Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Benjamin Frankel: So Long at the Fair

The Terence Fisher film So Long at the Fair has long been a favourite of mine. However it is only the other day that I bought a copy on DVD and sat down to watch it once again. I guess I knew that Benjamin Frankel wrote the score for the film as the main theme also happens to be the well-regarded light-music miniature Carriage and Pair. Frankel himself had prepared the miniature, as there was no complete statement of this piece in the film.

A few years ago I reviewed a CD of Frankel’s film music from Naxos and I was delighted to discover that a special short suite had been prepared showcasing a number of other bits and pieces from the score. It includes some breezy ‘sea music’ a sentimental tune and naturally the ‘carriage and pair’ theme.

So Long at the Fair was released in 1950 and featured a story about brother and sister, John and Victoria Barton (David Tomlinson and Jean Simmons) who arrived in Paris at the time of the great 1889 Exposition. They book into their hotel. The next morning, Victoria finds that that her brother has vanished: this is compounded by the fact that his room has disappeared as well. All the hotel staff deny that he was ever there. Fortunately a young artist played by Dirk Bogarde comes to the rescue...but it would not be fair to say any more about the plot of this film, as I am sure that many people still have to be enchanted by this ‘mystery’.

The Carriage and Pair theme which runs through the entire film certainly captures the ‘essence of the time and the place.’ It became an instant best seller. There is a version of this piece uploaded to YouTube The derived ‘suite’ also includes music that is both charming and appropriate. It can be heard on the Naxos by logging in to their site.

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