FRANKEL: Curse of the Werewolf / The Prisoner / So Long at the Fair Medley

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Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973): Film Music
Curse of the Werewolf
So Long at the Fair
The Net
The Prisoner
(1955)   The career of London-born composer Benjamin Frankel ranks among the most remarkable and diversified of the 20th century. A musically gifted child, he faced stern parental opposition to notions of a career in music and was apprenticed to a watchmaker, when he left school at fourteen. His gifts, however, came to the notice of the American pianist Victor Benham who persuaded his parents otherwise, and undertook to teach him, free of charge, for a period of two years, the last six months being in Germany. Although Frankel's formal training was as a pianist, he was also a talented violinist and, on returning to London, began playing for numerous dance bands, later to include those of Roy Fox, Fred Elizalde and Carroll Gibbons (The Savoy Orpheans). Apart from acquiring a reputation as a leading "hot jazz" fiddler, he was in demand as an arranger, most notably for Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra during the mid-1930s. Despite a busy working life, he continued formal studies with Orlando Morgan, at the Guildhall School of Music in London, on scholarships from the Worshipful Company of Musicians, during the years 1929-34. In 1934, Frankel entered films, ultimately scoring over a hundred, including The Seventh Veil, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Man in the White Suit, The End of the Affair, Night of the Iguana and Battle of the Bulge (nominated for Best Original Score at the 1966 Golden Globes). For much of the 1930s and 1940s, he was also heavily involved in musical theatre, as musical director or arranger, working for many famous names of the day, such as Noel Coward and C.B. Cochran. Frankel's concert music gained recognition towards the end of the War, with striking solo and chamber works, most notably the Sonata No. 1 for solo violin and the first four String Quartets. In 1951, his Violin Concerto, Op. 24, composed in memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust, and commissioned by the violinist Max Rostal, for the Festival of Britain, cemented his reputation as one of the most original and important post-War composers. It was when he moved to Switzerland in 1957, however, that he found the time and seclusion which enabled him to concentrate at last on his concert music and compose his Symphony No. 1 in 1958. During the last fifteen years of his life, he wrote a further seven symphonies, a Viola Concerto, an opera, Marching Song, completed only days before he died, and numerous other works. This most fertile period of work placed him at the forefront of British composers, prompting The Times critic William Mann to declare him, in 1969, "our most eloquent symphonist". Apart from his prolific output for film, theatre and the concert hall, Frankel was also leading professor of composition during the years 1946-56 at London's Guildhall School of Music, where pupils included James Stevens, Buxton Orr and George Martin (now Sir George Martin, of later Beatles fame). This centenary release brings together music from four of Frankel's scores, composed during his busiest period in film. The Prisoner appears here for the first time and Curse of the Werewolf, for the first time in its entirety. The music from The Net is also newly recorded, while that from So Long at the Fair includes the composer's popular favourite Carriage and Pair along with other music not previously issued. The Prisoner and Curse of the Werewolf, apart from being two of the composer's most important dramatic scores, are of historical significance to his output: the former contains his first published experimentation with serial technique (broadly, composition based upon all twelve notes of the chromatic scale, in an order predetermined by the composer, which can be subjected to seemingly infinite variation), while the latter is credited with being the first British feature film score to employ the method almost entirely. From his Symphony No. 1 onwards, this was to be the main basis of Frankel's compositional approach, although he did not employ it again in his film music. Curse of the Werewolf (1959), was one of Hammer Films' better productions and enjoys cult status. It tells the tale of Leon (played by a young Oliver Reed in his first starring r??le) who is afflicted by lycanthropy, causing him to change into a werewolf with each cycle of the full moon. His mother, pregnant by the crazed beggar who raped her in the dungeon of the Marquis Siniestro's castle, dies in childbirth on Christmas Day, thereby triggering the dreaded curse. Leon, raised by the kindly Don Alfredo and his housekeeper, appears cured by loving care but once out in the world as a young man, falls victim once again, as human vices tempt him. The love of a pure young woman, Christina, seems to offer a fleeting hope but a trail of carnage brings a tragic end, as Don Alfredo shoots his adopted son with a silver bullet fashioned from a crucifix. Despite the inevitably hair-raising nature of the score, Frankel did not waste the fleeting opportunities provided by the odd rustic scene, to compose some memorably tuneful sequences. In So Long at the Fair (1950), directed by Terence Fisher, as was Curse of the Werewolf, brother and sister John and Victoria Barton (David Tomlinson and Jean Simmons), arrive in Paris on the eve of the great 1889 Exposition and check into a hotel. The following morning, Victoria awakens to discover that her brother has disappeared, along with his room. With everyone denying her brother's very existence, she sets out to solve the mystery, finally rescued by a young artist (Dirk Bogarde) who remembers exchanging a few words with her lost brother. A cracking good yarn from the Rank Studios, allegedly based on a true disappearance (though some say it is an urban myth). Frankel's music beautifully captures the essence of the time and place, most notably in his charming Carriage and Pair which was an instant hit. The Net (1953), one of many films Frankel scored for Anthony Asquith, concerns a team of scientists working on an experimental aircraft at a top-secret installation. All is not well, as a spy on the team attempts to steal it and kidnap its designer. Familiar favourites James Donald, Phyllis Calvert and Herbert Lom contribute to an interesting sci-fi story, with excellent special effects. Frankel's tender Love Theme lends poignancy to one of the film's key moments. The Prisoner (1955), directed by Peter Glenville, tells the harrowing story of a Roman Catholic priest (Alec Guinness) in a nameless Communist state, who is arrested on trumped-up charges of treason, interrogated (by Jack Hawkins) and ultimately brainwashed into confessing, in a "show" trial before the world's press. The story (adapted by Bridget Boland from her stage play, also with Guinness), was supposedly based on the true-life case of the Hungarian Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty (1892-1975). It was a landmark of British cinema and caused much controversy. The exchanges between Guinness and Hawkins are riveting and Wilfrid Lawson is memorable as the jailor. From its dramatic outburst at the very start, Frankel's tense, psychological score never lets up, but for one tender moment of romantic sub-plot, as the battle between church and state is waged in the guises of Cardinal and Interrogator. Dimitri Kennaway

Catalogue number 8557850
Barcode 0747313285020
Release date 04/01/2006
Label Naxos
Format CD
Number of discs 1
Composers Frankel, Benjamin
Frankel, Benjamin
Conductors Davis, Carl
Davis, Carl
Orchestras Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Disc: 1
The Prisoner
1 I. Prelude
2 II. The Beggar
3 III. Servant Girl and Beggar
4 IV. Revenge and Escape
5 V. Baptism
6 VI. Pastoral
7 VII. Leon’s Assignation
8 VIII. A Deadly Transformation
9 IX. Leon Confronts the Horror
10 X. Leon Imprisoned
11 XI. Final Transformation
12 XII. Finale
13 Introduction - Sea Prelude - Carriage and Pair - L
14 The Net: Love Theme
15 I. Prelude
16 II. The Prison
17 III. Cat and Mouse
18 IV. Cardinal and Interrogator
19 V. Mind Games
20 VI. Civil Unrest
21 VII. Solitary Confinement
22 VIII. The Dark
23 IX. The Confession
24 X. Last Meal
25 XI. Finale
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