Andrew Palmer, Group Editor

Classical Music: Hollywood Soundstage

Hollywood Soundstage

Erich Korngold Overture from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex; David Raksin Theme from Laura; Herbert Stothart / Harold Arlen Suite from The Wizard of Oz; Frederick Loewe Transylvanian March and Embassy Waltz from My Fair Lady; Max Steiner Suite from Now, Voyager; Johnny Mandel Main Title from The Sandpiper; Franz Waxman Suite from Rebecca; Alfred Newman Street Scene from How to Marry a Millionaire.

Sinfonia of London John Wilson

Release Date: 9 September

One only has to listen to a John Wilson recording and immediately you are compelled to stop what you are doing and listen. His recordings are striking, engaging, and thrilling, captivating the listener. This CD is no different. If Wilson were an author his books would be unputdownable.

Why is this? He understands the narrative of a composer’s intention getting under the skin with meticulous detail. He has the brilliance of the Chandos recording team and let us not forget, the excellence of the musicians he works with.

Even his recent Proms concert was electrifying bringing staples like Elgar’s Enigma Variations to life, as well as RVW’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis alongside new works. It would be interesting to sit in on one of his rehearsals.

Whatever his magic, this latest CD is a triumph and an album that celebrates the golden age of Hollywood. It will stir all kinds of emotions with quality playing that is flawless.

Sinfonia of London rose to fame in the 1950s as the leading recording orchestra of the day. Appearing in the musical credits of more than 300 films, including the 1958 soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann for Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Wilson reformed it in 2018 initially as a recording orchestra and it is superlative under his leadership.

Hollywood Soundtracks has some of the most wonderful and gorgeous string playing from the outset in Korngold’s Overture from the Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex that will tug at your heart strings as in the Suite from 'The Wizard of Oz' alongside beautifully controlled woodwind and percussion that adds sparkle and glitz. Loewe’s Transylvanian March and Embassy Waltz from 'My Fair Lady' will have you jumping out of your seat ready to take the hand of a dance partner and waltz around the room.

Wilson's London Sinfonia has superb rhythmic precision and the music is lifted off the page by the musicians and through some form of osmosis it creeps through the speakers as one's legs begin to twitch. In the short section where Steiner’s Latin-American themes appear in Suite from 'Now, Voyager' a smile appears and one's body begins to rhythmically move. The trumpet playing and string accompaniment for The Sandpiper again brings to life a sexily seductive and atmospheric jazz score where the piano and other orchestral textures add mood and character.

David Benedict, who is writing a biography of Stephen Sondheim for Random House (USA) and Picador (UK) writes in the accompanying notes that even if he had not been a first-rate composer, Alfred Newman would be enduringly famous for two reasons: he wrote the celebrated fanfare which accompanies every Twentieth Century Fox film, and he created the still-used Newman System that synchronises the playing and recording of film scores with the moving image.

In a time when we need our hearts to be lifted, John Wilson, London Sinfonia and Chandos, will do it with this intoxicating superb release.

It is a glorious and outstanding CD don’t take my word, order it now ready for September 9th.

Highly Recommended.