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THE BLACK ROSE – Richard Addinsell


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Black Rose was conceived as a follow-up to the 1949 film Prince of Foxes, reuniting the two male lead actors Tyrone Power and Orson Welles in a new adventure. It would be based on the 1945 novel of the same name by Thomas B. Costain, with Talbot Jennings writing the screenplay. 20th Century Fox Studios and its British counterparts joined together to finance the film, with Louis D. Lighton assigned production, and Henry Hathaway tasked with directing. The cast included Tyrone Power as Walter of Gurnie, Orson Welles as Bayan of the Hundred Eyes, Cécile Aubry as Maryam, Jack Hawkins as Tristam Griffen, and Michael Rennie as King Edward I.

The film is set during the reign of Kind Edward I of England circa 1300 C.E. and follows the exploits of Walter of Gurnie and Tristam Griffen, who flee England during the Norman-Saxon unrest. They journey to Cathay in search of adventure and fortune where they meet and come under the protection of Kubai Khan’s general Bayan of the Hundred Eyes, who is impressed with their education and archery skills. Walter and Tristam then cross paths with the beautiful Maryam, also known as “The Black Rose,” whom they rescue. She falls in love with Walter, but it is unrequited as he is more interested in adventure. The three eventually end up captives in China, permanent ‘guests’ of the Empress. They organize an escape, which frees Walter, but Tristam dies and Maryam is separated and lost. Walter returns to England and is knighted by the king for bringing back scientific knowledge and gunpowder. All ends well when two Mongol emissaries sent by the Bayan arrive at court and bestow to Walter the precious “The Black Rose”. The film was a commercial success, with mixed reception by critics. Nevertheless, the film earned one Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design.

The film was a joint American-British venture, and with the filming being done in England and Morocco, it was decided to tap a British composer for the score. Richard Addinsell was happy to be offered the assignment as it featured an epic film with an extensive canvass on which to compose. He understood that he would have to blend Occidental and Oriental sensibilities to support multiple settings, as well as to contrast the English, Arab and Chinese cultures. The film was also an adventure tale, with plenty of spirited action scenes, as well as a romance between the hero and the precious Maryam, the rare “Black Rose”.

For his soundscape, Addinsell composed nine themes, including; Walter’s Theme, which supports our hero. Worth noting, the theme does not have the usual heroic and dynamism characteristic of a film’s hero. Instead, we have a move reserved string borne identity, which speaks to a man full of anger and resentment, and estranged from his country England that are ruled by the Normans. The theme is quite malleable and Addinsell renders it expression across a wide range of emotions. Like Walter, it evolves and eventually finds a happy expression as he overcomes his demons to find love. Maryam’s Theme I believe is the finest in Addinsell’s canon. A sumptuous strings romantico borne melody so full of yearning, which is just exquisite. As the film progresses and love develops between her and Walter, so too does the theme, eventually blossoming into a molto romantico love theme. Bayan’s Theme supports our Mongol conqueror, who is a man of contradiction and complexity – learned, cultured, yet also ruthless and merciless. It offers a horn declared martial warrior statement that is proud, imperious and aggressive.

Addinsell speaks to the verdant England homeland by gracing us with a quintessential, idyllic woodwind borne pastorale. Three Arabic themes are offered; #1 is most often used and offers an exotic meandering flute borne identity, which bathes us in classic Arabic auras. Theme #2 is also borne by woodwinds Arabo, but with a darker, low register signature. Theme #3 is aggressive and militant empowered by drums bellicoso and ominous horns. For Cathay, we have one of the most beautiful themes of the score. It offers serene oriental auras, which bathes us in a mesmerizing, idyllic twinkling ambiance by xylophone, harp, bells, glockenspiel, and woodwinds tranquilli. The Caravan Theme offers a processionale maestoso, which supports the travel of the large caravan across desert and verdant countryside. Lastly, for the night-time scenes Addinsell composed a number of beautiful and serene nocturnes, which perfectly brought wonder to the night.

There is no commercial release of the film score. As such I will use film scene descriptors and film time indices for the review. 00:00 “20th Century Fox Studio Logo” is supported by Alfred Newman’s iconic fanfare. 00:13 “Main Title” opens grandly with fanfare reale, which supports the flow of the opening credits, which display as golden script against a painting featuring a military battle. At 00:24 strings nobile voice Walter’s Theme buttressed by fanfare reale. A woodwind bridge ushers in at 00:58 the sumptuous Maryam’s Theme borne by strings romantico, which is tinged with sadness. At 01:21 we flow into the film proper in “A Troubled Land” with Michael Raine providing narration of life in a divided England during the reign of Edward I, where the conquering Norman and indigenous Saxon cultural animus simmers. A dire marcia di dolore buttressed with grim horns supports Norman soldiers escorting chained Saxon prisoners to the Earl of Lesford’s castle. At 02:19 forlorn strings carry the arrival Walter of Gurney, who is escorted to his meeting with the earl’s Man of Law. A woodwind borne pastorale carries their progress through the garden.

03:23 “Simeon Boltery” reveals Walter’s entry into the castle and escort to his meeting carried by the strings gentile of his theme. Addinsell weaves a warm and intimate musical narrative as Simeon was a friend of his father. He advises Walter that his father at long last acknowledges him (a bastard) as his son in his will. Yet he cautions him that his father’s Norman wife Eleanor Countess of Lesford and her son Edmond revile Saxons and his acknowledgement in the will could be problematic. He counsels Walter to stand far back in the hall and to remain silent for the Lady of the house will do him harm if he is discovered. 06:27 “Reading of the Will” opens grandly with fanfare reale as Eleanor is escorted to her throne by her son Edmond. The will bequeaths all land and titles to his wife and son Edmond. To his son Walter, he bequeaths his engraved personal boots and commits him to loyally serve the king. Eleanor and Walter rise up in conflict, but before Walter can be arrested for treason, King Edward intervenes and tries to reconcile, and make amends with Walter. Yet Walter’s hatred of Normans cannot be assuaged, remarkably, the King displays magnanimity, sets Walter free, and departs.

11:12 “Walter Departs” reveals him leaving the castle and walking through the surrounding grounds supported by a pastorale by woodwinds tranquilli. He returns to his birth home where Will, his old caretaker warmly welcomes him. 13:37 “Friar Bacon”, Walter’s teacher, has arrived earlier and Will leaves to bring him. Addinsell provides gentility with flute delicato and piano as Walter explores his old home. At 13:59 the melody swells on strings as he retrieves his father’s sword from the fireplace mantle. He practices wielding it, until Friar Bacon arrives. Walter discloses that after his father married a Norman woman, despite his betrothal to his mother who has given birth to him, his grandfather disowned his son, and took an oath to never speak to him or grandson again. Yet when he arrives for dinner, he and Walter are polite and cordial. During dinner Bacon tells stories of Cathay and its ancient and magnificent culture, encouraging Walter to continue his studies. An ominous musical narrative unfolds at 20:48 in “Thieves”, which reveals Walter discovering thieves stealing Gurney armor. He challenges them and they flee. A crescendo dramatico carries Walter down from the castle rampart, where he is ambushed by the thieves. It turns out to be his boyhood friend Tristram and others who seek the armor so they may free fellow Saxons held by the Normans at castle Lesford. Tremolo strings and woodwinds sow a despondent musical narrative to support the meeting.

22:54 “The Rescue” reveals the men adopting Walter’s plan to free the prisoners and they depart. Horns bravura propel them at night over a foreboding soundscape. Walter uses the entry coded knock and then knocks out the sentry who opens the door. Addinsell sow tension as they stealthily make their way through the castle, with interplay of Walter’s Theme on horns. They knock out the guards and at 24:40 a crescendo dramatico supports the lifting of the drawbridge gate allowing their comrades to gain entry. They overpower the castle guards and their demand to free the prisoners is met, supported by a paean of victory. Inside the castle, Addinsell sow tension and unease with interplay by muted horns of Walter’s Theme as he sneaks around seeking to recover the boots left to him in his father’s will. At 26:52 a heroic Walter’s Theme swells as he locks soldiers in their quarters, retrieves his father’s boots, and escapes with Edmond and some men in pursuit. Yet Edmond is ambushed, allowing Walter and Tristram to escape as he vows revenge. 27:50 “The Letter” in the forest a tender woodwind borne nocturne unfolds as Walter and Tristram realize they must flee England as they will be hunted down having been recognized. He discovers a note in one of the boots and French horns nobile supported by warm strings of paternal love, which join as he reads that his father left him gold in London, and that he was sorry for the misfortune he brought him.

Walter informs his grandfather that he is leaving England to the Normans and journeying to Cathay. His grandfather grants him provisions and hopes that he will someday return. 30:31 “Farewell” reveals Walter and Tristram saying goodbye to Will and departing supported by Walter’s Theme borne by strings doloroso. The music brightens, and warms as Tristram agrees to join Walter on his journey to Cathay, and as they depart confident horns declare Walter’s Theme as they begin their adventure, the music swelling as grandfather watches their departure from the ramparts. 32:15 “Antioch” reveals Walter and Tristram overlooking the great city of Antioch, the departure city for caravans traveling the great silk road to Cathay. Addinsell embraces Arabic sensibilities with a drum cadence, which ushers in a meandering flute esotica of Arab Theme #1 as the men walk the bustling streets. They gain an audience with the caravan merchant and try to negotiate joining the caravan. The exotic flute Arabo with harp glissandi underscore the conversation, which ends badly, with the merchant uninterested and ordering them thrown out. On the way out, Lu Chung, the merchant’s caravan master cuts a self-serving private deal to let them join for gold, which the men graciously accept.

38:31 “Lu Chung” reveals Walter and Tristram escorted by Chung through the bizarre carried by the flute borne Arabic Theme #1. He presents them their two camels, tent and servant Mahmoud, who will steal what is ever necessary for them. 39:46 “The Caravan” reveals their departure and traversing of the desert. Addinsell supports with Arabic Theme #2 borne by meandering low register woodwinds Arabo with interplay of the flute borne Arab Theme #1. The make camp at an oasis and learn that General Bayan will be hosting an archery contest. As they walk, drums bellicoso join ominous horns empowering the warlike Arabic Motif #3 as we see the General’s horsemen racing with a banner bearing the cross of St. George, an English banner, no doubt a trophy from crusaders they killed. 42:31 “Warrior Contests” reveals men beating nativist drums and clapping rhythmically as a camel race unfolds over a treacherous obstacle course. They come across an archery contest and Tristram decides to show them what an English long bow can do.

The Arabs are hostile and seize him until 44:20 “General Bayan” when horns dramatico empower the general’s war-like anthem as he arrives. He grants permission to join the contest, but declares if he loses, Tristram will be killed. Tristram matches a bull’s eye in round one, and then request they move back farther, three times the distance, and the opponent refuses. Tristram draws, shoots a bull’s eye and is summoned by Bayan. He is impressed and invites Walter and Tristram to his tent tonight to play chess. 49:42 “Chess” opens with a flute borne nocturne as Walter and Tristram arrive at the general’s tent and enter. Walter plays against the general, impresses him and he decides to take them into his service. The next day in an extended unscored scene, Chung solicits Walter and Tristram to rescue the “Black Rose”, an English woman taken prisoner during the crusades. They agree and Chung departs to procure a second servant ‘boy’ for them. Later he presents Muhammed, who is in reality the Black Rose dressed as a boy. Walter orders Mahmoud to train him, but they later fight and the Black Rose is exposed as a woman. They hide her in the tent, swear Mahmoud to secrecy, and then order her to again dress as a boy lest they all be killed.

In 58:47 “Caravan Departure” a shofar resounds several times to herald the departure of the massive caravan and Bayan’s army. It ushers in the processionale maestoso of the Caravan Theme to propel the departure. The music takes on ominous auras a Bayan arrives and speaks of his plans to conquer China, and then, India. 1:01:20 “Night” offers a romantic score highlight. It reveals the caravan camped for the night with Walter and Tristram still uneasy about keeping the Black Rose hidden. A solo flute tranquilli emotes an exotic nocturnal ambiance using Arab Theme #1. Inside the tent, the melody is sustained as Walter finds the Black Rose again dressed as a woman, and without her brown face stain. She says her name is Maryam and she refuses to dress anymore as a boy at night, saying they won’t search their tent as they are Christians. The music shifts to clearly feminine sensibilities atop strings tenero, which interplay with the flute borne theme as her beauty and defiance make an impression on Walter. At 1:03:05 we see in Walter a nascent attraction arise as Addinsell introduces Maryam’s Theme on strings romantico for a beautiful extended rendering. He becomes captivated by her story of a miracle in which a tall and handsome Englishman will save her.

1:05:10 “The Journey Continues 1” reveals the processionale maestoso of the Cravan Theme supporting it traversing the desert, joined by martial horns as Bayan’s horsemen ride by a man hung from a tree. A menacing Arab Motif #3 accompanies Bayan who declares that he hangs these men as a warning to all those who would oppose him. He departs supported by his imperious fanfare. 1:06:42 “Maryam” reveals her again dressed as a woman without face tint in the night time safety of the tent. The flute borne Arab Theme #1 weaves a gentle nocturne as Maryam waits for Walter and Tristram. We shift to an oboe delicato emoting a pastorale as Tristram reminisces about the beauty of England. Walter is bitter about England due to the Norman conquest and at 1:08:10 the Maryam’s Theme enters as we see her sympathetic to his plight. The music sours as he says he will never go back to England and will seek his fortune with Bayan, which causes Maryam to weep. Walter asks why she weeps, and her theme resumes as she states that this is not how the miracle is supposed to unfold, and that she intends to return to England with her tall and handsome Englishman. He tries to console her as the melodic line is taken up by flute, but becomes exasperated by her steadfast belief in the miracle. We shift back to Arab Theme #1 when his solicitation of Tristram’s aid is rebuffed by his departure.

1:10:03 “The Journey Continues 2” reveals the caravan passage through more desert empowered by a more martial rendering of the processionale maestoso motif as we see Bayan’s formidable horsemen escorting. They reach the Great Wall of China, and marvel at its enormity. In an unscored scene Bayan reveals to Walter and Tristram his audacious plan to conquer China. He adds that his ambitions will eventually take him to Rome, and then dangles the prospect of aiding Walter rid England of the Normans. 1:12:22 “Thoughts of England” reveals Walter and Tristram discussing Bayan’s ambitions as they lay in their tent, unable to sleep. The flute borne Arab Theme #1 weaves an elusive nocturne as Walter advocates for joining a winning cause that will eventually return them home to England. 1:13:27 “Bayan Attacks” reveals Bayan’s army burning and pillaging the countryside, which Addinsell supports with a maelstrom of orchestral brutality and violence empowered by Bayan’s martial anthem. In an unscored scene Walter finds Tristram sitting in the field and comes to him. Tristram is appalled that Bayan’s men are slaughtering without mercy every man, woman and child. Bayan arrives and declares that those that serve him must like to kill, and then orders both men to return to their tent. Tristram is disgusted and tells Walter to return to their tent to celebrate today’s great victory. Later Walter and Tristram quarrel with Tristram punching Walter and rebuking him for what he has become. An angry Walter tells Tristram to return to England with Maryam since he does not have the stomach to continue. He storms out of the tent declaring he will fashion a plan so the two can escape.

1:17:54 “Walter Bids Tristram Goodbye” reveals Walter informing Tristram that the caravan splits tomorrow with Bayan’s army attacking China in the south withs the caravan heading north to Mongolia. He says he must escape tonight or not at all since they will be part of Bayan’s army. The flute borne Arab Theme #1 weaves a sad musical narrative in the night breeze as Walter advises him of his escape route to the sea. As Walter enters the tent at 1:18:44 to say goodbye to Maryam, the Arab theme transforms into a romance for flute, which ushers in the Love Theme as he struggles to say goodbye. The two themes entwine as she tries to reach his heart. As he appears to weaken and regret them parting, the Love Theme blossoms at 1:19:38 as she tells him she can go or stay. Yet he will not relent, and departs carried by a flute doloroso full of regret. 1:20:16 “Walter’s Deception Discovered” reveals Walter leading Bayan’s troops off the trail carried by the processionale maestoso. Bayan discovers the error and his angry horn propelled theme carries his ride to Walter, where he demands to know why he has betrayed him. A plaintive rendering of Walter’s Theme supports his confession to Bayan, which warrants a death sentence. Bayan orders the convoy back on course and that Walter be brought to his tent when they camp. We close angrily on Bayan ‘s Theme as rides off.

1:21:16 “Maryam is Distraught” reveals Tristram affirming that they successfully escaped as they sit by a night time campfire. Maryam no longer wishes to return to England without Walter. Forlorn woodwinds entwine with the Love Theme borne by woodwinds tristi to support her despair. In an unscored scene we shift to Bayan’s tent where Walter admits he sought to save Maryam and his friend Tristram. Bayan praises his gallantry and so will offer him the rope walk in the morning, which offers a slight chance to escape death. 1:22:34 “The Rope Walk” opens with dire horns sounding Bayan’s Theme as Walter stands atop a thick mounted rope flanked on each side with razor sharp blades that will impale him should he lose balance and fall. Complicating matters is two men, one on each side repeatedly striking him with air filled pig bladders in an effort to cause him to fall. He successfully traverses the challenge and Bayan orders him taken to his tent. His dire fanfare supporting the general’s departure.

1:24:34 “Bayan Marches South” reveals his army marching south to China the next day. The camera focuses on Walter being carried on a liter supported by a beleaguered rendering of his theme. At 1:24:49 grim fanfare resounds as Bayan finishes his meeting with representatives of the Imperial Chinese court. After they depart, he invites Walter into his tent. Bayan says they have paid him tribute and advised him the peace faction at court wishes to avoid war. He tasks Walter to be his emissary to the Empress, and to impress upon her Bayan’s formidable military power. He then wishes him well with a warm farewell empowered by horns nobile as Walter departs. 1:27:04 “Walter Arrives in Lin’an” reveals him riding into the Song Dynasty capital city of Lin’an, carried by a processionale orientale. Upon passing through the city gate, he is stopped by guards, told to dismount and follow them, which he does reluctantly. At 1:27:44 Walter is escorted through the beautiful palace gardens, which Addinsell supports with his Chinese Theme, which bathes us in a mesmerizing, tranquil twinkling ambiance of exotic oriental auras. He is advised to bow profusely as the Empress enters, examines him, chastises her advisors, and then departs. He is then escorted to a magnificent house with fountains and gardens, which Addinsell supports with the resplendent tranquility of the Chinese Theme, now embellished with a gorgeous flute delicato.

1:30:11 “Walter Reunites with Tristram” reveals Walter being overjoyed when he discovers Tristram, who states that he too has been imprisoned here. The tranquil ambiance of the Chinese Theme is seamlessly sustained as their reunion is interrupted by Chinese officials who declare that the arrival of two fair skinned white men fulfill the prophecy of the two birds, which will protect the kingdom. As such the Empress will no longer consider peace with General Bayan, and Walter and Tristram are informed that they will remain here for the rest of their lives. Walter asks if Maryam could be brought to him and the official agrees. He concludes the conversation at 1:33:16 informing Walter that they reside in the House of Everlasting Felicity. The Chinese Theme darkens ominously with a drum roll as the official warns them of their obligation to those they have committed to war. 1:33:35 “Maryam” reveals her being attended to by two female servants supported by the twinkling xylophone and flute delicato of the Chinese Theme. The soundscape is sustained as we switch scenes to Walter bathing in a bath of scented fragrances as Maryam expresses her happiness at the door. Later they have all changed in to silken Chinese garments as they adjust to life in a gilded cage. Walter joins Tristram and Maryam expressing marvel at the scientific discoveries he has made.

1:36:55 “Gunpowder Demonstration/Bayan’s War” reveals Walter demonstrating the power of gunpowder, which he believes will transform warfare with a power that could bring down the walls of Rome. Grim horns portend the carnage this new technology will bring to warfare. At 1:36:58 we shift scenes to Bayan and his horsemen army traveling through a desert empowered by his theme rendered as a marcia militare, as a city burns in the distance. 1:37:15 “Grave News” reveals the Chinese minister informing the three that General Bayan has conquered four cities, burning one to the ground. He informs him that Bayan will soon arrive to lay siege to the capital, and to save the city, he is prepared to sacrifice the lives of the Empress’ two ‘gods’, Walter and Tristram, so she will be forced to sue for peace. Addinsell supports with the mesmerizing, twinkling tranquility of the Chinese Theme, as the three contemplate their fates.

1:38:32 “Maryam Proposes” offers a molto romantico score highlight. It reveals her waking at night and leaving her bedroom to visit Walter’s. Addinsell transforms the Love Theme by rendering it in the guise of the Chinese Theme, the xylophone replacing the strings. As she reaches and wakes him, the theme reverts to its usual occidental, yearning string borne sensibilities. She proposes that since they will be here for the rest of their lives that they make the best of things and love each other. The yearning strings, so full of longing offer a romantic soliloquy of exquisite beauty, which at last unlock Walter’s heart as he takes her into his arms for a passionate kissing embrace. The next day Walter presents Tristram and Maryam his escape plan using a secret passageway that will take them to the river. He asks Maryam to sow their collection of jewels into the peasant coats they will wear. 1:42:21 “The Hour Approaches” reveals it is sunset as they prepare for escape under the cover of darkness. The resplendent twinkling tranquility of the Chinese Theme creates a soothing ambiance. Tristram asks Walter to take back all the scientific discoveries he made for the betterment of England. He refuses, still bitter and unreconcilable with Norman rule, saying Tristram needs to take it back himself as he intends to cast his lot with Bayan. This elicits a bitter rebuke from Tristram.

1:45:37 “The Escape” reveals the three starting their escape as Addinsell sow tension, while the minister lurks in the shadows. A muted Walter’s Theme carries their escape to the underground passage to the river. As they enter a cavern at 1:46:21 dire horns resound as a large gate descends, which denies any return to the palace. A soundscape of swelling tension creates urgency as Chinese bowman shoots at them as Tristram shoots back, and Walter sets gunpowder to blow up the exit door. Tristram wounds the minister and his bowman and then takes a fire arrow and shoots at the explosives, which explodes the gunpowder and collapses the door. 1:48:04 “Tristram is Injured” reveals a pillar falling on Tristram and mortally wounding him. Addinsell supports with strings lamentosi as the two men part, Tristram ordering him to save themselves while he uses what remaining strength, he has to hold back the Chinese. Strings energico offer flight music as Walter and Maryam flee. She gets into the boat and he says to push off the shore and wait as he runs back to save Tristram. But she loses the pole and begins drifting helplessly down the river. A sad musical narrative full of disdain supports Tristram’s refusal to leave as he again rebukes Walter for embracing Banyan’s merciless brutality. Slowly the strings weaken as Tristram’s passes out, as grieving woodwinds, full of regret support Walter dragging his friend to safety. 1:51:00 “Tristram’s Grave” reveal a stone covered grave marked with a cross, and supported by a woodwind threnody.

1:51:07 “England” reveals Walter returning to his house carried by an English woodwind borne pastorale. The melody shifts to familial strings of warmth as Will greets and welcomes him home. A happy Walter’s Theme joins at 1:52:35 as Will goes to inform his grandfather and Walter waits in the great hall. Grandfather abandons his vow and warmly welcomes him back, once again speaking to him. Walter informs him that he left all the scientific journals in London for the king, but regrets the trip to Cathay as he lost his dear friend Tristram. The king and his scholars arrive and listen to Walter’s account of the wealth of scientific information he has brought back. King Edward thanks him for his service, but Walter says he did not do it for the king, but because it was Tristram’s wish. The king then says he did it for England as a loyal Saxon, adding that he would like to place England first, and be a Norman second. He departs to fanfare reale at 1:57:37 and returns with a sword and knights Walter – Sir Walter Fitzrough. Salutary horns resounds as we conclude with the king bestowing a bow and his personal emblem to honor and commemorate Tristram’s sacrifice and service to the crown. Afterwards, we swell into a grand celebratory paean as Walter descends the stairs. 1:58:49 “Finale/End Title” opens with strings grave, which support the sight of two emissaries from General Bayan. Portentous horns support their delivery of a personal message from General Bayan to the man called “Scholar”. The letter is revealed in Bayan’s voice supported by his solemn theme as he commends both Walter and Tristram for their chivalry and fidelity to England. In gratitude for his service, he gifts him his chess set, and the woman Walter desires. As he sees her smiling in the adjoining room, we swell on a crescendo romantico of the Love Theme as he runs to her and the join in a kissing embrace. We conclude the film joyously with a grand flourish romantico as “The End” displays.

It is a sad state of affairs that we have yet another wonderful score by British composer Richard Addinsell, which lacks a commercial CD release; the only available recording of the music is on the 2003 album The Film Music of Richard Addinsell, conducted by Rumon Gamba with the BBC Philharmonic, release by Chandos Records. The album pairs just under 10 minutes of music from The Black Rose with suites from several other classic Addinsell scores, including Scrooge, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Love on the Dole, The Admirable Crichton, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Blithe Spirit, and Dangerous Moonlight. Suffice to say, a re-recording is essential and I hope a major film score label takes up the project. Until that time, we must be content to experience his handiwork within the film itself.

This review includes information on a compilation album, which I believe offers a good presentation of Addinsell’s handiwork. Folks, Addinsell was renowned for his melodic lyricism, and this score is a testament to his gift. A multiplicity of nine beautiful themes is offered, which bathe us with tranquil English pastorales, exotic Arabic auras, idyllic nocturnes, and gorgeous, mesmerizing Chinese serenity. All served to masterfully bring the various story settings and cultures to life, enhancing the film’s narrative. Walter, our hero, is an angry man at war with himself and life’s circumstances. There is a tinge of sadness to his theme, which exudes heroism when he fights for others, and warmth when he is transformed by Maryam’s love. I believe the yearning Love Theme is the finest in Addinsell’s canon, a molto romantico melody, which earns him, immortality. Our warrior Bayan, a man of contradictions, is empowered by a fierce martial construct empowered by horns bellicoso, which speak to his imperiousness, and merciless ferocity. I believe this score to be perhaps the finest in Addinsell’s canon, a gem from the Golden Age, and highly recommend you join me in clamoring for a re-recording.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to a short suite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36ThpJ1howw

Buy the Film Music of Richard Addinsell soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Titles and School Song from Goodbye, Mr. Chips (3:22)
  • In the Mountains from Goodbye, Mr. Chips (5:34)
  • Finale from Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1:28)
  • Warsaw Concerto from Dangerous Moonlight (8:25)
  • Main Titles/Sally Awakes from Love on the Dole (4:20)
  • Courting Couples from Love on the Dole (4:42)
  • Blackpool Outing from Love on the Dole (1:53)
  • End Titles from Love on the Dole (1:47)
  • Prelude from Blithe Spirit (5:01)
  • Waltz from Blithe Spirit (4:53)
  • Main Titles and Opening Scene from The Black Rose (2:07)
  • In the Empress’s Palace from The Black Rose (2:50)
  • The Black Rose Theme from The Black Rose (2:47)
  • Suite from Scrooge (13:59)
  • Overture from Tom Brown’s Schooldays (7:40)
  • Polka and Galop from The Admirable Crichton (1:43)
  • Waltz Sequence from The Admirable Crichton (3:57)
  • The Flame Tango from Out of the Clouds (2:30)

Running Time: 07 minutes 48 seconds (for The Black Rose)
Running Time: 78 minutes 58 seconds (full album)

Chandos CHAN 10046 (1950/2003)

Music composed by Richard Addinsell. Conducted by Rumon Gamba. Performed by The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Original orchestrations by Richard Addinsell. Recorded and mixed by Stephen Rinker. Score produced by Richard Addinsell and Muir Mathieson. Album produced by Brian Pidgeon and Mike George.

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