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Monday, June 19, 2006

CD REVIEW - Curse of the Werewolf

Curse of the Werewolf and Other Film Music by Benjamin Frankel
Naxos 8.557850 (U.K.)
25 Tracks 74:40 mins

Although music from Brenjamin Frankel's groundbreaking 12-tone score for the 1959 Hammer horror Curse of the Werewolf has been available before, this is a premiere release of the complete score and as such is historically important as it is credited as the first British feature film score to employ this method.
The film also introduced us to an intense young actor by the name of Oliver Reed, who skilfully portrayed the young man tormented by the curse of turning into a wolf at the rising of the full moon. As such, Frankel's score carries few light moments, save for the somewhat gay "The Beggar" and a charming "Pastoral." The rest of the score is mysterious, tense and anguished, with some genuinely powerful and menacing moments and a tour-de-force action "Finale."
Light relief however can be gained from the suite from 1950's So Long at the Fair, which is remembered for its popular "Carriage and Pair," but also features a regal opening and some nice romantic scoring. The "Love Theme" from 1953's The Net follows and is again suitably romantic with piano lead.
Frankel's score for 1955's The Prisoner, which deals with the persecution of a Catholic priest in a nameless communist state, closes the album and is even more intense and doom-laden than the score that opened the disc. Only brief moments of menace and action interrupt what is largely a very downbeat and dull listening experience.
With Carl Davis conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, performances are as excellent as one would expect, the package being completed by Dimitri Kennaway's notes on the composer, and the featured selections.
If you like your film music challenging and in a classical mode, I would recommend this disc to you, but if, like me, you like something melodic to latch on to, you would perhaps be better off looking elsewhere.


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