the on-screen action, I would say this is the better score, certainly thematically more varied and interesting.
Save for the song, "Take My Love," which had a single vocal release by Eddie Fisher, and an instrumental version by David Rose and His Orchestra, no soundtrack album has previously been available, so this is a very welcome release indeed.
Disc One features the complete score, as heard in the film, and features the beautiful love theme, the aforementioned "Take My Love," in various arrangements, some within the lengthy and varied ballet music. It is a versatile theme, which can be played sad or gloriously happy and is almost as catchy as "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo." It is sung once, by Gilbert Russell, subbing for Michael Wilding, and accompanied by Kaper on clavichord but, unlike "Hi-Lili," is best heard as an instrumental.
Whereas the Lili score was largely made up of fairground source music, this score has a number of excellent themes besides, including a melancholy one for Caron's character Ella's downtrodden moments, a versatile "Palace" theme for all things Royal, which is sometimes truly regal, at others almost comical and is also played as a tremendous marching band number in Parade; and comic material for Ella's stepsisters and her "fairy godmother." The ballets are inventive and run the gamut of emotions and, though a couple are lengthy, never outstay their welcome. There are also some fine source cues for the grand ball at the palace.
Disc Two features the aforementioned alternate takes, with even lengthier versions of the ballets, plus a brief impressionistic cue by Daniele Amfitheatrof and a solo performance of "Take My Love" by Bronislau Kaper at the clavichord again. Outtakes complete the dics, including a hummed version of "Take My Love" and a fascinating snatch of interraction from the scoring stage between composer Kaper and conductor Miklos Rozsa. Interestingly, although not credited with any composing in the accompanying booklet's cue-by-cue guide, Rozsa obviously wrote the cue I Don't Care, albeit based around Kaper's melancholy theme. His style is quite unmistakable.
Another excellent FSM release then, in fine stereo sound I might add, of the Golden Age Hollywood film music of Bronislau Kaper.


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